9. Finds

Finds work results in an ordered, stable, and accessible archive, as well as one or more reports for dissemination. It includes retrieving, sorting, cleaning, marking, conserving, recording, analysing, interpreting and preparing for permanent storage all materials kept as a result of archaeological fieldwork. This may include the presentation and display of some or all of the finds through exhibition or other interpretation strategies.
Taking a closer look
‘Finds’ are all artefacts, building materials, industrial residues, environmental material, biological remains (including human remains) and decay products found and collected during the investigation.

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.

Finds work may be undertaken:

* as part of archaeological site evaluation, excavation, watching briefs, building investigation and recording undertaken by commercial archaeologists as part of the [planning process](http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/advice/our-planning-role...)
* by academic researchers and local societies/community archaeology groups interested in specific regions, periods and artefact material types
* through finds made by members of the public – in England and Wales these can be reported to, and recorded by, the [Portable Antiquities Scheme](http://www.finds.org.uk)
* for the purpose of interpretation and presentation to the public (e.g. museum exhibitions)
* as part of ongoing curation and care of artefact collections in long-term storage (e.g. looking at corrosion and decay of archaeological materials)

## Finds Checklist

* Record as much information about the find and its context as possible during any fieldwork.
* Incorporate consideration of finds work into all stages of an archaeological investigation.
* Gather information about the site and its vicinity.
* Consider whether you will need the help of specialists, and make contact with them.
* Make sure that you have carried out costings for the finds work as well as other elements of the archaeological investigation.
* Make sure you have appropriate premises and support for your work.
* Arrange appropriate finds processing areas, equipment and staffing, both for on-site and after the fieldwork stage of the project.
* Ensure appropriate documentation and packing of finds after the fieldwork phase is complete.
* Be aware of the procedures for care and storage of human remains, seeking specialist help where possible
* Make sure that careful analysis of the finds for a wide range of information has taken place, remaining mindful of the research aims of the project.
* Consider whether the project design needs modifying in light of the finds work, and whether further analysis is needed.
* Include with the finds archive a documentary archive, and deposit both with the agreed repository (e.g. museum), and investigate transfer of title to the repository where appropriate.
* If you are investigating marine or nautical artefacts, you will need to take into account the need for specialist treatment and check that a suitable repository can be found.
* Deposit copies of the fieldwork archive (or the original if in Scotland) with the relevant county [Historic Environment Record](http://www.heritagegateway.org.uk/Gateway/CHR/) (HER). In Northern Ireland also make sure that a copy of the summary report is forwarded to the licensing body.
* Publication and dissemination of your work is very important, so consider ways in which you can reach different audiences.
* Consider whether organising an event for the Festival of British Archaeology and/or Scottish Archaeology Month to publicise your work would be possible.

1. All finds can tell us something about the past. However, this is dependent on the way in which they were retrieved from the site, and we need to know details about their context (where the find occurred on the site in relation to other finds, the layer and nature of the soil in which it was found, etc). Make sure that you have followed best practice and recorded all information connected to the finds and their context.

2. Plans to carry out finds work should be incorporated into all stages of the archaeological process, including the project planning, and should not be considered as an ‘add-on’ or an ‘afterthought’. This should include involving people from your team with specialist knowledge or experience of finds work with the development of the project design. A project design*** should be developed to cover finds work, whether this is part of a programme of fieldwork, or as a separate project in its own right. It should consider some or all of the activities of recovery, assessment of data, analysis, interpretation, publication, conservation, archiving and storage.
(*** A project design will be needed except in cases where finds work is carried out for furtherance of research, and the long-term stability, accessibility and documentation of the archaeological material is not affected by this work. In these cases a project design might not be needed.)

3. Gather information on the site and its vicinity, including:
* the nature of the site (geology, geography, soil conditions)
* consultation with the HER, PAS and local museums for finds previously discovered on the site and its vicinity
* predicted period and type (e.g. urban, rural, village, manor) of site
* previous intrusive or non-intrusive investigation
* ownership and requirements for the deposition of archaeological material (including any Treasure Act or Treasure Trove requirements)Volunteers help to sort and clean finds 4. Consider enlisting the help of external specialists for specific aspects of the finds work. Try to identify, and liaise with, all project specialists before you begin work, and keep them informed of the timetable and project design when these have been decided. Remember that they may not be able to give their time for free, and so this cost may need to be factored into any funding application or other financial sources supporting your work.

5. Carry out costings for the fieldwork and assessment stages of the project. These will be based on the information acquired above and the predicted scale, and agreed sampling policy, of the excavation. Costings will take account of:
* estimated finds recovery rates and material types
* feedback of information to fieldwork staff
* processing time
* provision for laboratory analysis and treatment of artefacts where needed
* materials required for packaging and documentation
* staff time, including any external specialists and related transport costs
* provision for box storage grant for recipient museum or other approved repository

6. Make sure that you have appropriate premises for your work with the appropriate equipment and support from experienced and qualified archaeologists with a specialism in finds work wherever possible. It is desirable, if possible, that the same people should be involved throughout the whole process.

7. Set-up the on-site finds processing area, ensuring that it:
* complies with all Health & Safety regulations
* is secure
* has adequate light, heat and water
* has enough room to work in and form a storage area for non-sensitive finds
* is furnished with the necessary equipment, materials and furniture

8. Once the fieldwork is completed, ensure that all finds are documented and packaged. Submit any materials that need laboratory treatment or analysis. Make sure that if any finds are sent to specialists for analysis, they are properly documented, packed and transported. Documentation of finds should conform as far as possible with nationally agreed term lists (such as the MDA Archaeological Objects Thesaurus and FISH Inscription – see suggested reading).

