The dark valley: notes from the ADS library

Tim Evans

Over a year and a half ago I wrote a short blog on the mechanics of the ADS grey literature library, going in to (what I considered) fascinating detail on the technical considerations of archiving the reports we host online. In the intervening period since that blog I’ve spent a large portion of my time working on the Roman Rural Settlement of Britain project, and an array of what we term special collections (for example  Stones of Greece, Origins of Nottingham and Parks and Gardens). Colleagues such as Jenny O’Brien and Georgie Field have primarily been responsible for  transferring reports into the library and as such, some distance has crept into the relationship between myself and the library. Like an old friend to whom one hasn’t spoken for sometime, one starts to wonder as to whether the links and shared experiences will persevere.

Continue reading The dark valley: notes from the ADS library

ADS a Recommended Repository for Nature Publishing Group

ADS are very pleased to announce that we are now an officially recommended repository for Nature Publishing Group’s open access data journal Scientific Data. ADS joins approximately 80 other data repositories, representing research data from across the entire scientific spectrum. ADS has been approved by Scientific Data as providing stable archiving and long-term preservation of archaeology data.


Scientific Data offers a new article type, the ‘Data Descriptor’, which has been specifically designed to publish peer-reviewed research data in an accessible way, so as to facilitate its interpretation and reuse. Publishing Data Descriptors enables data produces and curators to gain appropriate credit for their work, whilst also promoting reproducible research.  The main goals of this journal are tightly aligned with that of ADS, focusing on making the data publicly accessible and encouraging re-use.

data descriptor

By becoming a recommended repository for Scientific Data, we are now not only a recommended repository for archaeological data accompanying articles published by the Nature Publishing group but researchers now have the opportunity to deposit archaeological data to ADS, whilst submitting an Data Descriptor to Scientific Data.

All depositors depositing with ADS and intending to publish in Scientific Data or another Nature Publishing Group journal must choose to disseminate the data they are depositing with us under a CC-BY liecence. For more information contact the ADS at




We have a winner! Digital Data Reuse Award 2015

Internet Archaeology and the Archaeology Data Service are pleased to announce the winner of our 2015 Digital Data Reuse Award.

The award was instigated to recognise the outstanding work being carried out through the re-use of digital data and raise awareness of the research potential of data re-use in archaeology and beyond.

The winner  receives the opportunity to publish free of charge in Internet Archaeology, and all the finalists will receive a certificate and one of our coveted trowel-shaped USB sticks.

Find out about the winner, the finalists and the highly commended entries below!
Continue reading We have a winner! Digital Data Reuse Award 2015

Rural Settlement of Roman Britain

Tim Evans

In June 2013 I wrote the first in what I planned to be a two part blog describing my work on the Rural Settlement of Roman Britain Project (henceforth RRS).  A little later than planned, here it is.

Drawing of a columnar Roman milestone found c.1772 on the Fosse way two miles from Leicester, bearing the name Ratae (the unofficial logo for the project Web Mapping). Image from the Society of Antiquaries of London Catalogue of Drawings and Museum Objects doi:10.5284/1000409


The RRS project arose from a two-stage  pilot project undertaken by Cotswold Archaeology and funded by English Heritage (now Historic England), Assessing The Research Potential of Grey Literature in the study of Roman England. This project identified the large levels of grey literature, the colloquial term for unpublished reports produced primarily through the planning process containing significant information about the Roman period.

The RRS project is being undertaken by the University of Reading and Cotswold Archaeology and funded by a grant from the Leverhulme Trust with additional backing from Historic England. The project has built on the pilot by reviewing all sources – traditional published journals/monographs and grey literature – for the excavated evidence for the rural settlement of Roman Britain with the over-arching aim to inform a comprehensive reassessment of the countryside of Roman Britain.
Continue reading Rural Settlement of Roman Britain

Digital Data Re-use Award 2015

Internet Archaeology and the Archaeology Data Service have teamed up to provide an Award that recognises the outstanding work being carried out through the re-use of digital data.

The Digital Data Re-use Award offers people the chance to promote their work and win the opportunity to publish, free of charge, in the premier open access journal Internet Archaeology.

This Award is intended to:
  • acknowledge the wide range of research carried out that re-uses data hosted at the ADS
  • raise awareness of the research potential of data re-use in archaeology and beyond
  • raise the winners profiles amongst peers
  • assist the winners career development

The top 3 entries will receive one of our coveted 1GB trowel-shaped USB sticks, a certificate of accomplishment, and will be invited to publish their case studies in the ADS blog SoundBytes.
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Archiving Ipswich

Re-posted from Day of Archaeology

Two years after posting about my work on the Silbury Hill digital archive, in ‘AN ADS DAY OF ARCHAEOLOGY’, and I’m still busy working as a Digital Archivist with the ADS!

