An archaeological archive consists of the records and finds made during an archaeological project, including written or drawn documentation, digital files, and materials such as pottery, stone, metalwork, animal bone and wood.
'Dig Digital toolkit' launched
The Dig Digital toolkit is designed to support all practitioners across the UK and beyond.
The Dig Digital project is a Historic England funded initiative developed by the Archaeological Archives Forum and delivered by DigVentures with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA). The work has created a toolkit and resource to support everyday management of digital data in archaeological projects.
The toolkit provides supplementary guidance for those creating archives destined for any trusted digital repository, with usable tools to support data management and implementation of good practice. Through inclusion and review of documentation throughout a project, the management of data can be responsive, proportionate and considered – securing a 'FAIR' future for archaeological information on the principles of findability, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability.
The Joint Statement below from the Archaeological Archives Forum has been endorsed by its members, including representative bodies from across the heritage sector and the UK. The statement highlights that all heritage professionals can support the effective management of digital data in archaeological projects.
Archaeological Archives at Historic England
The Archaeological Archives team cares for and compiles the archives produced during Historic England archaeology projects. Compilation involves documenting, packing and ordering the archive to facilitate the retrieval of information or objects. At the end of a project, the archive will be transferred to a museum, repository or digital archive where it will be curated and made accessible for further research, education or enjoyment.
Standards for archiving
The Archaeological Archives Team develops internal standards for the creation, compilation and transfer for archaeological archives. This includes a protocol for the archiving of digital data (known as ADAPt, see below), which is accessible for reference and use by anyone who creates or manages digital material in archaeology.
All our standards are developed in line with existing guidance and standards. These include ‘A guide to best practice in the creation, compilation, transfer and curation of archaeological archives’, which was produced by the Archaeological Archives Forum with support from Historic England's predecessor. Historic England is also represented on the Archaeological Archives Working Party of the Europae Archaeologia Consilium, which has produced ‘A Standard and Guide to Best Practice for Archaeological Archiving in Europe’.
Archaeological Data Archiving Protocols (ADAPt)
ADAPt is a toolkit of templates, checklists, and pro-forma specifically designed to integrate archiving into the data creation process.
We create digital files in almost every area of our work, from collecting data to producing images or writing reports. It is essential that our data are managed to ensure they remain secure and accessible both now and into the future. That means planning for the digital archive at the beginning of a project and not leaving it all until the end.
The Historic England Archaeological Archives team are available for advice on all aspects of archaeological archiving.
We also engage with, or lead, national discussions on widely shared problems around archaeological archive practice and curation. These include the development of an Archaeological Archive Selection Toolkit; Guidance on the Rationalisation of Archaeology Collections; surveys of museum collecting and expertise; Planning for Archives; Digital Data in Archaeology.
We can also offer advice on the history of published research in Historic England and its predecessors, as well as how to publish current and future projects within this established series.