Mini journal logo  Home Issue Contents All Issues

The Post-excavation Analysis and Archiving of Outputs from Complex, Multi-period Landscape Investigations: the example of Heslington East, YorkOpen Data

Steve Roskams

Cite this as: Roskams, S. 2020 The Post-excavation Analysis and Archiving of Outputs from Complex, Multi-period Landscape Investigations: the example of Heslington East, York, Internet Archaeology 55. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.55.7

Summary

This article discusses the post-excavation analysis and archiving of data generated by fieldwork undertaken at Heslington East near York in the UK. This project, stretching over two decades, involved two commercial companies and a student training and local community element, and recently concluded with a thematic publication (Roskams and Neal 2020 ). The article has twin objectives. First, on a theoretical level, it reflects on the complex challenges that arise when attempting to combine diverse stratigraphic, spatial and assemblage data from different sources to reach meaningful interpretations of an extensive, multi-period landscape. Second, on a practical level, it aims to act as an introduction to the project's archives to make them accessible to future audiences, something that is essential if we are to enable any re-interpretation of the site.

Prehistoric and Roman waterhole in the course of excavation (foreground) with associated complex of intercutting. linear landscape divisions beside it (left). ©YAT
Prehistoric and Roman waterhole in the course of excavation (foreground) with associated complex of intercutting. linear landscape divisions beside it (left). ©YAT ( Heslington East Excavation Archive)

I suggest that such archives embody a series of transformations. These comprise first the interpretation of reconnaissance and evaluation procedures, converted to generate an excavation strategy, something briefly summarised here. I then discuss at greater length: the processes of post-excavation analysis of stratigraphic and spatial data, and their relationship with the MoRPHE requirement (Historic England 2006) to select particular assemblages for detailed analysis; linking the latter, specialist reports on selected assemblages to preliminary interpretations of site evidence, an iterative process that creates more soundly based understanding; and the recasting of summaries of the most significant evidence in these secondary interpretations to fit the thematic organisation of the published report. I argue that each of these hierarchically ordered transformations needs to be understood if we are to facilitate effective re-use of site archives.

  • Google Scholar
  • Related digital archive: University of York, York Archaeological Trust, On-Site Archaeology (2013) Heslington East Excavation Archive [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1019860
  • Keywords: Heslington East, York, archaeological archives, re-use, MoRPHE, PPG16, post-excavation analysis, thematic publication
  • Accepted: 5 Feb 2020. Published: 22 Sept 2020
  • Funding: The publication costs of this article were paid by the University of York, as site developer.
  • PDF download (main article text only)

Corresponding author: Steve RoskamsORCID logo
steve.roskams@york.ac.uk
Department of Archaeology, University of York

Full text

Figure 1 : Site location plan (contains OS MasterMap® Topography Layer [FileGeoDatabase geospatial data], Scale 1:1250, Tiles: GB, Updated: 1 November 2017, Ordnance Survey (GB), Using: EDINA Digimap Ordnance Survey Service, http://digimap.edina.ac.uk, Downloaded: 2018-05-29 11:49:34.438)

Figure 2: Site features on the edge of glacial moraine (brown) and water access points, kettle holes, palaeochannel, and wells

Figure 3 : Schoolchildren learning to reconstruct a Roman kiln, part of an attempt to give local people a sense of heritage engagement and thus ownership

Figure 4: Definition of priority zones A1-A3 and subsidiary zones B1-B7 ©York Archaeological Trust

Figure 5 : Patterning of geophysical prospection in one part of the site, darker areas indicating less damp zones. Trial trenches (red) were then set out in relation to this patterning, rather than distributed evenly across the development area

Figure 6a and Figure 6b: Two adjacent Roman inhumations of similar date buried in the same subsoil, showing differential survival over small distances

Figure 7 : Colour-coded features plotted for one part of the Heslington site. Linear features distinguish between: major ditches (purple), subsidiary ditches (brown) and furrows (grey); and closed cuts between wells (blue), pits (lime green) and structural features (mid-green) (possible pits are in orange and a possible structural element in dark red, projections of linear features in violet)

Figure 8 : Features generating late 4th-century coins, probable Anglian finds and proposed Anglian ceramics. The linear features in red show the reorganisation of this landscape at the very end of the Roman period, or perhaps beyond

Figure 9: Well with wickerwork lining, capped with clearly re-used masonry © Onsite Archaeology

Figure 10 : Roman period bowls/dishes (indicative of food serving) plotted against jars (storage), showing changes in Heslington signatures over time and compared with other sites in the Yorkshire region (York as diamonds, military sites squares, villas triangles, non-villa rural settlements circles). Heslington data is represented by red dots, divided between 3rd, early 4th and late 4th century CE materials. Assemblages from other centuries were too small to produce meaningful statistics.

