Planning and building

Guidance for archaeological work

Archaeological desk-based assessment

An archaeological desk-based assessment should be presented to us for review and approval:

  • before any further evaluation works on the site,
  • as part of the documentation accompanying a planning application
  • alongside reports on any intrusive archaeological investigations which have been requested prior to the determination of a planning application

All work must be undertaken in a professional manner in line with Institute for Field Archaeologist Standard and Guidance.

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Requirements of archaeological desk-based assessments

An archaeological desk-based assessment must address:

  • current land use from a site walkover survey
  • historical land uses including historic map regression
  • aerial photographs (NMR, City of York Council, York City Archives) and Lidar images for green field sites
  • geology, hydrology and hydrogeology of the site, in particular the extent to which the site may contain waterlogged deposits which may be masked by alluvial or colluvial material
  • assessment of how the topography of the site has changed and developed from prehistory to the present day
  • the locations and nature of listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments within 500 meters (or an agreed buffer) of the site plus gazetteer from a full Historic Environment Record (HER) search
  • the locations and nature of archaeological interventions (excavations, evaluations, watching briefs etc) on the site and within 500m (or an agreed buffer) of the site plus gazetteer from a full HER search
  • review of published documentary evidence and previous interpretations of the history and archaeology of the site
  • review of any existing ground investigation data, borehole records, etc
  • deposit model for the site
  • plans showing the site location and the proposed site layout

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The OASIS project

Our 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.

Information should be drawn together to produce a report and deposit model which:

  • describes and assesses the evidence
  • assesses the potential impacts development might have on the site
  • assesses the requirement for a pre-determination archaeological evaluation (a programme of intrusive investigations on the site) to answer specific questions on the character, date and importance of archaeological deposits which might survive on the site
  • suggests any measures which may be required to mitigate the impact of development on archaeological features and deposits preserved on this site

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Also see


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