Archaeologists excavating, planning and sampling a rare Neolithic structure at Marden Henge, Wiltshire © Historic England


Archaeology is the investigation of the physical remains of the past. This section describes the methods we use to excavate sites (intrusive investigations) and techniques we use to interpret the deposits and features we discover and the samples and finds that we recover.

You can find out more about non-intrusive archaeological methods (survey techniques) on the landscape survey and remote sensing pages.

You can follow our work on the Historic England Archaeology Twitter account @HE_Archaeology and search for our reports on the Research Reports Database.

A view looking down into the interior of the tower, showing two archaeologists discussing and recording the trench in front of them.


Archaeological excavation is the controlled examination and removal of the buried deposits and features that make up archaeological sites,

Photograph of tree trunk cross-section

Scientific Dating

Scientific dating uses biological and physical methods for assessing the time when things happened in the past. We offer advice and conduct research.

X-ray and photograph of sword and pommel

Archaeological Conservation

Archaeological conservators carry out investigative and remedial conservation from well-equipped laboratories. We offer advice and conduct research

metalworking experiment

Ancient Technology

Our experts study the production of metal and glass objects and associated waste (slag). We curate reference collections and offer advice

Labelled archive boxes on shelves within an archives store

Archaeological Archives

Archaeological archives consist of the records and finds made during an archaeological project

Screenshot showing the point location of finds, lines of sections and outlines of samples and context within a trench

Computers & Archaeology

An overview of how Historic England use computers for their archaeological excavations.

photograph of archaeological animal bones


Zooarchaeologists study archaeological animal bones. We develop methods, conduct analyses and curate a modern comparative collection

Reconstruction drawing of medieval tannery

Environmental Archaeology

Our environmental archaeologists include experts in the disciplines of archaeobotany, geoarchaeology, palaeoecology, zooarchaeology and human remains

Photograph of the old land surface found beneath Silbury Hill, Wiltshire


Geoarchaeologists use earth sciences to understand archaeology. We develop methods, conduct analyses and offer advice

Photograph of a crop being harvested in Wiltshire


Archaeobotanists study archaeological plant remains. We develop methods, conduct analyses and curate modern comparative collections

A triple burial dating to the Roman period, being excavated at Stanwick, Northamptonshire.

Human Osteoarchaeology

Osteoarchaeologists study archaeological human bones. We offer advice, conduct research and curate collections of Roman and medieval remains