Figure 11: Profile of late Roman masonry well, indicating stages of backfilling

Table 1: Summary of faunal data for main domesticates by fragment count across main site periods

Table 2: Summary of digital archives, held by ADS, and physical archives, lodged at the Yorkshire Museum

Aitchison, K. 2010 'Grey literature, academic engagement, and preservation by understanding', Archaeologies: Journal of the World Archaeological Congress 6 (2), 289-300. https:// doi.org/10.1007/s11759-010-9145-5

Andrews, G., Barrett, J.C. and Lewis, J. 2000 'Interpretation not record: the practice of archaeology', Antiquity 74(285), 525–30. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00059871

Atha, M. and Roskams, S. 2012 'Prehistoric and Roman transitions at Wharram Percy', in S. Wrathmell (ed) A History of Wharram Percy and Its Neighbours, York: University of York. 63-82.

Bauer-Clapp, H. and Kirakosian, K. 2017 'Archaeologists and archives: revisiting an old challenge', Advances in Archaeological Practice 5 (3), 220-26. https://doi.org/10.1017/aap.2017.16

Bayliss, A. 2015 'Quality in Bayesian chronological models in archaeology', World Archaeology 47 (4), 677-700. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438243.2015.1067640

Bonnie, R. 2011 '“Haven't we dug enough now?” Excavation in the light of intergenerational equity', Archaeological Dialogues 18 (1), 48-58. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1380203811000122

Bradley, R. 2007 The Prehistory of Britain and Ireland, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511618574

Buccellati, G. 2017 A Critique of Archaeological Reason: structural, digital, and philosophical aspects of the excavated record, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/9781107110298

Carver, M. 2003 Archaeological Value and Evaluation, Mantova: Societa Archeologica Padana.

Carver, M. 2006 'Thinking allowed', Rescue News 1009, 6-8.

Carver, M. 2009 Archaeological Investigation, London: Routledge.

Carver, M. 2011 Making Archaeology Happen: design vs. dogma, Walnut Creek, Calif: Left Coast Press.

Carver, M., Chapman, H., Cunliffe, B., Hassall, T., Hebditch, M., Lawson, A., Longworth, I., Morris, R., Phillipson, D., Schofield, J. and Wainwright, G. 1992 Archaeological Publication, Archives and Collections: Towards a National Policy, Society of Antiquaries and the Museums Association, London. (Printed as a supplement to British Archaeological News 7(2)). York.

Chadwick, A. 2003 'Post-processualism, professionalization and archaeological methodologies. Towards reflective and radical practice', Archaeological Dialogues 10 (1), 97-117. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1380203803001107

Cherry, J., 2011. 'Still not digging, much', Archaeological Dialogues 18(1), 10-17. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1380203811000055

Cobb H., Harris, O.J.T., Jones, C. and Richardson, P. 2012 'Reconsidering archaeological fieldwork, an introduction: confronting tensions in fieldwork and theory' in H. Cobb, O.J.T. Harris, C. Jones and P. Richardson (eds) Reconsidering Archaeological Fieldwork: exploring on-site relationships between theory and practice, Boston, MA: Springer. 1-14. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-2338-6_1

Cooney, G., 2009. 'European and global archaeologies', World Archaeology 41(4), 626-28. https://doi.org/10.1080/00438240903402695

Council for British Archaeology/Department of Environment 1982 The Publication of Archaeological Excavations, Report of a Joint Working Party of the Council for British Archaeology and the Department of the Environment. London: Council for British Archaeology and Department of the Environment.

Darvill, T., Barrass, K., Constant, V., Milner, E. and Russell, B. 2019 Archaeology in the PPG16 Era: investigations in England, 1990-2010, Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Demoule, J-P. 2002 'Rescue archaeology: the French way', Public Archaeology 2(3), 170-77. https://doi.org/10.1179/pua.2002.2.3.170

Depaepe, P. 2016 'Preventive archaeology, scientific research and public outreach: some non-politically correct thoughts' in P. Novaković, M. Horňák, M. Guermandi, H. Stäuble, P. Depaepe and J-P. Demoule (eds) Recent Developments in Preventive Archaeology in Europe, Proceedings of the 22nd EAA Meeting in Vilnius, Ljubljana. 33-40.

