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Geophysical Survey Advice

Geophysical survey is a valuable tool for discovering buried remains and for better understanding archaeological monuments and historic buildings. A number of techniques can be used, each measuring different physical properties of the ground, and it is important to choose the right combination of methods for the site being investigated.

Advice on Geophysical Survey

The Geophysics Team offers advice on all aspects of geophysical survey underpinned by many years of field experience using both routine techniques and helping develop the application of new cutting-edge instruments. Much of our advice is summarised in our guidelines on Geophysical Survey in Archaeological Field Evaluation which are available as a free PDF download.

On 1 April 2015 the part of English Heritage represented on this website changed its name to Historic England. You may notice that some of our content still refers to English Heritage. We are in the process of rebranding, but in the meantime please be assured that all our content and guidance is still current.

Geophysical Survey in Archaeological Field Evaluation

Geophysical Survey in Archaeological Field Evaluation

Published 1 April 2008

Guidance to help archaeologists better understand and engage with the techniques of geophysical survey.

Download the latest EAC guidelines for Geophysical Survey:

EAC Guidelines for the Use of Geophysics in Archaeology

EAC Guidelines for the Use of Geophysics in Archaeology

Published 25 January 2016

In collaboration with the International Society for Archaeological Prospection, we have created an updated version of our guidance which has now been published as Guidelines 2 by the European Archaeological Council

Download a PDF of our guidelines for Marine Geophysical Survey:

Marine Geophysics Data Acquisition, Processing and Interpretation

Marine Geophysics Data Acquisition, Processing and Interpretation

Published 29 May 2013

Information on commonly used geophysical techniques in shallow water surveying and guidance on the acquisition, processing and interpretation of geophysical data for the assessment of the archaeological potential of the marine environment.

Download a PDF of our guidelines for Archaeomagnetic dating:

Section 42 Licences for surveys of scheduled monuments

A Section 42 licence is required to carry out a geophysical survey over a scheduled monument or other protected place. Licences are issued by the relevant local office. However, the Geophysics Team can advise on survey considerations.

As a condition of the licence, a paper copy of a report on the survey should be sent to the Inspector who issued the licence along with a completed copy of the Geophysical Survey Summary Questionnaire. A digital copy should be sent to the Inspector and to the Geophysics Team Manager

A copy should also be lodged with the relevant local Historic Environment Record (HER) in their preferred format. HER contact details can be found at Heritage Gateway.

It is also requested that surveyors make a record signposting their investigation with the Archaeology Data Service using their online OASIS Data Collection form.

Please contact: for information and training.

Both the report and ADS entry should be submitted no later than 3 months after completion of the survey.


The English Heritage Geophysical Survey Database was merged into the Archaeology Data Service OASIS Index of Archaeological Investigations in 2011 and the new, more comprehensive, resource is available on the ADS website.

Our own geophysical survey reports are accessible online via Research Reports.

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Paul Linford

Geophysics Manager

Remote Sensing, Research Group

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