FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

If you can't find the answer to your query here the ADS will be happy to answer any of your questions. Find out how to contact us here.

Using the ADS

Yes, it is free to use the ADS resources, however, the use of data is subject to the licence conditions clearly identified within each data collection. If no licence is identified the data falls under the standard ADS Terms of Use and Access.

The ADS holdings are split between three separate search tools. You should use Archsearch for searching for short records about a monument or historic environment event from the UK. You should use ADS Library if you are looking for a report, book or article about the historic environment of Britain and Ireland. You should use the ADS Archives search if you are looking for raw data. The ADS archives can contain data from around the world. Find out more about each search facility below.

Archsearch is an integrated online catalogue indexing over 1.3 million metadata records, including ADS collections and metadata harvested from UK historic environment inventories. Archsearch records briefly describe archaeological events, monuments or sites, and may link to the resource the information was harvested from. Most Archsearch records do not have additional data associated with them. Archsearch is best used for searching for archaeological information related to a particular geographic location.

The ADS Archives are the data-rich collections professionally archived by the ADS for the long term. These data rich collections can range from large-scale academic research projects with thousands of complex data files such as CAD, GIS and VR, to small-scale commercial archives with just a few image files. The data rich collections can also include journals, monographs and grey literature. Archives are best used when you are searching for a particular type of archaeological data.

The ADS Library is a bibliographic catalogue that brings together material from the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography (BIAB), archaeological publishers such as Oxbow, and reports, journals and documents from the ADS Archives. The records in the ADS Library provide bibliographic information for books, journals and reports that have British and Irish archaeological content, in some cases the record may also link to a downloadable file but not in all cases. The ADS Library is best used when you are searching for written information about a particular topic.

The information and metadata held for the records within each of the search facilities are very different as they provide different levels of information and were created for very different purposes to adhere to different schema. As a result the ADS have provided 3 simple search interfaces rather than a complex search facility that would need to cope with returning results from dramatically different databases.

You can search for reports using the ADS Library by choosing "Report" in the "Publication Type" facet on the left of the screen. If you are only interested in downloadable reports you can further filter your search using the "Available from ADS" filter in the "Access Type" facet.

You can search for data in our Archive here using the simple keyword search tool that allows a user to type a keyword into the search box in the top-left of the screen. You can also use the facets on the left to narrow your keyword search or browse our archives. Once you have found an archive you are interested in, click on the blue title to enter the collection. Once inside the collection, the data can be found on the downloads page which can be accessed from the archive menu on the left of the screen.

The use of data held by the ADS is subject to the use and access licence conditions clearly identified within each data collection. If no licence is identified, the data falls under the standard ADS Terms of Use and Access, which allow you to use and adapt data for historic environment research purposes (including as part of the commercial sector), as long as you acknowledge the source and copyright of the data you use and do not sell the data.

To cite information held within Archsearch you should use the "Cite this record URL" identified at the bottom of each record. All ADS Archives and reports have DOIs associated with them. It is recommended that you always use a DOI when available.

Sample Citation for an Archsearch Record:

Historic England (2018) "Abbey Fields Abbeymead" in Historic England NRHE Excavation Index for England [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]. Accessible at: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archsearch/record?titleId=1879872

Sample Citation for an ADS Archive:

Richards, J. D., Hadley, D. (2016) Archaeological Evaluation of the Anglo-Saxon and Viking site at Torksey, Lincolnshire [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor] https://doi.org/10.5284/1018222.

The majority of our data collections are supplied to us by depositors who licence the ADS to distribute and preserve data on their behalf, therefore the data depositors retain copyright of the data we disseminate. Within every ADS Archive the copyright holder is clearly identified on the left-hand side of the screen. Copyright within material in the ADS Library is held by the publisher or authors identified within the record. Copyright of Archsearch Records are held by the record provider clearly identified in the record. In all other instances, copyright is retained by The University of York on behalf of the ADS.

