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T5 Heathrow recording
I did come across a fly in the ointment though.

It would principlally operate around the notions of:

Who determines objectivity?
By what method of operative grading are we to presume, or assume objectivity within objectives?
I think however, I have misrepresented my position by identifying the character of professionalism, inherent within the roles, whilst I do feel that there are interesting alternatives within the manner of industry assessment required to establish the range of interests that can be introduced.

At this stage it may be that the manner of mentoring and educational input can provide significnat scope within the characterisation of data, whilst I feel there is a need to wide scale interst and input involved from all stakeholders within appropriate professional consultations.

That is not to say that I am infering for IFA positioning, nor for EH or Local authority oversight, but rather that because of the nature of the elements I am seeking to discuss I feel that it is important to establish a need for internal consultations in initiating such a debate.

I suspect I may be of some use to you. I was heavily involved in the Framework excavations at both Heathrow and Stansted, and worked on the post-excavation and publication of both. The recording system is quite a big topic, so it might be quite a long discussion Smile It is worth pointing out too, that the recording system used was part of a much wider approach to the archaeology, which started with a more reflexive (yes, I hate that word, but that's the one we used) approach to the archaeology, involving a staged approach to excavation designed to allow us to target our excavation most effectively. In practice that meant a 2 staged approach to the excavation where a series of targeted interventions were dug and recorded, the sheets checked and entered into the database, finds spot dated and added to the database, and in some cases environmental samples assessed, whilst feature plans were digitised and the sections scanned. All of that was queried on site using a GIS, and the results of the first phase of excavation work used to target further excavation work designed to raise specific queries raised by the initial excavations

Obviously the paper recording system was a major part of this. there was indeed much emphasis placed on interpretation. As others say, interpretation is nothing new, but the principal aim of this was to encourage diggers to think about depositional processes, how the features they excavated are likely to have changed over time, how they related to the wider landscape, and how they are likely to have affected human activity and understanding of the landscape. a big part of this was the grouping of feature fills as well as cuts.

In order to help this process, there were indeed weekly tours of the site, diggers were encouraged to use the GIS to aid with their interpretation, a geo-archaeologist was invited to give seminars on formation processes and the interpretation of specific depositional processes on the site, and there was also a day of lectures on sites in the area and other relevant sites. John Barrett was heavily involved in formulating the academic ethos of the system, and made several trips to the site and lectured to the diggers.

I'm sure if i sat down and thought about it longer, i could probably give you chapter and verse, but these days my brain is weak and full of 10 years of more recent sites. feel free to ask any specific questions you have, and i will do my best to help

i probably do have copies of sheets somewhere, or can at least get hold of them. Bear in mind though, they did evolve over time as we encountered and overcame various issues

As far as I know the system has been used little since. Bear in mind it was designed largely for dealing with excavations of massive areas of landscape, and requires on site finds and IT presence plus an extended program of excavation in order to work at its best - so, time and money... Haven't done many projects like that recently. It was, however, I believe used in a modified form on the excavations on the East Kent Access Rd, although not having worked on that particular project I'm not well placed to say in what form

Hope that helps a little

Rather than me hold forth about the merits or otherwise of the recording system, perhaps it might be easier if you let me know what you want, and I'll try and help where i can
Oh, and we tried the video diary thing very briefly. What would happen was that someone would talk for about 20 seconds, then a plane would take off. then another minute and a plane would land, shortly followed by another taking off.... There must be hours of footage of supervisors swearing in frustration somewhere....
hi aadvark, thanks for taking the time for such a detailed post very interesting. As a purely practical point, was there any time lag between the first 'assessment' of excavation spot dates, enviro samples drawn record etc and the subsequent formulation of more targeted excavation? My main problem when I try and get specialist feedback etc for big sites is that I never get it back in time!. Was the 'on the spot' assessment still done for certain areas first and staged?
Hi gumbo

We did on site finds processing and had a finds supervisor who did id's and spot dating, supported by finds specialists who did site visits every week or two to provide advice and confirm dates on less certain id's. Inevitably there was a time lag, the GIS only works if the data is in there. To speed the process up, there was a 2 phase approach to data entry, with basic context info being entered rapidly and there was emphasis on getting feature plans in particular digitised and on the GIS. We had an office on site with scanners and dedicated data entry computers. Enviro samples never managed to keep pace with the excavations, although we were able to target which samples were prioritised.

In general it worked well at Heathrow, where it was a large set piece excavation and we weren't under massive time pressure to sign off areas. That meant we could do the first phase of interventions and move on to a different area whilst the finds processing and data management caught up, before returning to undertake the second phase. It was also to our advantage that we didnt find massive quantities of finds.... thus meaning the turn around time was quicker

Stansted was another matter. We were under much more time pressure to hand over areas and inevitably found more artefacts. We had to be more flexible in our approach. Fortunately most of the project officers, supervisors and some of the diggers had been through Heathrow and we were able to adapt. In practice we had to identify key assemblages from features as we went for spot dating, and couldnt afford any time lag between the 2 phases of excavation. Fortunately the county mounty was excellent and was a massive help, and i think we did a pretty damn good job, despite the worst winter in my 25 years of digging. Not sure i'd fancy doing it again though

I'm not sure how it worked on the EKA road scheme, although i did hear tales of some lag. i do know they found a lot of archaeology, and plenty of artefacts....

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