BAJR Federation Archaeology

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Seems to me that if planning officers aren't getting the fact that you can only say if there is or isn't archaeology in a particular spot by finding out if there is archaeology in that spot, then it's an issue of poor communication rather than methodology. And I genuinely can't see how you can risk stuff being destroyed just in an effort to chase some arbitrary success rate judged solely on finding things. Seems rather against the principles of archaeology.
My research background is in site predictive modelling so I have a little experience with predicting sites, negative evals, etc.

Across dozens of countries, countless environments, countless cultures, all manner of sites and time periods you can predict with pretty high accuracy and precision where you will find sites. In the last area I looked at 93% of the land was devoid of sites. If you were to take a random piece of land (no such thing as random in landscapes but imagine for a moment) there was a 93% chance you would find nothing. I can even predict where in that 7% that you find sites you will find a certain type of site e.g. camp, cave, quarry, etc.

Great you say, we don't need to do archaeology for everything. Well 30, closer to 40, years of work on predictive modelling and pretty much everyone has come to the same conclusion, including myself, always always always always conduct an evaluation. Even when you can say with a certain high level of certainty that no site will be at location A you will find something occasionally. Moreover, not finding something is just as valuable as finding something. For site predictive modelling to work you need to have lots of areas with "known" nothing. The best you can do is advise developers the potential costs e.g. if you build there expect to pay X.
I suppose in answer to all of your points having been digging and acting as a council archaeologist since 1995 I cannot think of a single unexpected find that was found on a genuinely blank field, I can think of lots where things were better or worse than the her predicted but not much that was 'there was nothing within 500m and now there is something of regional significance' and the figures from Scotland back this up! But I can't convince anyone, so I'll keep quiet!
Quote:The best you can do is advise developers the potential costs e.g
Thing is that every bugger treats evaluation as a full archive and recording almost to publication status exercise. What I want is that it isn't. That it is considered that an archaeologist takes a machine and does a few trenches and then reports on the planning application prior to determination whether there is anything worth archiving. In other words a very short memo type document masquerading as a grand archaeological report and this to be the sole site archive possibly containing one or two pictures and possibly a low resolution plan of the archaeologists choice. All finds left property of landowner/ archaeologist.

I don't think that in any way an evaluation report should be something that can be used by a developer to tender for excavation work.
It is virtually impossible in the UK to find a landscape that in some manner or another has not been modified directly by human action or as a result of human action sometime in the past 9000 years. Therefore 'archaeology' is everywhere. Whether we choose to record it or the degree to which we choose to record it or the period we decide to record is another matter. The 90% plus claim for 'nothing' is ridiculous......90% for 'can't be bothered to look for the wood amongst the trees' is actually the reality.....
Not excavating is a self-fulfilling prophesy which will propagate itself. If you don't excavate, you definitely don't find anything. This will tell the next development that "Nothing's been found here". It won't mention that nothing's been found because nobody bothered looking.

By the same token, if you excavate but don't publish, that has the same end result. There have been three excavations in my local town which found significant Roman remains. As these have never been published, the local planners take this as meaning that there's no archaeology in the area - goodness knows what's being missed during building work. Different discussion though.
There is no such thing as "Nothing" even if there are no archaeologicl features and finds there is a sequence of deposits that reflect the processes that formed them and will inform any future work in the area.
Not published should not be an issue as long as there is an archive and a report in the grey literature which is refered to in the appropriate HER. If planners are not refering the HER then they should be lined up against the wall and shot (come the heritage revolution:face-kissSmile

And anyone digging a hole and not producing something for the HER will join them academic, commercial or amateur
Quote:The 90% plus claim for 'nothing' is ridiculous......90% for 'can't be bothered to look for the wood amongst the trees' is actually the reality.....
actually Kev I can find archaeology on a 100 %. and I am not that good. Thing is 99% of it is really boring and not very significant and I cant be bothered to record it too the really expensive great degree where I have to have discussions with museum curators about whether I can discard the bricks and ask them how much they are going to charge to take the stupidly expensive photographic record of possible posthole/badger sections, its never going to be fully excavated let alone make it to any museum mantel piece.. but I want to look at the 100% with a fast and "inexpensive" archaeological evaluation of my choice and produce maybe a 1:50 plan with a little note saying ditch with early saxon looking pot and I toss the pot back into the spoil and then write a little note on the planning application saying that the archaeology has been "done" on the site care of Unitof1. I particularly don't want any government pension grabber telling me that I haven't "done" it according to their handbook. And the reason that I don't want a pension grabber about is that they sit around all day talking to developers telling 99% of them that they don't have to worry about an archaeological condition because something called an HER which costs an unsustainable fortune to run (paid for now by archaeologists), tells them somehow that they don't need an archaeologist when in fact they are doing archaeology by telling the developer that and presumably their time is paid for by the tax payer.

Heres a scenario

little old lady rings up some self proclaimed county archaeologist

little old lady:
Hello I want to develop an old gravel quarry site. It has been totally excavated. Do I need to produce any archaeological evidence.

County thingymogig:
No (then just to be sure checks the old HER backs this up(this will take at least three days))

rather than before going anyway near planning control

little old lady:
Hello I want to develop an old gravel quarry site. It has been totally excavated. Do I need to produce any archaeological evidence.

Probably best I did a site visit. I charge a minimum half day. Have you already bought the site and have you considered asking for any claw backs on the sale price with the seller for archaeological expenses.
Most of my best finds over the years, including several which fit the criteria for 'national significance' turned up courtesy of the Mark 1 Eyeball during topsoil stripping in supposedly 'blank' areas [plus my Bronze Age sword I fished out of a machine bucket]...and I think I've commented on here before about my little programme a while back getting C14 dates for 'undated' pits? There's usually something if you look hard enough, it's just that many people sadly dont Sad
As Unit and Wax point out, the idea of finding nothing at all is ludicrous, there is always something, and how important it is perhaps depends how you look at it. You wonder how much of it comes down to people's perception of what is important. A couple of undated ditches might be nothing, but in an area where ceramics (and finds in general) are pretty rare between about 400 AD and 1000 AD (which is quite a few areas I would imagine) those ditches might be very important. Seen too many reports written by people coming into an area which are very ready to write-off things as not important when then they are perhaps used to finding more juicy archaeology.
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