Department of Environment 1975 Principles of Publication in Rescue Archaeology, Report by a Working Party of the Ancient Monuments Board for England Committee for Rescue Archaeology. London: Department of the Environment.

Edgeworth, M. 2003 Acts of Discovery: An Ethnography of Archaeological Practice, British Archaeol. Rep. Int. Series 1131. Oxford: Archaeopress.

Edgeworth, M. 2011 'Excavation as a ground for archaeological knowledge', Archaeological Dialogues 18(1), 44–46. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1380203811000109

Engel, C. and Grossner, K. 2015 'The archaeological process at Çatalhöyük: creating a living archive' in I. Hodder and A. Marciniak (eds) Themes in Contemporary Archaeology: Assembling Çatalhöyük, Leeds: Maney Publishing. 13-23.

Evans, C. 1989 'Archaeology and modern times: Bersu's Woodbury 1938 and 1939', Antiquity 63(240), 436-50. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00076419

Evans, C., Appleby, G. and Lucy, S. 2016 Lives in Land: Mucking excavations by Margaret and Tom Jones, 1965-78, Oxford: Oxbow Books.

Evans, J. and Wilson, J., 2018. 'Inclusive archives and recordkeeping: towards a critical manifesto', International Journal of Heritage Studies 24(8), 857-60. https://doi.org/10.1080/13527258.2018.1428671

Evans, T. 2013 'Holes in the archaeological record? A comparison of national event databases for the Historic Environment in England', The Historic Environment: Policy and Practice 4(1), 19-34. https://doi.org/10.1179/1756750513Z.00000000023

Evans, T.N.L. and Moore, R.H. 2014 'Beyond "The preserving machine": promoting use and reuse of grey literature and grey data', The Archaeological Review from Cambridge 29(2), 212-25.

Everill, P. and Irving, P. (eds) 2015 Rescue Archaeology. Foundations for the Future, Hertford: Rescue.

Giles, M. 2007 'Good fences make good neighbours? Exploring the ladder enclosures of late Iron Age East Yorkshire' in C. Haselgrove and T. Moore (eds), The Later Iron Age in Britain and Beyond. Oxford: Oxbow Books, 235-49. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvh1dsh9.15

Hamilton, S. 1999 'Lost in translation? A comment on the excavation report', Papers from the Institute of Archaeology 10, 1–8. https://doi.org/http://doi.org/10.5334/pia.140

Historic England 2006 Management of Research Projects in the Historic Environment: The MoRPHE Project Managers' Guide. London: Historic England.

Hodder, I. 1997 '"Always momentary, fluid and flexible": towards a reflexive excavation methodology', Antiquity 71(273), 691-700. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00085410

Hurst, H. and Roskams, S. 1984 Excavations at Carthage: the British Mission, vol. 1.1: The Avenue de President Habib Bourguiba, Salammbo: The Site and Finds other than Pottery. Sheffield: British Academy.

Jackson, S., Lennox, R., Neal, C., Roskams, S., Hearle, J. and Brown, L. 2014 'Engaging communities in the 'Big Society': What impact is the localism agenda having on community archaeology?', The Historic Environment: Policy and Practice 5(1), 74-88. https://doi.org/10.1179/1756750513Z.00000000043

Kansa, S. and Kansa, E. 2018 'Data beyond the archive in digital archaeology: an introduction to the special section', Advances in Archaeological Practice 6(2), 89-92. https://doi.org/10.1017/aap.2018.7

Landward Research Ltd 2014 Profiling the Profession. York: Archaeology Data Service. https://doi.org/10.5284/1024571

Lucas, G. 2001 'Destruction and the rhetoric of excavation', Norwegian Archaeological Review 31, 35–46. https://doi.org/10.1080/00293650119347

Lucas G. 2012 Critical Approaches to Fieldwork: Contemporary and Historical Archaeological Practice. London: Routledge.

Museum of London 1986 DUA Archive Report Writing Manual. Unpublished: Museum of London.

Neal, C. and Roskams, S. 2013 'Authority and Community: reflections on archaeological practice at Heslington East, York', Historic Environment: Policy and Practice 4(2), 139-55. https://doi.org/10.1179/1756750513Z.00000000032

Novakoviç, P., Horňák, M., Guermandi, M., Stäuble, H., Depaepe, P. and Demoule, J-P. (eds) 2016 Recent Developments in Preventive Archaeology in Europe, Proceedings of the 22nd EAA Meeting in Vilnius, Ljubljana.

