Digital Archives in Archaeology

Want clear guidance on digital archives for everyone in archaeology? Join our #DigDigital Beta Group and help us draft it.

Digital data and sustainable archives

The question of how to handle digital archive data has been a hot topic in archaeology for years – and now we’re doing something about it.

Historic England has commissioned the DigVentures team, working with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, to develop up-to-date guidance for everyone working with digital data in archaeological projects. The guidance will be published as part of the Archaeological Archives Forum’s ongoing series of practice guides for archives management aimed at practitioners. CIfA’s Standards and Guidance will be updated to ensure consistency between practice guidance and regulation.

Why now?

In May 2018, DCMS endorsed Historic England’s proposals to respond to the Mendoza Review of Museums. One such proposal was to develop guidance… ‘that relieves museums of the expectation that they should attempt to curate digital material from archaeological projects in favour of their deposition in a Trusted Digital Repository that will guarantee the preservation and accessibility of digital material’.

To support this recommendation, HE recognise the need to provide clear guidance for practitioners that works alongside industry standards and is supported across the sector. The Digital Archives in Archaeology project has been initiated by the Archaeological Archives Forum to provide such guidance and encourage the consistent and robust management of digital data in archaeology.

Barney Sloane, Director of Research at Historic England, said “The Digital Archives in Archaeology project is a timely approach to ensuring that clear and practical guidance is available to all practitioners. We are entering a new era, where a ‘digital-first’ approach to all aspects of archaeological archive creation is becoming a reality. This project will help define what that means for those working with archaeological data every day – from data creators to museum curators”.

What will the project do?

Digital technologies have transformed the way archaeologists work, providing innovative research tools, improving how we investigate sites and giving new life to knowledge about the past. As with all parts of an archaeological archive, digital data contributes to the long-term preservation of sites by providing key information which can be accessed by researchers and the public alike. How that information can be used in the future is an important consideration and, as new technologies become the norm, we have to be sure that our archive processes adapt to incorporate innovative methods, tools and data.

The ambition of this project is to:

  • understand how digital data is currently used and managed
  • signpost how different digital data should be collected and stored
  • highlight relevant technical guidance and relate that to industry standards
  • provide step-by-step guidance for practitioners at all stages of an archaeological project
  • explain how born digital data can form part of a sustainable archaeological archive

Can you help?

The use of digital data within archaeological research is extensive and varied, and over the next few weeks the project team will be asking practitioners to get involved and share their experiences. We want to understand the different ways that archaeologists collect digital data and manage it throughout the project life cycle. If you would like to contribute to the project, we are looking for a cross-section of practitioners to join our #DigDigital Beta group. The role of the Beta group will be to respond to short project surveys and provide ongoing feedback as we draft and shape guidance documents.

If you want to get involved in our Beta Group, please just complete our quick survey and sign up!



Can you help?

We are hoping to gather 100 people who represent a cross section of the archaeological sector in the UK to join our #DigDigital Beta group. We will ask you to respond to surveys, read drafts and contribute to ongoing discussions about digital archives in archaeology. There will be opportunities to respond to project surveys and discussions as an organisation, but the role of the group is to provide a sense of the everyday experience of people working in archaeology.

So, you are here as an individual but we will make sure that any contribution you make is anonymous – names will not be mentioned in any material which is circulated or published to audiences outside the project team. Your personal details will be used only to communicate with you directly and  we will not retain personal information or use it beyond the scope of the project.

If you want to get involved in our #DigDigital Beta Group, please complete this short survey and we’ll get in touch!

Our Beta Group is now closed – if you are interested in contributing to the project, please email


Dig Digital Survey #1

The Starter for Ten – November 2018

We’re conducting our first survey and your input would be much appreciated! As our Starter For Ten, this brief survey will help identify key areas for us to focus on, and give a general feel for how people currently work with and manage digital data in archaeology.

It is not meant to be exhaustive and there will be areas which are not covered. Remember this is just the first survey and there will be more to come! The survey will be running from 10th – 30th November – just click the link below and get responding…

Take Survey #1

Don’t forget, if you want to keep up to date with the project and contribute more widely to the project aims, we have a #DigDigital Beta Group which you can join.If you want to get involved in our Beta Group, please sign up here!

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