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Getting it Together: Combining information about archaeological sites and artefacts in ARIADNE

Julian D. Richards

Cite this as: Richards, J.D. 2023 Getting it Together: Combining information about archaeological sites and artefacts in ARIADNE, Internet Archaeology 64.


This article discusses the situation that exists in several European countries, whereby information about archaeological sites and monuments, and that about finds recorded by members of the public (primarily via metal detecting), is held in entirely separate databases. This prevents heritage management decisions being taken with full awareness of known archaeology, and makes research that seeks to draw on multiple information resources difficult. The article demonstrates how the European ARIADNE e-infrastructure has facilitated the integration of large-scale artefact and site information. Over one million records from the British Museum Portable Antiquities Scheme database and over one million records for English sites, monuments, and grey literature have been integrated in an open access interface for the first time, permitting entirely new research questions to be addressed.

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  • Keywords: Big data, data aggregation, interoperability, artefact databases, monument inventories
  • Accepted: 26 July 2023. Published: 31 October 2023
  • Funding: This article was funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 ARIADNEplus grant agreement n. 823914.
  • PDF download (main article text only)

Corresponding author: Julian D. RichardsORCID logo
University of York

Full text

Figure 1: Comparison of chronological ranges:

  • Figure 1a: ADS sites and monuments records (n=775,776)
  • Figure 1b: PAS all records (n=945,228)

Figure 2: Comparison of chronological ranges:

Figure 3: Comparison of chronological range of the Getty classification 'Pins (fasteners)':

Figure 4: Heat map distribution of all finds recorded in the PAS:

Figure 5: Central and Eastern England:

  • Figure 5a: Mesolithic artefacts from the PAS (n=1772)
  • Figure 5b: Mesolithic activity recorded as sites and monuments records (n=2445)

Figure 6: Results list from a search for early medieval brooches of the period AD 400-650, recorded in the PAS (n=5817)

Figure 7:

  • Figure 7a: distribution of known cemeteries of the period 400-650 from sites and monuments records (n=2444)
  • Figure 7b: distribution of brooches dated to the period 400-650 recorded in the PAS (n=6042)

Figure 8: The East Yorkshire region, centred on the Anglo-Saxon royal centre at Driffield:

  • Figure 8a: the distribution of known Anglo-Saxon cemeteries from sites and monuments data
  • Figure 8b: The distribution of Anglo-Saxon brooches dated AD 450-600 from the PAS. Note that the points represent 1km square bounding boxes, rather than precise locations

Figure 9: The record for Kilham Anglo-Saxon cemetery, derived from the Historic England national inventory. The nearby red markers indicate the approximate location of finds recorded by the PAS, including several examples of early Anglo-Saxon metalwork

Figure 10: Entry for an Anglo-Saxon copper-alloy brooch recorded in the PAS, and the fieldwork record for a survey conducted of ploughed-out ring ditches at Wickhambreaux, Kent, adjacent to the find spot

Figure 11: The metadata record for the Historic England Research Report detailing the geophysical survey recording the ploughed-out ring ditches at Wickhambreaux, with Digital Object Identifier (DOI) link to download the report

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