Orange, H. and Perring, D. 2017 'Commercial archaeology in the UK: public interest, benefit and engagement' in G. Moshenka (ed) Key Concepts in Public Archaeology, London: UCL Press. 139–50. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctt1vxm8r7.14

Patrik, L. 1985 'Is there an archaeological record?', Advances in Archaeological Method and Theory 8, 27-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-003108-5.50007-5

Perring, D. 1999 Heslington Campus, City of York, Unpublished report: University of York.

Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) 16 1990 Archaeology and planning https://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20100305092137/http://www.communities.gov.uk/documents/planningandbuilding/pdf/156777.pdf

Rahtz, P. (ed) 1974 Rescue Archaeology, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Ronayne, M. 2008 'The state we're in on the eve of World Archaeological Congress (WAC) 6: Archaeology in Ireland vs Corporate Takeover and a Reply from University College Dublin', Public Archaeology 7(2), 114-31, https://doi.org/10.1179/175355308X330016

Roskams, S. 2001 Excavation, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Roskams, S. 2012 'Late Antique field archaeology: a legitimate aim?' in L. Lavan and M. Mulryan (eds) Field Methods and Post-Excavation Techniques in Late Antique Archaeology, Leiden: Brill. 17-50.

Roskams, S. and Neal, C. 2020 Landscape and Settlement in the Vale of York: Archaeological investigations at Heslington East, York, 2003–13, London: Society of Antiquaries of London. https://doi.org/10.26530/20.500.12657/39942

Roskams, S. and Whyman, M. 2007 'Categorising the past: lessons from the archaeological resource assessment for Yorkshire', Internet Archaeology 23. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.23.2

Roskams, S., Neal, C., Richardson, J., and Leary, R. 2013 'A Late Roman well at Heslington East, York: ritual or routine practices?', Internet Archaeology 34. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.34.5

Sandoval, G. 2020 An Epistomology of Archaeological Excavation: a comparative study of British field practice, Unpublished PhD: University of York.

Schlanger, N. and Aitchison, K. (eds) 2010 Archaeology and the Global Economic Crisis: multiple impacts, possible solutions, Tervuren, Belgium: Culture Lab Editions.

Spence, C. 1990 The Museum of London Archaeological Site Manual, 2nd edition. London: Museum of London Archaeology Service.

Stefánsdóttir, A. 2019 'An introduction to development-led archaeology in Europe: meeting the needs of archaeologists, developers and the public', Internet Archaeology 51. https://doi.org/10.11141/ia.51.9

Thomas, R.M. 1991 'Drowning in data? Publication and rescue archaeology in the 1990s', Antiquity 65(4), 822-28. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0003598X00080546

Thorpe, R. 2012 'Often fun, usually messy: fieldwork, recording and higher orders of things' in H. Cobb, O.J.T Harris, C. Jones and P. Richardson (eds) Reconsidering Archaeological Fieldwork: exploring on-site relationships between theory and practice, Boston, MA: Springer, 31-52. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-2338-6_3

Watson, S. 2019 'Whither archaeologists? Continuing challenges to field practice'. Antiquity 93(372), 1643-52. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2019.141

University of York, York Archaeological Trust, On-Site Archaeology 2013 Heslington East Excavation Archive [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1019860

Webley, L., Vander Linden, M., Haselgrove, C. and Bradley, R. (eds) 2012 Development-led Archaeology in Northwest Europe: proceedings of a round table at the University of Leicester, 19th-21st November 2009, Oxford: Oxbow Books. https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctvh1dvc8

Wright, H. and Richards, J. 2018 'Reflections on collaborative archaeology and large-scale online research infrastructures', Journal of Field Archaeology 43, sup. 1, S60-S67. https://doi.org/10.1080/00934690.2018.1511960

Internet Archaeology is an open access journal based in the Department of Archaeology, University of York. Except where otherwise noted, content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY) Unported licence, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided that attribution to the author(s), the title of the work, the Internet Archaeology journal and the relevant URL/DOI are given.

Terms and Conditions | Legal Statements | Privacy Policy | Cookies Policy | Citing IA

Internet Archaeology content is preserved for the long term with the Archaeology Data Service. Help sustain and support open access publication by donating to our Open Access Archaeology Fund.