Post-Excavation Panic!

ADHD & Asperger's teeshirt; image courtesy of
ADHD & Asperger’s teeshirt; image courtesy of

I believe I have said it before. One of the main purposes of this blog is to get my thoughts straight. And if I ever need to get my thoughts clear it is now! I have a reasonable idea of what needs to be done to complete our 2013 Newmarket Farm Dig – it is just that there is so much still to do that I don’t know where to start. The tasks to complete are;

  • Draw maps
  • Draw plans
  • Collate notes
  • Collate photos
  • Process finds
  • Write & submit dig report
  • Collate & deposit the dig archive
  • Public presentation to celebrate!

Each task involves many steps. Fortunately, over the past two years, I have had advice and support from Lisa Fisher (Archaeology Services Lewes), Archaeology South-East, Brighton & Hove Archaeological Society, Brighton Museum, Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology Society, Luke Barber (Sussex Archaeology Society), Sussex Military History Society, Chris Butler (Sussex School of Archaeology), and the Sussex Weald Young Archaeologists Club, amongst others, reviewing my contexts, sorting our finds into their different types, washing our pot and glass, preliminary finds identification, advice on report writing, etc. Unfortunately I have had so much advice and support, including reading material from a number of academic books and the Internet, it has left my head spinning!

MoRPHE – Summary of Stages and Products

So, back to the beginning, and my Newmarket Farm Excavation Project Design document. Based on published advice from the East Sussex County Archaeologist, I largely followed Historic England’s Management of Research Projects in the Historic Environment. From this I produced a ‘Summary of Stages and Products’ in advance of starting the dig.

  1. Start up ✔
    1. Research products
      1. Aims & objectives ✔
      2. Research agendas ✔
      3. Strategies & policies ✔
      4. Business case ✔
      5. Project brief ✔
    2. Dissemination products
      1. Initial communication with stakeholders ✔
      2. Project Proposal document completed and circulated ✔
  2. Review Point R1: Objectives clear and relevant ✔
  3. Initiation
    1. Research products ✔
      1. Project Design document written ✔
      2. Aims & Objectives ✔
      3. Business Case ✔
      4. Stakeholders ✔
      5. Project Execution Stages and their Products ✔
      6. Risk Log ✔
      7. Project Team ✔
      8. Communication methods ✔
      9. Review Points ✔
      10. Site access agreed ✔
    2. Archive products
      1. Project Management Archive created
      2. Archive repository identified ✔
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Communication with specialists
      2. Communication with stakeholders
  4. Review Point R2: Project Design achievable? ✔
    1. Is it in line with current advice?
    2. Is the proposed methodology appropriate?
  5. Execution stage:
    1. Field Investigation – to be conducted as a series of stages;
      1. Site infrastructure, grid & survey
      2. E garden boundary wall
      3. S garden boundary wall & associated features
      4. W garden/farmyard wall to S of house site
      5. N garden boundary wall & associated features
      6. House site & associated features
      7. Demolition rubble mound to E of house site
    2. Research products
      1. Site infrastructure established
      2. Storage arrangement for archive agreed
      3. Staff briefings conducted
      4. Field research completed
      5. Interventions made
      6. Data captured
        1. Maps
        2. Plans
        3. Notes
        4. Photos
        5. Finds
      7. Potential of data assessed
      8. Checked conformance to standards
      9. Assessment of the potential of the results, or products to achieve the Aims and Objectives of the project
    3.  Archive products
      1. Site Archive established and updated
        1. Digital archive established
        2. Metadata for files captured
        3. Paper archive established
        4. Artefact archive processed for storage
    4. Dissemination products
      1. Signpost record
        1. Create & update OASIS entry
      2. Report drafted
      3. Dissemination plan drafted
      4. Outreach work completed
        1. Blog post
        2. News coverage – press release
      5. Highlight (progress) Report(s)
      6. Issue Log
      7. Review Risk Log and planning for unforeseen changes
  6. Review Point R3.1:
    1. (After each fieldwork stage:) Is an updated Project Design document required?
  7.  Execution stage: Update Project Design
    1. Research products
      1. Project Design reviewed
    2.  Archive products
      1. Updated Project Design Document
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Consulted with Stakeholders and specialists
  8. Review Point R3.2
    1. Is the site archive complete?
    2. Does assessment merit full analysis or should the project proceed to Dissemination stage?
    3. Is the Updated Project Design appropriate?
  9. Execution stage: Desk-based research
    1. Research products
      1. Existing information sources identified (✔)
    2.  Archive products
      1. Updated NMR & HER records
      2. Completed assessment report
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Signposting record
  10. Execution stage: Analysis
    1. Research products
      1. Analysis and understanding completed
        1. Archive accessed
        2. Analysis undertaken
        3. Report production
        4. Images produced/sourced
    2.  Archive products
      1. Research Archive created
      2. Report on analysis
      3. Updated HER entries
      4. Updated NMR entries
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Highlight Report circulated
      2. Signposting record (Oasis?) updated to show progress
  11. Review Point R3.3
    1. Analysis complete in line with project objectives?
    2. Has analysis delivered an enhanced understanding?
    3. Site Archive and Research Archive ready for deposition?
    4. Dissemination plan approved?
    5. Report text prepared in line with dissemination plan?
  12. Archive Deposition
    1. Research products
      1. Data archive deposited with archive holder
      2. Paper archive deposited
      3. Artefact & ecofact archive deposited with archive holder
    2.  Archive products
      1. Agreements with archive holder filed
    3. Dissemination products
      1. Signposting record updated to record location of archive
  13. Review Point R3.4
    1. Ok to close project?
    2. Can recommendations for future research be made?
  14. Closure
    1. Research products
      1. All Tasks & Products completed?
      2. Aims & Objectives met?
    2.  Archive products
      1. Lessons learned & recommendations for future evaluation, where applicable, documented in End-of-Project Report
      2. Project Archive contains products of Execution Stages & Project Documents
    3. Dissemination products
      1. All Stakeholders informed project is ending

This is quite a list! No wonder my head is spinning!!

But now I have copied it out, I am able to say that I like long lists – nicely, logically set out. If I work through each of these items – breaking them down into smaller steps when required – working towards the production of a project archive, the dig report should almost write itself. It is, simply speaking, just a polished, edited version of the dig archive, tailored for busy professional archaeologists. Likewise for the public presentation.

Baby steps 🙂

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