Choosing a Site
Britain is a small island that has been densely populated for the past ten thousand years. Because of this, the
whole country is an archaeological site. A hole dug anywhere has the potential to uncover archaeological deposits.
Clearly the whole country cannot be excavated at once, so it is necessary to narrow down the area under investigation
by selecting a particular excavation site.
Frequently this decision is out of the control of the archaeologist. Since the entire country is an archaeological
site, it is not always possible to build new developments such as roads, housing estates, motorways, pipelines or
airports without affecting our archaeological heritage. Most of the archaeological work carried out today is done as
a response to these development pressures. In these cases, the area to be investigated is only that which will be
disturbed by the new development. This may or may not be the area of most archaeological interest.
Not all archaeological work is development led. Excavations may also take place for research and training or for
public information, education and community development. Archaeologists on these excavations have far more room for
manoeuvre in selecting a site of their choice. However even here issues such as land ownership and access, research
priorities and the needs and requirements of those funding the work may affect the choice of site.
Learn more about Development Led Excavation,
Research Led excavation, or return to Excavation.
- P. Barker, 'Understanding Archaeological Excavation' Batsford, London 1986.
- P. Barker, Techniques of Archaeological Excavation 3rd edition, Batsford, London 1993.