Historic Environment Division, Causeway Exchange, 1-7 Bedford Street, Belfast BT2 7EG, Northern Ireland. Email: John.O'Keeffe@communities-ni.gov.uk
Cite this as: O'Keeffe, J.D.J. 2018 'Do I really need to dig it?' — Making Choices in Development-Led Archaeological Excavation in Northern Ireland, Internet Archaeology 49. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.49.7
Most excavations in Northern Ireland arise from new development or land-use change proposals. The requirement to mitigate usually results in an excavation of sub-surface remains, with a nuanced approach in dealing with urban, peri-urban and rural sites. In this responsive situation, and the timescales involved, such excavations do not fall neatly into any pre-existing research framework. The dominant questions will normally be 'Is there something there, and will it be otherwise destroyed? Does it need to be excavated?', and one response might be that an excavation is necessary. However, there is a core knowledge and evidence-base that underlies the thought processes involved, which archaeologists and archaeological managers use to try to navigate the most appropriate course of action. This knowledge and evidence-base needs renewal, and building this into the process helps to more clearly articulate why, or why not, an excavation is the best outcome at a specific site.
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