9. 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 Osteoarcheaology (BABAO)](http://www.babao.org.uk).

10. After processing the finds, which includes conservation, recording and marking, the **finds assemblage** (i.e. all the finds retrieved by the archaeological investigation) should be assessed and analysed. The analysis should help to identify function/purpose, form, date, how made, material/fabric type, source, parallels, attributes and condition of the artefacts. You should also consider what the finds tell us about the exploitation of food resources (e.g. presence of wild or domesticated animals and plants), the reconstruction of environments (e.g. what the landscape was like), and any information about human populations.Sorted finds at the Festival of British Archaeology 11. You may need to make recommendations for further analysis of all or some of the assemblage, and make modifications to the project design in consultation with all project specialists. This should include:

* identifying finds requiring further analysis, in order to meet the project’s research aims
* a method statement detailing how further analysis will be carried out
* a detailed list of work to be carried out, including further conservation
* the cost of this work
* a timetable for each task
* identification of any potential for further research and/or educational activity beyond the scope of the project design
* publication scope and format

12. The archive, both material and documentary, should be deposited in the recipient museum or other approved repository for long-term storage, and where appropriate be accompanied by a storage grant. If possible, title of ownership of the material should be transferred to the recipient museum or other repository (in England and Wales) if this has not already been agreed with the landowner ahead of the fieldwork. In the Bailiwick of Guernsey, title should be transferred to Guernsey Museum.

13. If your project involves maritime, nautical or underwater archaeology, there will, as with any 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 the finds archive, and so make sure you have investigated this and taken advice from specialists before embarking on your project.

14. A security copy of the fieldwork archive (in Scotland the original should be deposited with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland – RCAHMS) and a summary statement of the results of the project should be transmitted to the local Sites and Monuments Record or Historic Environment Record (your local authority archaeologist or equivalent can advise on this). In Northern Ireland, it is a condition of the licence that a summary report is forwarded to the licensing body within four weeks of the end or temporary cessation of any fieldwork. The licensing body also maintains the Monuments and Buildings Record (MBR) and should receive the original fieldwork archive or a complete and comprehensive copy. A report of the excavated materials and analyses should be disseminated and, where appropriate, published. See [Project Design and Project Report Checklists and definitions](/docs/17) (Module 17) of this document for a checklist of sections to include in a Post-excavation Assessment Report and a data structure report (a requirement for projects taking place in Scotland).

15. Consider publishing your project through a wide range of outlets so that it reaches a diverse audience. For example, journal articles, pamphlets, books and websites are all good formats, and interpretation panels, radio and television programmes, videos and popular publications can also be worthwhile. It is easy to underestimate how useful others will find your project results, so don’t hold back from disseminating your work as widely as possible.

16. 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). Other options include:
* [Heritage Open Days](http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk) in England
* [Doors Open Days](http://www.doorsopendays.org.uk) in Scotland
* [Open Doors Days](http://www.civictrustwales.org) in Wales
* [European Heritage Open Days](http://www.ehsni.gov.uk) in Northern Ireland.

The IfA’s checklist for Finds Work is included in [Project Design and Project Report Checklists and definitions](/docs/17) (Module 17) for reference.

## Suggested further reading

### IfA Standards and Guidance

* [IfA Standards and Guidance for the collection, documentation, conservation and research of archaeological materials](http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/node-files/ifa_standar...) (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

* Currie, C. (2005) _[Garden Archaeology: A Handbook](http://www.archaeologyuk.org/books/Currie2005)_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook Series no. 17
* Roberts, C. (2009) _[Human Remains in Archaeology: A Handbook](http://www.archaeologyuk.org/books/Roberts2008)_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook Series no. 19
* Steiner, M. (2006) _[Approaches to Archaeological Illustration: A Handbook](http://www.archaeologyuk.org/books/Steiner2006)_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook Series no. 18
* Webster, P. (1996) _[Roman Samian Pottery in Britain](http://www.archaeologyuk.org/books/Webster1996)_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbok Series no. 13
* Dellino-Musgrave, V. (2012) _[Marine Archaeology: A Handbook](http://www.archaeologyuk.org/books/Dellino-Musgrave2012)_. York, Council for British Archaeology, Practical Handbook Series no. 20

All CBA Practical Handbooks are available online at: www.britarch.ac.uk/books/handbooks or at CBA bookstalls at events across the country (see http://www.britarch.ac.uk/books/events)

### 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](www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications/glaas-standards-for-archaeologi...)
* Historic Scotland, (1996) _Archaeology Procedure Paper 2. Project design, implementation and archiving_. Edinburgh, Historic Scotland.
* Historic Scotland (2006) _The treatment of human remains in archaeology_. HS Operational Policy paper 5, 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 PDF 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 [Visit website](http://www.heritagecouncil.ie/publications/human_remains/index.html)
* D. Watkinson and V. Neal. (1997) _First Aid for Finds._ [Rescue](http://www.rescue-archaeology.freeserve.co.uk/pubs.html) and United Kingdom Institute for Conservation Archaeology Section, 3rd Edition. £21

### Other Guidance Sources

* 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 advice on data standards (terminology) see [Forum on Information Standards in Heritage (FISH)](http://www.fish-forum.info/)
* 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).
* If you are based in England or Wales, you can report significant finds, and also seek guidance on particular find types from the [Portable Antiquities Scheme](http://www.finds.org.uk). There is also a finds database which may be useful for research.
* [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.
* 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.
* The Shire Archaeology series of publications (http://www.shirebooks.co.uk/Archaeology) include a number of books on particular finds types.