All archaeological projects that include the recovery or generation of data and/or archaeological materials (finds) should result in a stable, ordered, and accessible archive. It is important that the archive is created and compiled to acceptable standards, and that they are stored to recognised standards for long-term preservation, remaining accessible for future research or consultation. The archaeological archive comprises all parts of the archaeological record, including the finds samples, and digital records as well as the written, drawn and photographic documentation. The archive from an archaeological project is the key to understanding any published interpretations of the results.
Records of all archaeological remains, however collected, also retained archaeological materials (finds and samples), must be kept for future analysis. The archive must also include descriptions of contents, relevant indexes, descriptions of methodologies, project planning information, and keys to specific terminologies. Curation of the archive where possible in a recognised repository will ensure the survival of archaeological evidence for future use.
Archaeological archives are regulated by a number of key principles, to which any archaeologists, whether paid or voluntary, are urged to adhere:
* All archaeological projects must result in a stable, ordered, accessible archive
* All aspects of the archaeological process affect the quality of the resulting archive
* Standards for the creation, management and preparation of the archive must be understood and agreed at the beginning of any project
* Ensuring the security and stability of the archive is a continuous process and a universal responsibility
* A project has not been completed until the archive has been transferred successfully and is fully accessible for consultation
* All archaeological archives must be stored in repositories that maintain proper standards of care and accessibility
* Think carefully ahead of project whether finds recovery is essential; preservation in situ may be a preferable option.
* Consider archiving and storage requirements at every stage of your project
* Find out about local archive deposition standards from the curator of the intended archive repository.
* Marine and nautical artefacts have specialist requirements that may impact the level of conservation and storage available, so check beforehand.
* Try to minimise risk of damage to, deterioration, loss or theft of archive material.
* Seek the help of specialists if this is needed for any of your artefacts.
* Be aware of the procedures for care and storage of human remains, seeking specialist help where possible.
* Identify in your project report the location and name of the repository where the project archive is stored.
* Make sure all parts of the archive are appropriately labelled, indexed and packed for transfer to the repository.
* Make sure that there are copies and backups of paper and digital elements of the archive, which are safely stored.
* Consider digital deposition with OASIS and the ADS (and consult the ADS guidance for digital archives).
* Arrange a mentoring procedure within your group or involving another organisation if this is possible.
* Consider ownership issues, including permissions from the landowner and any Treasure or Treasure Trove requirements.
* Try to make sure that the final repository for the project archive can provide sustainability and accessibility for the archive.
* Establish where copyright for the archive will rest.
* If appropriate, wider publicity of your project could be achieved through arranging a special event for the Festival of British Archaeology and/or Scottish Archaeology Month.
1. Before embarking on finds recovery of any sort, whether through excavation, nautical recording, field walking or other means, consider carefully whether recovery is an essential part of the research project. It may be more appropriate to follow the principles of preservation in situ, so obtain specialist advice beforehand.
2. Archaeological archives are very important to any project, and must be considered and included at all stages of the project, from project design through to the project report and beyond. This includes specifically stating in the project design that one of the project outcomes will be the compilation of a stable, ordered and accessible archive.
3. If you are depositing your archive with a repository outside of your group or organisation (for example with your local museum), contact the curator to find out about local archive deposition standards.
4. If your project involves maritime, nautical or underwater archaeology, there will, as with any types of finds, be ongoing obligations in terms of time, facilities and money for the continued storage and conservation of these finds. Due to the specialist requirements of maritime finds, it may prove difficult to find a suitable repository for such a finds archive, and so make sure you have investigated this and taken advice from specialists before embarking on your project.
5. Care must be taken with all materials, including written records, that are to be included in the project archive, to make sure that the risk of damage, deterioration, loss or theft is kept to a minimum.
6. If specialist help is required to record and treat particular finds, do not hesitate to seek this help. Your local authority archaeologist or equivalent should be able to help you contact the most appropriate specialist.
7. There are special procedures for the care and archiving of human remains, which for ethical and legal reasons need to be treated with a degree of sensitivity. It is highly advisable to seek the help of a specialist. For advice and contact details of specialists, visit and contact via the [British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO)](http://www.babao.org.uk).
