If you’ve found something that you think might be an archaeological object, or indeed Treasure, please read the advice from the Portable Antiquities Scheme below:
- Advice for finders of archaeological objects including Treasure | Portable Antiquities Scheme and the British Museum (PDF download) »
WHO YOU CAN REPORT TO
If you find something – whether a single item, group or a scatter – do consider whether it is better to take scaled photographs, notes and a sketch, and then seek advice, leaving the artefacts where they are while recording as exact a location as possible. Remember that memory can fade quickly too. In any respect, notes (and photos) should be taken about the context of a find. Collecting or selectively removing artefacts then removes them from their context – key to their research value – which means important information may be lost.
Any finds also, by law, belong to the landowners. For Eston Hills that is Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council and the farmers who manage agricultural land.
Chance finds can be reported to a local Historic Environment Record (HER) officer and/or the regional Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) finds liaison officer (FLO) who often hold regional open-sessions too. You might need to be patient since these folks are often extremely busy and many thousands of finds do get reported.
Many of the archaeological sites on the Eston Hills are protected ancient monuments under UK law. Metal detecting, while a useful component of archaeological surveying, is also potentially destructive. Removing any finds from their context removes their value in understanding our shared past. The same standards and ethical recording practices apply to this technique as all others in the archaeological portfolio.
Why Historic Environment Records are Important
HER records are more extensive and site-contextual, and are also far more detailed about locations and related GIS mapping (Geographical Information Systems). Reporting finds applies both to new projects and existing collections, and includes archaeology (usually stone tools), deposits and palaeoenvironmental sites.
In addition to supporting research, whether community based or academic, HERs are used to inform decision makers as part of the local and national planning process for development proposals and infrastructure projects that may affect the historic environment, such as residential, commercial, utilities, transport, windfarms, and so on.
HER image example © Staffordshire County Council.
- Read more about the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) | UK Government Department for Communities and Local Government 2012 | Historic England overview webpage »
Standards in Archaeological Practice
- The Historic England Management of Research Projects in the Historic Environment (MoRPHE) is a set of free guidelines covering the management of all historic environment research and ‘research and development’ (R&D) projects. The guidelines can be downloaded and provide a useful framework for volunteers and non-professional archaeologists too.
- The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) has a comprehensive series of best practice guidelines and checklists.
- Codes, Standards and Guidelines | CIfA Current
- Introduction to Standards and Guidance in Archaeological Practice | ISGAP is focused to support community-based projects, in association with Historic England, CIfA and the Council for British Archaeology.
Guidance about Lithics and Early Prehistoric Assets
- Managing Lithic Scatters: Archaeological guidance for planning authorities and developers | Historic England (English Heritage 2000 PDF)
- Sites of Early Human Activity: Designation Scheduling Selection Guide | Historic England (English Heritage 2012 PDF)
Planned fieldwork should always set out to answer research questions (see Recommended Reading). There are a number of excellent fieldwork guides available to download online. Many include equipment checklists and contain pro forma templates for field recording. Here are some of the best:
- Locating your site and National Grid References | West Yorkshire Archaeology Advisory Service (WYAAS) Guide 1
- Short Guide to Field Survey | British Archaeological Jobs Resource (BAJR)
- Fieldwalking Guide | WYAAS Guide 11
- Guide to Fieldwalking | Cambridge Archaeology Field Group (CAFG)
- WYAAS Archaeology Guides index
- Recording Sheets and Registers | Archaeological Research Services Ltd
In addition, there is an extensive range of archaeology guides on the British Archaeological Jobs and Resources (BAJR) website. Questions, but preferably not about finds identification, can be posted to the BAJR Facebook page (please observe the rules at the top of that page).
- A guide to best practice in creation, compilation, transfer and curation | Archaeological Archives Forum (AAF) 2007
- Standards for Deposition | Museum of London web resources and PDF downloads