Desk-based Assessment

A desk-based assessment is designed to determine the archaeological potential of a site through a synthesis of known archaeological and historical material. An assessment is usually required when there is little current knowledge for a proposal site but where evidence for the environs indicates that archaeological remains may exist. An assessment might also apply where existing information for a site is out of date. The desk-based work is usually accompanied by a site inspection or 'walkover survey'.


An assessment typically examines a range of archaeological, historical, cartographical and pictorial data sets covering both the site and a sufficient radius around it to understand the site and its landscape context. A site walkover survey is undertaken to assess any recorded heritage assets as well as any physical indications of previously unknown archaeological or upstanding remains. An assessment of the landscape context of the site is carried out during the site inspection. The survey also identifies any heritage assets whose setting could be impacted by the proposals and which may require separate analysis, either as part of a settings assessment or heritage impact assessment.


The results of the assessment are used to consider the extent and degree to which the site might be affected by the development proposal so that any further investigative work might be targeted effectively and any eventual mitigation strategies can be developed.