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What is research archaeology?


Investigating and recording archaeology to add to our store of knowledge, either about the past itself, or about materials and techniques, or about how sites change over time is often referred to as research archaeology.

Modern archaeologists tend to treat all their work as if it were research, whatever its funding source or primary motivation. However we are using the label Research Archaeology here for projects which are not developer-funded or prompted by imminent threat to archaeological sites or deposits.

Who is it conducted by?

Most, but not all, research archaeology is conducted by staff or students of academic institutions. Funding may come from research trusts and endowments, or from the national Research Councils – usually, for archaeology, the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), although the scientific Research Councils also sponsor some research into materials and dating methods. View other sources of funding.

Historic Scotland funding

Some Research Archaeology is funded by Historic Scotland. We are particularly supportive of research into the processes by which archaeological sites and deposits change over time.  

We also support research into techniques for analysing materials, surveying and recording and dating sites. On a wider scale, we support research into ways of ensuring that the historic environment is taken account of in decision-making, by developing effective ways of presenting information for planners and others.




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