Archaeological Monitoring and Recording

Archaeological monitoring and recording, traditionally referred to as a Watching Brief, is the most common type of archaeological work carried out in mitigation of permitted development in areas of known or suspected archaeological potential.


The purpose is to monitor development groundworks such as foundation trenches, service trenches and significant landscaping work, record any archaeological remains and recover any artefacts that might be present on a site. A report, commensurate with the results, is produced following completion of all fieldwork. Monitoring and recording programmes are perhaps more common on smaller development sites but they can also apply to large building projects and pipeline schemes.


We have carried out hundreds of watching briefs over the years and we are engaged in a number of active monitoring programmes in any given week. As a consequence, we have developed a highly effective set of procedures to ensure that each project runs smoothly. In practical terms, this often means looking after any archaeological issues efficiently and effectively to ensure that any disruptions to the development programme are kept to a minimum. We do this because we appreciate that development is costly and milestones need to be met.


For our clients and their groundwork team, we have produced a set of FAQs which serves as a guide through the monitoring process. This is the result of many years of experience working in partnership with builders and it has proved very useful in breaking down some of the myths of an archaeologist’s role on site and fostering a productive working relationship.


If you are required to carry out an archaeological monitoring and recording programme as a condition of planning permission, we would welcome the opportunity to guide you through what this might mean for your site and how we can help.