The first step in the planning process with regard to archaeology is often a desk-based assessment (DBA), a largely documentary study undertaken to assess the archaeological potential of a site, and carried out as a condition to planning consent or to accompany planning applications.

A DBA typically consists of a search of all readily available documentary sources in appropriate record offices, local studies libraries and other repositories, a search of the local authority Historic Environment Record, and a walkover of the site to assess current conditions and to assist in the assessment of archaeological significance.

A range of services is offered aimed at compliance with conservation legislation and planning consent.

  • Historic building assessments – Documentary study and structural analysis of a building to assess its historic and architectural significance. An historic building assessment is conducted in similar circumstances to a DBA (see Archaeological Assessments).
  • Historic building recording – Measured, photographic and written surveys carried out in compliance with English Heritage levels 1–4 as defined in Understanding Historic Buildings: a guide to good recording practice (English Heritage 2006). Usually undertaken to discharge an archaeological planning condition.
  • Below ground archaeology – Watching briefs and small-scale excavation undertaken in association with historic building investigation.
  • Listed building advice – Independent assessments of listability; advice on the legislative and planning framework; input into the design of alterations to listed properties to achieve listed building consent.

The following conservation management services are undertaken:

  • Conservation area appraisals – Appraisals of newly proposed conservation areas and reappraisals of existing ones in order to comply with the statutory duty of local authorities to designate conservation areas
  • Historic area assessments – Evaluations of the historic environment to define the character of an area, to understand the reasons behind its evolution, and to highlight the factors that underpin its unique character. Levels 1–3 carried out with reference to English Heritage guidelines.
  • Conservation plans - Essential tools in pinning down the special significance of an individual site or building through an archaeological and historic assessment. In understanding what it is about a particular site that makes it special, the formulation of effective policies for the protection and maintenance of its significant qualities is facilitated.

A general research service is provided, with specialisms in the following areas:

  • Family history – Searches of parish records, census returns, commercial and street directories and other records carried out. Family histories compiled.
  • Building histories – The structural development and tenurial history of individual buildings. Sources include historic mapping, census returns, architects’ drawings, building accounts, rate books, deeds, drawings, photographs, etc.
  • Picture research – Searches made for illustrations of particular buildings/ sites: photographs, drawings, engravings, paintings, etc.
  • Transcriptions and translations of Old and Modern French documents.
family-history french-translations

Interpretation of individual monuments and sites carried out for the education and guidance of visitors. Text and illustrations compiled for use in the following media:

  • Interpretation panels: for display within and around sites, monuments and historic buildings
  • Booklets and leaflets
  • Websites

A range of talks and lectures is offered on a series of archaeological and historical subjects to suit particular requirements. These might be centred on specific archaeological sites or historic buildings or on more wide ranging topics.