Tudor map of London, Braun and Hogenberg, 1572
Planning law requires that before a developer is allowed to build on a site
they have to have planning consent from the local authority. If they need
to dig below ground they have to have an archaeological assessment done to
ensure that no important remains will be destroyed.
Who does the work?
Archaeological firms do this work for the developer. The first stage is
called a desk-based assessment. Archaeologists do research to find out
whether any archaeological remains are likely to be present and if so, how
large or important they might be. The developers can use this information
to plan their work. The local authority, sometimes advised by English
Heritage, then decides whether there will need to be an excavation before
building work can take place.
Where is the information from?
Archaeologists use several sources of information. They use the Sites and
Monuments Record to find out how the land was used in the past, using such
evidence as historic maps and documents. They also look for data from
previous excavations or nearby developments to find out whether archaeology
has already been recorded in the area. Archaeologists can then work out
what kind of remains might have survived, and what effect the planned
development would have on them.