8. Make sure that your project report identifies where the archive is deposited, and the accession number issued by the repository (if applicable), or if not available, the Site Code.
9. The archive, including finds, relevant drafts of all reports, paper records and digital material, should be appropriately labelled, indexed and packed for transfer to the repository. Documentation of finds should conform as far as possible with nationally agreed term lists (eg. Mda Archaeological Objects Thesaurus and FISH Inscription – see suggested reading below).
10. Make sure that you have security (backup) copies of all the documentary archive, and backup files of the digital archive. These should be stored securely.
11. Deposit the digital archive with a digital repository which has data migration and backup procedures in place. At the very least, a description of the project and its conclusions should be submitted to your local Historic Environment Record (HER – formerly called the Sites and Monuments Record, and the relevant National Monuments Record or equivalent. In Wales the HERs are held by the four Welsh Archaeological Trusts. The best way to submit the report online if your site is in England, Scotland or Wales is online, via the [OASIS system](http://www.oasis.ac.uk). In Scotland, a site summary should be prepared for _Discovery and Excavation in Scotland_ (DES), published by Archaeology Scotland. If you have submitted your report through OASIS, DES will be notified automatically. By using the OASIS system you will also be given the opportunity to have your report included in the ADS ‘grey literature library’ of unpublished fieldwork reports, which will be available online. In Northern Ireland send your report to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency: Built Heritage Directorate.
12. For the fuller digital archive, that covers created data sets and the report of findings, consider submitting this to the [Archaeology Data Service (ADS)](http://ads.ahds.ac.uk), an online archive of digital data. Guidelines for the process of deposition can be found via the ADS at: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/advice/guidelinesForDepositors.
13. Arrange a mentoring system for the project if you can. This may be done through your own group (by assigning an experienced group member to monitoring duties), or may involve an archaeologist from your local authority, archaeological trust, university, or a national conservation agency acting as a mentor to your project.
14. Make sure that you have considered ownership issues. In most cases, ownership of the archive will pass to the repository where it is finally stored. However, you need to make sure you have agreed this with the landowner where applicable , and that you are aware of ownership regulations of specific finds. In England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man ownership of archaeological material rests with the landowner, except where other laws are applicable*** (e.g. Treasure Act 1996, Burials Act 1857). In Northern Ireland it is a statutory duty for finders to report all archaeological objects, whatever they are made of, to the Northern Ireland Environment Agency: Built Heritage Directorate, or to the Director of the Ulster Museum or, failing that, to the officer in charge of a police station, within fourteen days, unless they are uncovered as part of a licensed excavation. In Scotland all finds of archaeological objects must be reported to the Crown, normally via the Treasure Trove Advisory Panel or the Finds Disposal Panel. The archaeologist undertaking the fieldwork or the planning archaeologist must make this clear at the inception of the project (in the brief/project outline, specification or project design). In the Bailiwick of Guernsey, all finds should be reported to the Archaeology Officer, Guernsey Museum.
(*** Unless in Scotland you will need to obtain written permission from the landowner for finds donation and deposition with the identified repository)
15. Try to make sure that the repository where the archive will be stored will be able to ensure the continued stability and accessibility of the archive for future review or research needs.
16. Consider copyright of the archive – which normally rests with the organisation or group undertaking the research, but may be transferred with the archive to the archive repository. Be aware and mindful of issues relating to intellectual property rights, plagiarism and accessibility to research.
17. You could also consider publicising your work through public events, such as organising an event for the [Festival of British Archaeology](http://www.archaeologyfestival.org.uk) or [Scottish Archaeology Month](http://www.scottisharchaeology.org.uk/?q=node/33).