A DOI is a Digital Object Identifier which can be used to consistently and accurately reference digital objects. The DOIs provide a way for the ADS resources to be cited in a similar fashion to traditional scholarly materials. Each DOI has metadata associated with it, such as subject, location (URL), publisher, creator, etc. While this metadata can change the actual DOI will never change. This allows for a digital object's DOI to be permanent while the actual location of the archive can change. Citing a DOI is much more robust and permanent than citing a URL.

Nearly all of our archives have a Downloads page which can be accessed from the archive menu on the left of the screen. To download data, click on the Downloads page and then navigate within this page to the file that you want. Once you have found the file you are interested in, click on the file to see a preview or directly download the file by right clicking and choosing the "Save as.." option to download the file to your device.

Web search engines, such as Google, are extremely powerful and can index the ADS at file level. Therefore a browser search might be able to find a specific combination of words within a file that our ADS search can not, because it indexes data in a different way. This is a great benefit to finding data, but it can sometimes mean a user can find a file out of context and find it difficult to find the file within the archive. To find out what archive your file is from it is useful to look at the URL of the file as this may often contain a hint to the archive name.

For example http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/calleva_reading_2018/downloads.cfm begins with the standard ADS URL for an archive http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/ followed by calleva_reading_2018/, the archive in question here is the Late Iron Age Calleva: The Pre-Conquest Occupation at Silchester Insula IX Archive by the University of Reading. If the URL does not help you find the correct archive, you can email the ADS Helpdesk with the URL of the file and we will be able to tell you which archive it is from.

Archsearch Records briefly describe archaeological events, monuments or sites. They do not have associated data available to download. The record may, however, link to the resource the information was harvested from, such as Historic England or a Historic Environment Record, or it may link to an associated ADS Archive or publication in the ADS Library. If there are no links in the record it is because the original record provided to ADS does not have an associated link.

Archsearch records are harvested from various data providers such as, Historic England or a Historic Environment Record. If the data in Archsearch is incorrect you should contact the original data supplier who will be able to correct the original record. The ADS cannot correct records in Archsearch without permission from the original data supplier.

ADS Library

The ADS Library is a bibliographic catalogue that brings together material from the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography (BIAB), archaeological publishers such as Oxbow, and reports, journals and documents from the ADS Archives. The records in the ADS Library provide bibliographic information for books, journals and reports that have British and Irish archaeological content. In some cases, the record may also link to a downloadable file but not in all cases. The ADS Library is best used when you are searching for written information about a particular topic.

The records in the ADS Library come from a number of different sources, including the ADS Archives, the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography and archaeological publishers such as Oxbow. You can see where the record originated in the Source field in every record.

The records in the ADS Library have come from a number of sources and were compiled over a number of years, therefore, there can sometimes be inaccuracies in the data. If you have found a record with incorrect information please email the ADS Helpdesk.

The ADS Library contains records from a number of sources including the ADS Archives, the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography and archaeological publishers such as Oxbow. Only records that are associated with an ADS archive have a direct download available.

The ADS Library attempts to match authors with existing people in the ADS Library database, this allows individuals to have their own page of publications and users to browse by author. However, the matching process can occasionally mismatch people, especially if they have similar or the same names. If this has happened to your publications, please let us know and we will correct the records.

When you deposit data for long-term preservation with the ADS, all appropriate textual material, such as articles or monographs, will be added to the ADS Library. Find out more about depositing data here or contact us here.

You can restrict your search to reports by choosing "Report" in the "Publication Type" facet on the left of the screen in the ADS Library

You can search for records where downloadable files are immediately available by choosing "Available from ADS" in the "Access Type" facet on the left of the screen in the ADS Library.

The records in the ADS Library have come from a number of sources and were compiled over a number of years, therefore, there can sometimes be inaccuracies in the data. If you have found a record with incorrect information please email the ADS Helpdesk.

The records in the ADS Library have come from a number of sources, therefore it is possible that a single publication was recorded in several of the sources. When creating the ADS Library an attempt was made to match these duplicates together and merge the records. However, if there was an inconsistency between the records, such as how the title was spelt for example, the records may not have been matched, resulting in two or more records for the same publication. If you have found a duplicate record please email the ADS Helpdesk.

The time it takes for an OASIS record to enter the ADS Library can vary depending on a number of factors. Once you have submitted your completed OASIS record, together with an attached report, it is validated by the local Historic Environment Record or Historic England. The time this takes can differ depending on the region you are working in. Once this validation has taken place the report is released to ADS where it enters our preservation process. Once the report enters the ADS preservation process, it can take up to a month before it is accessible via the ADS Library. A further delay can occur if an ADS deposit licence has not been signed by the organisation submitting the report.

The 'Source' field indicates where the record orginated from. For example, a 'Source' of 'The British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography (BIAB)' means the record originates from the British and Irish Archaeological Bibliography before it was transferred to the ADS Library. A full list of ADS Library Sources can be found here.

Registration

Currently you only need to register for ADS-easy, our online deposit tool, as depositing data requires you to provide us with contact details for invoicing and licencing purposes. All other ADS resources are openly available and do not require you to to register to use them.

Currently you only need to login to ADS-easy our online data deposit tool. You can login to ADS-easy here using your username and password. If you have forgotton your password you can request a new one here.

If you are sure that your details are correct then, in the first instance, try clearing your browser cache and history. This will remove details of any existing or active login details that have been saved in your browser and which may be causing problems. It may also be useful to remove any saved passwords within your browser, as occasionally these can become out of sync with ADS-easy. You can also request a new password here. If you continue to have problems contact the ADS-easy Helpdesk.

You require a user name and password to login to ADS-easy. Your user name is automatically set as the email address you first registered your ADS account with. If you have updated your email address in your Profile, it will NOT automatically update your user name. To update your username please contact the ADS-easy Helpdesk

Once logged in to your ADS-easy account, you can edit your personal details by clicking on the ACCOUNT tab in the submenu.

If you have forgotten your password you can request a new password here. If you need to change your password then simply login to ADS-easy using your current details and go to the acounts section via the ADS-easy menu.

If you wish to delete your ADS-easy account please contact us and we will remove you from our database.

Technical Support

A file can be downloaded from an archive under the Downloads tab. How to download the file depends on the file type.

PDF -- Clicking on the ‘PDF’ text (a hyperlink) will open the PDF in whatever PDF viewer is used by your browser. The PDF can then be downloaded by either using the relevant command in the viewer, or returning to the Downloads page and right-clicking on the link and selecting 'Save As...'.

CSV -- Clicking on the CSV hyperlink will open the CSV in a customised highslide viewer. The CSV can then be downloaded by right-clicking on the file and selecting 'Save As...' or by clicking on the DOWNLOAD hyperlink at the bottom of the viewer.

JPG -- Clicking on the JPG hyperlink will open the JPG in a customised highslide viewer. The JPG can then be downloaded by right-clicking on the file and selecting 'Save As...' or by clicking on the DOWNLOAD hyperlink at the bottom of the viewer.

PNG -- Clicking on the PNG hyperlink will open the PNG in a customised highslide viewer. The PNG can then be downloaded by right-clicking on the file and selecting 'Save As...' or by clicking on the DOWNLOAD hyperlink at the bottom of the viewer

DWG/DXF/ZIP/XML/XLSX -- When clicking on these links a pop-up will automatically open.

A csv file is a plain text file containing tabular values separated with a comma. A csv file can be opened in any text editing, spreadsheet or database program, however the easiest way of viewing a csv file is by using a spreadsheet program such as Microsoft Office Excel or Google Docs. These programs will automatically open the csv file in the right format.

Please note: there are often problems with opening files in Excel and the way it predicts what the data should look like. For example some grid references have leading zeros e.g. “056756”. This is fine when exported, but when opening Excel often defaults this string to a number, and thus renders “56756”. To work around this, we recommend that users perhaps open in a text editor first (Textpad, Notepad etc) to view the data, and then ‘import’ into Excel. The import option allows you to set the data type, thus preserving leading zeroes as a character string. .

Most web browsers use a built-in PDF viewer, as well as the facility to add other relevant plugins (e.g Adobe Reader) to perform this task. If an ADS PDF does not open in your browser it is most probably due to an incompatibility in the viewer/plugin being used by that browser. A simple solution is to download the file (see above) to your local machine and open it in your usual PDF reader.

The most common reason for a downloaded PDF to not open is that the machine does not have the required software to open this format. In this instance, it would be recommended to install a PDF reader, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader DC, which can be downloaded for free from their website, or Sumatra PDF available from this website.

A zip file is a folder of multiple files that have been compressed to allow a single download, or a single file that has been compressed for a quicker download time. To be able to view data within a zip file it should be ‘unzipped’. In Windows XP or newer, Mac OS X, and Ubuntu Linux, you can double-click on the zip file and it will open in a new window. In Windows and Linux it is also possible to right-click on the zip file and selection 'Extract All...' or 'Extract Here'. If this does not work please check your operating system has the correct software.

The ADS restricts individual file downloads to a 100Mb limit. Where dissemination files are larger than this, they are compressed and made available as multi-volume ZIP files (also known as split ZIP files or archives). Splitting a larger file over multiple ZIP volumes allows users to incrementally download data and avoid single prolonged downloads.

In order to unzip multi-volume ZIP files, all parts must be downloaded (e.g. myfile.zip.001 through to myfile.zip.005). The archive can then be decompressed (unzipped) by opening the first file in the sequence. Many operating systems do not natively support multi-volume ZIP files and it may be necessary to download additional software to open these files. The following free applications can be used:

Windows Edge does not like opening PDFs in its web browser window, therefore it is recommend that you right click on the file and save it to your device before opening it with a PDF viewer.

A shapefile (shp) stores a collection of geographic features, such as locations and site boundaries. These files can be opened with the help of a geographic analysis application, such as ESRI ArcView or QGIS.

The ADS services are considered 'at risk' Tuesdays 4am - 9am and Thursdays 7am - 9am. These are the times when necessary maintenance work may be carried out on the SuperJANET network used by the University of York. The ADS will endeavour to also use these periods for planned maintenance of ADS services. Any significant planned downtime will be announced in advance, but very brief periods of downtime or low-risk work during these times may not.

If you expereince an error message when using one of the ADS services please try clearing your web browser cache, and/or opening the page in a different browser. This website explains how to clear your cache for different web browsers. If the error message persists please contact the ADS Helpdesk.

Depositing Data

If you are based in the UK or are funded from the UK and your data relates to the Historic Environment, then the ADS is likely to be a suitable repository for your data. For more detailed guidance on this please refer to our Collections Policy.

The ADS has developed several workflows to ease the ingestion of data into our archive and provide our users with cost-effective solutions to depositing data. Find out which option best suits your dataset here.

ADS-easy is an online tool for depositing small datasets. It should be used if your dataset is composed of less than 300 files of common data formats. Find out more about the data formats that can be deposited via ADS-easy in the FAQ below.

You can deposit the following data types using ADS-easy: text, images, spreadsheets, databases, GIS, CAD files and geophysics data (up to 10ha in area size), as long as you deposit these data types in the ADS's accepted data formats. and each file is less than 10GB in file size. You cannot deposit Photogrammetry data, 3D data, such as Laser Scanning or Virtual Reality data, via ADS-easy. To deposit these data types contact us.

OASIS is an online data capture form through which historic environment practitioners can provide information about their investigations to local Historic Environment Records (HERs) and National Heritage Bodies (such as Historic England and Historic Environment Scotland). OASIS also allows the upload of reports for the relevant bodies to access and validate. Following the validation process these reports are preserved for the long term by the ADS and made publicly accessible in the ADS Library.

The ADS will accept data in the formats listed in this table.

The ADS has extensive Guidelines for Depositors on how to prepare you data for deposit and the metadata that the ADS requires.

Access to data held in the ADS archive is free, therefore to cover the ongoing costs of preservation and curation of the data, some means of cost recovery is essential. The ADS therefore imposes a charge for depositing data based on a complex Charging Policy.

As the data deposited with ADS can vary widely in its size, complexity and purpose, costs of archiving also varies widely to reflect these differences. However, the ADS has developed a Costing Calculator which can provide costings for the following:

  • Estimates for inclusion in tenders for small scale commercial work
  • Estimates for inclusion in small grant applications
  • Estimates for privately/self-funded work
  • If you have a larger archive, for example from a large or long-running excavation or research project, a journal back run, specialist file types, or the requirement of a specialist interface to your data, you will need to contact us for a 'bespoke' cost providing us with the following information:

  • Project Name
  • Brief description of project or dataset
  • Contact details of Primary Depositor
  • An estimate of the number of files per data format to be deposited and, if possible, an estimate of file size
  • Name of funding body (if applicable)
  • Estimate of expected deposit date
  • If you require a map or query interface to help users navigate data
  • Any other information you think would help us understand your dataset
  • Use the calculator to plan ahead and build in the estimated cost of archiving with the ADS in to your tender, project design or grant application.

  • Estimates for inclusion in tenders for commercial work
  • Estimates for inclusion in small to medium grant applications
  • Estimates for privately/self-funded work
  • The calculator will work for up to 500 files and 500ha of resistivity/magnetometry data.
  • Once you have submitted data in ADS-easy, the system will calculate the final cost which can be downloaded as a pdf for your files. If your project requires a definitive, fixed costing for deposition, prior to deposition (especially for AHRC, ERC, and NERC funding applications), you should discuss your requirements with the Collections Development Manager.

    The purpose of ADS-easy is to make it easier to deposit small to medium-sized archives. It also allows us to more quickly ingest and import material into our preservation systems. This cost saving is passed on to you, the depositor. The Costing Calculator demonstrates these cost savings by providing two figures: ‘a traditional methods’ figure and an ‘ADS-easy submission figure – currently a flat rate 20% reduction. The relationship between bespoke costings and calculator costings is explained in our Charging Policy.

    The start-up fee covers a proportion of the cost of Management and Administration, Ingest and Dissemination costs as outlined in our Charging Policy (see section 3). This equates to about half a day of staff time plus overheads at our current rates. The file preservation costs then ‘scale up’ for file numbers and complexity added into a basic structure.

    The simple answer is complexity. While some files are relatively 'easy' to manage, others require more complicated and time consuming methods in order to guarantee their preservation in perpetuity. The reason for this is that it takes a lot more time to check, document and preserve a shapefile (with its several constituent parts) over an image or .csv file. Experience has taught us that the only circumstance where we can really benefit from economies of scale is when dealing with image files and that too is taken into consideration within the charging model - a small discount is given per file as the numbers increase.

    We will raise an invoice at the point your collection is released or, where a collection is embargoed, at the point we send you a link to review the collection page. In the case of submitted archives that are subsequently abandoned, we will consider these in the same light as ‘withdrawn archives’ and reserve the right to charge for work already conducted as per section 4.1 of our Charging Policy.

    Digital data is encoded and requires both software and hardware to decode it. As a result, it is fragile and very susceptible to obsolescence and, due to the complexity and diversity of electronic data, it requires extensive curation and a high level of associated metadata to enable accessibility, discovery, and successful re-use in the future. Accredited archives like the ADS follow established procedures to ensure the preservation of fragile digital data in the long term. Find out more about why you should preserve your data here.

    The ADS endeavours to undertake long-term preservation working within a framework conforming to the ISO 14721:2012 specification of a reference model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS) as defined by a recommendation of the Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems. OAIS preservation strategies favour migration in various forms rather than other digital preservation techniques like emulation or technology preservation. The ADS uses the following migration techniques to preserve data:

  • Normalisation: where data is migrated to widely supported open international standards such as ASCII (text) or TIFF (images) on ingest in to the archive.
  • Version migration: where data is migrated through successive versions of a format. For example, AutoCAD Release 9 (AC1004) has been migrated to AutoCAD Release 2010/11/12 (AC1024). Version migration may be the only option for preserving proprietary formats that don’t migrate to open standards. This is only practical where the software using proprietary formats is widely used within a community and accessible (affordable) to an archive. It is not practical for an archive to maintain a suite of limited use proprietary software.
  • Format migration: where as well as normalisation data may be migrated to other formats for a number of reasons including dissemination. For example, a spatial dataset may be preserved as GML 3.2 but disseminated as an ESRI Shapefile. ESRI software sees wide usage amongst the archaeological community.
  • Refreshment: migration between media which leave data (the bit stream) totally unchanged. For example, from one system to another.

  • You can read in more detail about how ADS preserves data here.

    Metadata is a set of data or documentation that describes and gives information about other data. Metadata is used both by a human and a computer to understand what is inside a file. Every file we archive has to have metadata accompanying it to tell us what type of file it is, how to decode it, and what it contains.

    Metadata is one of the most important factors in long-term digital preservation. If a file does not have good metadata to tell a user what it is, and when, how, and why it was created, the file may not be readable in the future, therefore preserving it is a pointless endeavour. For this reason, the ADS asks all data depositors to provide a significant amount of file- and collection-level metadata for both discovery and preservation purposes. Good discovery metadata, such as subject or locational information, helps make your data findable amongst all the other ADS datasets. Preservation metadata, such as file format version and software used, helps ensure that the data you deposit can be decoded in the future. However, for this to work effectively, the metadata has to be implemented accurately and in a standard format; therefore the ADS has standard metadata templates that it requires all data depositors to use. You can read about data lost through lack of documentation and metadata in The Newham Archive: A Case Study of the Loss of Digital Data.

    This is most likley a result of the Costing Calculator allowing a user to identify the difference between PDF and PDF/A which are costed differently. However, once files are uploaded to the current ADS-easy system it uses the file extension (.pdf) to calculate the cost. As both PDF and PDF/A use the same file extension, it is difficult for the ADS-easy system, to identify the correct version during the upload phase and apply the reduced cost for PDF/A. We are working on updating the system to better identify PDF/A. However, when the files are formerly accessioned into the ADS archive after submission, we always use an advanced file characterisation software to correctly identify all submitted files, which allows us to charge the correct amount when we invoice. If you want to discuss this matter further, please contact the Collections Development Manager.

    When you have completed the collection-level metadata for your archive within ADS-easy you will then be able to upload files. In the first instance, it is worth noting that ADS-easy is best used with up-to-date versions of Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari; so, if you are not using one of these browsers you may experience problems. Please try changing browsers. If you continue to have problems uploading files, then first check that the files are one of our ‘preferred and accepted file formats’. If the file type is not in this list then you will not be able to upload it through ADS-easy. If this is the case then you may be able to convert the file into one of the accepted file formats, or you could contact the ADS-easy Helpdesk for assistance. If the file type is in the list, but you still cannot upload it then please check that you are uploading the file in the correct upload area. If you are still having problems then contact the ADS-easy Helpdesk for assistance.

    The ADS provides a service for Historic Environment Records (HERs) to enter Archsearch and the Heritage Gateway. To find out more about this service please contact the Collections Development Manager.

    Back to main Help page and more FAQs.