Frequently asked questions

Who is the county archaeologist?

Local authorities in Wales do not employ a county archaeologist as standard practice but instead maintain a service level agreement with the regional Welsh Archaeological Trusts. In North-West Wales this service is discharged by the Gwynedd Archaeological Planning Service.

Snowdonia National Park Authority (SNPA) employs an archaeologist who fulfils a curatorial function within the SNPA .


What are a written scheme of investigation, specification and project design?

A written scheme of investigation is a term sometimes used in a planning context to refer to a defined programme of archaeological work. The term is not used other than in the context of some planning conditions.

A specification or project design is a document prepared by an archaeological contractor and agreed with the regional archaeological curator on behalf of the local planning authority. It sets out a schedule of work in sufficient detail for it to be quantifiable, implemented and monitored. It is essential that the archaeological curator has agreed the proposals so that they have been accepted as 'fit for purpose'.

Specifications are often prepared in response to a brief which is usually produced by the archaeological curator and can be used by a developer / commissioning body to obtain tenders from more than one archaeological contractor.


Do you deal with historic and listed buildings?

Conservation issues are dealt with by the Local Planning Authority Conservation Officers of Anglesey, Conwy, Gwynedd and Snowdonia National Park. However, where archaeological investigation and historic building recording are required Gwynedd Archaeological Planning Service advises in the same capacity as for the below ground archaeological resource.

We advise on the recording of buildings and structures dating from all periods, whether grade I listed medieval townhouses or undesignated World War II pill boxes. The level of record required is informed by the significance of the structure and the level of impact of the development as set out in English Heritage guidance.


Do you deal with scheduled monuments?

We will comment on proposals that directly or indirectly affect Scheduled Ancient Monuments or their settings. Applications for scheduled Monument Consent are decided by Cadw.


How is the scope of work determined? Will a watching brief be sufficient?

A watching brief is required in only a small number of cases (less than 25% of our recommendations).

An evidence based approach is applied to all development proposals. Where the nature or extent of the resource is in some doubt or the potential for archaeological discoveries is considered high a programme of investigation will be required. This may involve remote techniques such as geophysical survey or intrusive techniques such as evaluation trenching.

The aim of assessment and evaluation work is to establish the nature, character and extent of any archaeological remains or deposits affected by development and devise appropriate mitigation.

Where the potential for archaeological discoveries is considered to be significant but generally low, a watching brief may be required.


What benefit is gained from undertaking archaeological work?

There is significant public interest in archaeological discoveries and work undertaken as part of the development process can be used as an opportunity for positive public engagement. Developers can publicize any discoveries through open days, talks, leaflets or on-line content and can use these media to promote any environmental benefits (such as better understanding of the past) made possible by the development.

When a programme of archaeological investigation, excavation and recording is completed the work is formally reported on and the records deposited in the public domain. This allows professional archaeologists, members of local societies, heritage managers, commercial developers, academic researchers, students and school children or local residents to access the findings of the work for their own interest.

The purpose of archaeological investigation is to help manage change in the historic environment in an informed way. The archaeological resource, whether above ground buildings and structures or below ground deposits, is finite. It is a significant contributor to local character and sense of place. The resources of the historic environment, like those of the natural environment, are for the benefit of everyone in society, today and in the future, and need to be treated with care and expertise.


Can I undertake the archaeological work myself?

All archaeological work undertaken within a development context uses professionally qualified archaeological staff and not students or volunteers.

If you have been asked to undertake a general photographic survey, guidance is available here.



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Gwynedd Archaeological Trust is certified to ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 14001:2015

To view a copy of the ISO 9001:2015 certificate, please click here.
To view a copy of the ISO 14001:2015 certificate, please click here.