## Suggested further reading
### IfA Standards and Guidance
* [IfA Standards and Guidance for the creation, compilation, transfer and deposition of archaeological archives](http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/node-files/Archives200...) (pdf file)
* [IfA Introduction to Standards and Guidance](http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/node-files/ifa_standar...) (pdf file)
* [IfA Appendices to Standards and Guidance](http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/node-files/ifa_standar...) (pdf file)
### CBA Practical Handbooks
* Mytum, H. (2000) _Recording and Analysing Graveyards_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook Series no. 15
* Roberts, C. (2009) _Human Remains in Archaeology: A Handbook_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook Series no. 19
* Steiner, M. (2006) _Approaches to Archaeological Illustration: A Handbook_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook Series no. 18
* Webster, P. (1996) _Roman Samian Pottery in Britain_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook Series no. 13
* Dellino-Musgrave, V. (forthcoming) _Marine Archaeology: A Handbook_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook Series no. 20
### Other References
* Brown, D. (2007) _Archaeological Archives. A guide to best practice in creation, compilation, transfer and curation_. Institute for Archaeologists on behalf of the Archaeological Archives Forum. Available as free of charge hard copy on request from the IfA (http://www.archaeologists.net) or [downloadable PDF document](http://www.britarch.ac.uk/archives/Archives_Best_Practice.pdf).
* Buckley, L., Murphy, E., and O’Donnabhain B. (2004) _Treatment of human remains: a technical paper for archaeologists_. 2nd ed. Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland. [Download PDF document](http://iai/publications/treatmentofhumanremains.pdf)
* Cassman, V., Odegaard, N., and Powell, J. (eds) (2006) _Human remains: a guide for museums and academic institutions_. Lanham, Maryland, Altamira Press.
* Church of England and English Heritage (2005) _Guidance for Best Practice for Treatment of Human Remains Excavated from Christian Burial Grounds in England_. [Visit website](http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/human-remains-excavated-...)
* DCMS (2005) _Guidance for the Care of Human Remains in Museums_. [Visit website](http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.culture.gov.uk/re...)
* English Heritage (2009) _Greater London Archaeology Advisory Service: Standards for Archaeological Work_. [Visit website](http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/glaas-standards-for-arch...)
* Historic Scotland (2006) _The Treatment of Human Remains in Archaeology_. [Download PDF document](http://www.historic-scotland.gov.uk/human-remains.pdf)
* Historic Scotland (1996) _Archaeology Procedure Paper 2. Project design, implementation and archiving_. Edinburgh, Historic Scotland.
* Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland (2006) _Code of conduct for the treatment of human remains in the context of an archaeological excavation_. Dublin: IA. [Download DPF Document](http://iai.ie/publications/codehuman1-0.pdf)
* Ministry of Justice (undated) _Exhuming Human Remains: Frequently Asked Questions_. [Download PDF document](http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/docs/exhuming-human-remains-faq.pdf)
* Ministry of Justice (2008) _Statement on burial law and archaeology_. [Download PDF document](http://www.justice.gov.uk/guidance/docs/burial-law-archaeology-statement...)
* O’Sullivan, J., and Killgore, J. (2003) _Human remains in Irish archaeology_. Dublin, The Heritage Council. [Download PDF document](http://www.heritagecouncil.ie/publications/human_remains/index.html)
* The Archaeological Archives Forum guide Archaeological Archives: A guide to best practice in creation, compilation, transfer and curation (2007). [Download PDF document](http://www.britarch.ac.uk/archives/Archives_Best_Practice.pdf)
* The [mda Archaeological Objects Thesaurus](http://thesaurus.english-heritage.org.uk/), and other useful thesauri for archaeology, can be found on English Heritage’s website.
### Other Guidance Sources
* For advice on data standards (terminology) see [Forum on Information Standards in Heritage (FISH)](http://www.fish-forum.info/)
* English Heritage also provide a database of guidelines and standards for different elements of archaeological practice. Most can be downloaded as free .pdf documents. http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications
* For more detailed advice on digital archiving, see the advice pages offered by the Archaeology Data Service: http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/project/goodguides/g2gp.html and http://guides.archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/.
* For information on human remains issues, including ways of contacting specialists, visit [British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarcheaology (BABAO)](http://www.babao.org.uk).
* [Scotland’s Rural Past](www.scotlandsruralpast.org.uk) is a five-year HLF-funded project working across Scotland which provides local communities with an opportunity to get involved with surveying and recording settlement sites in their local areas. SRP have provided a [set of guidance for their groups](http://www.scotlandsruralpast.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=a...), much of which deals with different archaeological methods.