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Funding Scottish archaeology

Sources of funding are determined by the reason behind archaeological fieldwork. The 3 main categories of archaeological fieldwork are; development-led, rescue and research.

Categories of funding

Development-led Archaeology
Investigating and recording archaeology in advance of its destruction by planned development.

Rescue Archaeology
Investigating and recording archaeology in advance of its unavoidable destruction by natural processes or by human agencies not regarded as “developers”.

Research Archaeology
Investigating and recording archaeology for the primary purpose of adding to our store of knowledge, either about the past itself, or about materials and techniques, or about how sites change over time.

Work following fieldwork, usually called “post-excavation” – such as analysis of results, publication and archiving – is normally funded by whoever funded the fieldwork.

Professional ethics apply whether the archaeologist is self-funded, grant-aided or contracted. Even amateur archaeologists, a long-established and very important community within Scotland and the UK more widely, aim to work to professional standards. See, for example, the Code of Conduct of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists.

All archaeology should be conducted to gain as much useful information as possible, to challenge, test and enhance our understanding of period, regional or thematic research agendas. The research context matters across the board. It is imperative that all archaeologists communicate the results of their work, both to colleagues within the discipline and to the wider public.

Historic Scotland funding

Through our Archaeology Programme, most of our funding goes to rescue and research archaeology. We also invest strongly in publishing and disseminating the results of projects we support. Only in special circumstances do we support developer-led archaeology.

View further information on the Historic Scotland Archaeology Funding Programme

Priorities for Historic Scotland Archaeology funding

We are currently reviewing our priorities and procedures through public consultation. We will revise this section in due course.

Historic Scotland will continue to fund a wide variety of projects, ranging from site-specific investigations to research into processes of change. The potential of newly proposed projects to contribute to existing and developing agendas will increasingly be a primary consideration for funding decisions.

Contact us

Archaeology Strategy Team
Heritage Management Directorate
Historic Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Tel: +44 131 668 8811

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