What does an archaeological watching brief involve?


Do you need an archaeological watching brief to fulfil a planning condition? If you own or live near a site of archaeological interest, you might be asked to employ an archaeological contractor to carry out a watching brief for you.

Whether you’re simply a homeowner or a large-scale developer, you could still end-up with a planning condition which stipulates the need for a watching brief to be carried out on the proposed groundworks. The size of the project makes no difference, it’s purely down to whether your proposed development is located within or near an area of potential archaeological interest.

An archaeological watching brief might be attached as a condition to your planning permission because there is a known record of physical archaeological remains within the proposed site, or perhaps because there is the potential to find items or deposits of archaeological interest due to the nearby presence of archaeological remains. Perhaps your site is in or near a historic town or city, maybe you are located in a rural environment with visible earthworks on or near your land.

If you live in a listed building the local planning authority regularly attach archaeological conditions to the listed building consent, necessitating the monitoring of renovation work and associated groundworks. For example, Oakford Archaeology was commissioned to undertake a watching brief at Heath Cottage, a grade II Listed property in Bridford, Devon, because the owners wanted to renovate the building. This involved an Oakford archaeologist visiting the site and cleaning and recording the earlier floor levels as they were exposed.

Archaeological Watching Brief Cobbles Devon

Essential works being carried out on a scheduled site or site of historic significance might also lead to a watching brief requirement. One example of this was the monitoring of geotechnical boreholes at Rougemont Gardens, Exeter, Devon. An Oakford archaeologist monitored the boreholes and recorded the sequences of deposits.

Archaeological Watching Brief, Rougemont Castle, Exeter, Devon

An archaeological watching brief might require just one visit or it might be several, depending on the scale of the project. If it’s a small project you might want to make sure all of your groundworks happen on the same day to save time and money!

If you have any queries about archaeological watching briefs or have been asked to commission an archaeological contractor for your project, we’re happy to provide a free quote or answer any questions you might have.