Evaluation of Archaeological Decision-making Processes
and Sampling Strategies in Wales

Project No. GAT1943

There is broad agreement that the study represents a valuable opportunity to step back, take stock and think more generally about the strengths and weaknesses of developer-funded archaeological work and the role of development control archaeologists in Wales. The collation of the major infra-structure / open-area excavations carried out across Wales in the last decade through developer-funding was judged by all planning/development control archaeologists to be a useful exercise, at the very least for the purposes of reference. The collection of data from the four Trusts is also an opportunity to make comparisons across Wales.

The scoping study involved four principal elements:

Identification of relevant research literature;
Identification of and liaison with key organisations and individuals;
Identification of candidate projects from across Wales;
Pilot study of one candidate project.

Progress has been made with all elements. The most time consuming element, the identification of a long list of candidate projects from across Wales, has been carried out following visits to all Welsh Archaeological Trusts. Further consultation is required, however, to determine the resource implications for the involvement of the planning/development control archaeologists based at the Trusts. This will be identified when the final candidate list for full analysis has been agreed. This selection process would be one that includes a range of site types: archaeological period, area opened up, topography, nature of development, and so on. Several of the projects identified are still on-going, though due for completion to report stage within the 2008-9 time frame.

All the appropriate information has been obtained from Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust and Cambria, and preliminary information has been collected from Glamorgan-Gwent Archaeological Trust. The method of storing information made speedy collection unrealistic (58 possible sites identified). A summary list of the relevant sites has been compiled, but not finalised yet.

For all possible sites, a standard, basic, dataset was obtained, including:

development area size,
type of development,
recent land use,
geology and other factors.

Details of archaeological involvement was collated such as whether a desk-based assessment, fieldwalking, geophysics, evaluation trenches, and so on, was carried out. Information about excavated area and total trench area coverage was obtained for comparative purposes. This procedure follows Hey & Lacey fairly closely in terms of types of data. Further work is required on the identification of relevant research literature and liaison with key individuals and organisations, particularly in the light of feedback obtained from the planning/development control archaeologists.The study is in progress.

Emily La Trobe-Bateman