Planning and building

Guidance for archaeological work

Archaeological recording of York City Walls

An archaeological record of sections of York City Walls will be needed in order to inform schemes of conservation, alteration, repair or management to provide a permanent pre-commencement.

York City Walls will normally be recorded to comply with a Level 2 record as set out by Historic England; occasionally an enhanced Level 3 record may be requested:

  • Level 2 – a descriptive record. Both exterior and interior will be viewed, described and photographed - the record will present conclusions regarding the building’s development and use; a plan and other drawings may be made but the drawn record will normally not be comprehensive
  • Level 3 – an analytical record. Includes an introductory description, account of origins, development and use - an account of evidence, drawn and photographic records, draws on readily accessible documentary sources but will not include a detailed documentary search

The record must include a Structure from motion (SfM) rectified data-set and the contractor may also be requested to provide a terrestrial laser-scan record as part of the recording process.

The contractor will be required to:

  • prepare a Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) application for this recording exercise
  • produce a Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) for this recording exercise

We no longer ask for a photographic print to be routinely produced. A request will be specifically made for 35 millimeter black and white prints, only if deemed necessary.

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The contractor will prepare a report that must include the following:

  • location plan, grid ref and plan of site showing position of survey elements
  • a full description of and an interpretation of the section of wall, setting it where appropriate into their archaeological, architectural, historical and research context using information from archival sources and the Historic Environment Record (HER)
  • survey drawings and digital point cloud data:
    • hand Drawn measured drawings (where specifically requested) records
    • photographic records (minimum 24 megapixels using Digital SLR, file format jpg for presentation, TIFF for archive)
    • fM rectified elevations and plans
    • and terrestrial laser-scan record data to illustrate and record the structure’s appearance and condition and to support an historical and structural analysis - the scale of the drawings derived from a survey must be appropriate to the location, typically 1:100 or 1:50 for plans, 1:50 or 1:20 for sections
  • plan showing location of all archived photographs
  • plans and sections if available
  • selected images from the photographic record*

*The photographic record should include:

  • general views of the structure in its wider setting or landscape
  • detailed close-up coverage of the structure
  • any dates or other inscriptions which contribute to an understanding of the structure.
  • where relevant, overall appearance of each room, internal close-up detail, structural and decorative (windows/doors etc) and any building contents which have a significant bearing on the buildings history

Where a drawn record is required:

  • cross-sections through principal structural unit
  • scale drawings recording form and location of significant structural detail
  • drawings to show the form/profile of any architectural decoration
  • an index to the archive as thumbnail images in the final report and information on how the archive can be accessed

Historic Environment Record (HER) supports the 'Online Access to Index of Archaeological Investigations' (OASIS) project; the archaeological contractor must complete the online OASIS form - further information may be required by the City of York Archaeologist in certain cases.

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The long term care of the archive must be provided for. Digital archive must be prepared for deposition with and curation by City of York Historic Environment Record (HER) and Archaeology Data Services (ADS). ADS will charge a fee and have strict metadata requirements. The fee for this should be costed appropriately into the project.

All images, data, drawn, digital and other primary archival record material must also be deposited with us.

An estimate of the cost of archiving digital images and reports using the ADS Easy service can be obtained from the ADS website: https:/

Larger, long running projects may need bespoke costing from the ADS Collections Development Manager (email:

The buildings archaeologist should follow the ADS’ polices and requirements for metadata accompanying digital files.

A Portable Document Format (PDF) copy of the report and JPEG images should also be sent to City Of York HER. Once a report has become a public document by forming part of a planning application, we will place the information on our website and make the information available through the Heritage Gateway website.

All work must be carried out in compliance with the codes of practice of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and must follow the CIfA Standard and Guidance for the Archaeological Investigation and Recording of Standing Buildings or Structures, revised 2016.

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Also see


City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA