Historic England NRHE Excavation Index

Historic England, 1998 (updated 2011)

Data copyright © Historic England unless otherwise stated

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Resource identifiers

  • ADS Collection: 304
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The Excavation Index (EI) is a guide to the archaeological excavations and interventions carried out in England since the earliest days of scientific archaeology, and an index to the location of the excavation archives and finds. It is part of the National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE), England's heritage archive. This archive contains over 12,000,000 items covering the archaeology and architecture of England including air photographs, historic and modern photographs, digital indices, and documents.

Compiled & updated since 1978, the EI currently comprises some 76,000 records of archaeological events, the majority encompassing excavations, evaluations & watching briefs since 1960, geophysical surveys and fieldwork funded by Historic England & its predecessors. The recent addition to the Index of such activities as desk-based assessments and fieldwalking reflects the close partnership developed with the Archaeological Investigations Project of Bournemouth University under the auspices of the OASIS Project funded by the Research Support Libraries Program.

1908 Avebury Excavations

Right: 1908 Excavations at Avebury from NRHE Publications Photographic Library © Historic England NRHE. Just one of over 60,000 archaeology projects recorded in the Excavation Index for England.

The EI is updated with information from a wide range of published and non-published sources. Trawling of relevant journals, reports and monographs is augmented by direct data exchange with a number of contractors and curators across the country.

The EI fields supplied for each event to the Archaeology Data Service form a subset of the full computerised record held at the National Record of the Historic Environment and comprise:

  • Event UID (the NRHE's own identification number)
  • Event Name
  • Description
  • Start Date and End Date
  • County/District/Parish (uses administrative boundaries prior to the introduction of unitary authorities from 1996 onwards)
  • National Grid Reference
  • Paper Archive - Location
  • Paper Archive - Contents
  • Artefacts - Location
  • Auspices
  • Associated Identifier
  • Bibliographic Reference
  • Period (uses terms listed in Recording England's Past: a Data Standard for the Extended National Archaeological Record RCHME/ACAO 1993)
  • Type (uses terms listed in Thesaurus of Monument Types: a Standard for Use in Archaeological and Architectural Records RCHME/EH 1995)

Fields are completed where information is available. Where RCHME is cited as archive location this generally refers to a microfilm copy of the archive or an archived report.

Fuller information from the EI for all events is available from NRHE Public Services. This includes the name and role of key personnel and funding agencies. The EI acts in part as a national index to more detailed local records held by Sites and Monuments Records, Urban Archaeological Databases and others, and further information on such events will also be held by the relevant local curators.

The data set currently made available through the ADS remains under development. Period and Type information is not always displayed, and the total record has yet to be loaded. Please contact NRHE Public Services if you would like a more recent version of the database checked.

For the PPG16 period (post-1990), the computerised record combines data collected by both the EI and AIP , brought together through the aforementioned OASIS initiative. The information on the computerised EI has been compiled from a variety of sources, some of which have not been verified, and no claim is made for the EI as a completely definitive record. Certain details on the Index may also have been superseded, for example where the locations of archives or finds have changed recently. We are therefore keen to receive feedback and corrections in respect of the information within the EI.

Please contact NRHE Public Services Section if you have any queries about the EI records or require further information. All data provided from the Excavation Index is supplied for internal purposes or private research, and the user is not entitled to copy or reproduce information originating from the NRHE in the public domain without the written permission of the copyright holder.