For the past few months, I have been working on the Ipswich Backlog Excavation Archive, deposited by Suffolk County Council, which covers 34 sites, excavated between 1974 and 1990.


To give a quick summary of the work so far, the data first needed to be accessioned into our systems which involved all of the usual checks for viruses, removing spaces from file names, sorting the data into 34 separate collections and sifting out duplicates etc.  The archive packages were then created which involved migrating the files to their preservation and dissemination formats and creating file-level metadata using DROID.  The different representations of the files were linked together using object ids in our database and all of the archiving processes were documented before the coverage and location metadata were added to the individual site collections.

Though time consuming, due to the quantity of data, this process was fairly simple as most of the file names were created consistently and contained the site code.  Those that didn’t have descriptive file names could be found in the site database and sorted according to the information there.

The next job was to create the interfaces; again, this was fairly simple for the individual sites as they were made using a template which retrieves the relevant information from our database allowing the pages to be consistent and easily updateable.

The Ipswich Backlog Excavation Archive called for a more innovative approach, however, in order to allow the users greater flexibility with regards to searching, so the depositors requested a map interface as well as a way to query information from their core database.  The map interface was the most complex part of the process and involved a steep learning curve for me as it involved applications, software and code that I had not previously used such as JavaScript, OpenLayers, GeoServer and QGIS.  The resulting map allows the user to view the features excavated on the 34 sites and retrieve information such as feature type and period as well as linking through to the project archive for that site.

OpenLayers map of Ipswich excavation sites.

So, as to what I’m up to today…

The next, and final step, is to create the page that queries the database.  For the past couple of weeks I have been sorting the data from the core database into a form that will fit into the ADS object tables, cleaning and consolidating period, monument and subject terms and, where possible, matching them to recognised thesauri such as the English Heritage Monument Type Thesaurus.

Today will be a continuation of that process and hopefully, by the end of the day, all of the information required by the query pages will be added to our database tables so that I can begin to build that part of the interface next week.  If all goes to plan, the user should be able to view specific files based on searches by period, monument/feature type, find type, context, site location etc. with more specialist information, such as pottery identification, being available directly from the core database tables which will be available for download in their entirety.  Fingers crossed that it does all go to plan!

So, that’s my Day of Archaeology 2015, keep a look out for ADS announcements regarding the release of the Ipswich Backlog Excavation Archive sometime over the next few weeks and check out the posts from my ADS colleagues Jo Gilham and Georgie Field!

UPDATE: Ipswich Excavation Archive has now been released! All sites can be explored here!

Internet Archaeology is awarded the Directory of Open Access Journals Seal

InternDOAJ Seal logoet Archaeology is delighted to announce that we have been awarded the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) Seal.

The DOAJ is an online directory that indexes and provides access to high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.

The  DOAJ Seal is awarded to a journal that fulfills a set of criteria related to accessibility, openness, discoverability, reuse and author rights. It acts as a signal to readers and authors that the journal has generous use and reuse terms, author rights and adheres to the highest level of ‘openness’

Internet Archaeology has been awarded the DOAJ Seal because it:

  • has an archival and preservation arrangement in place with the Archaeology Data Service
  • provides permanent DOI identifiers in the published content
  • provides article level metadata to DOAJ
  • embeds machine-readable CC licensing information in article level metadata
  • allows reuse and remixing of content in accordance with a CC BY license
  • has a deposit policy registered in SHERPA/RoMEO
  • allows authors to hold copyright without restriction.

Internet Archaeology is currently the only open access archaeology journal to be awarded the Seal, sitting alongside 88 other journals from right across the academic spectrum. It is wonderful to have been recognised for our work in this area by the DOAJ.

OUT NOW: Dendrochronological Data in Archaeology

For a great deal of human history, wood has been an important construction material and remnants of ancient wood are preserved to this day in archaeological sites on land and under water, as well as in buildings and mobile heritage.

Old School Cottage, Bayton, Worcestershire: Section of joist with 132 rings (in a distance of 8 cm), 1378-1509 (Vernacular Architecture 27, p. 91).
Old School Cottage, Bayton, Worcestershire: Section of joist with 132 rings (in a distance of 8 cm), 1378-1509 (Vernacular Architecture 27, p. 91).

Dendrochronology is an important tool in cultural-heritage research  to determine the exact calendar age of ancient wood. Such age determinations contribute significantly to assessments of the meaning of archaeological and architectural structures in terms of their chronological and cultural context.
Continue reading OUT NOW: Dendrochronological Data in Archaeology

Coming Soon: Dendrochronological Data in Archaeology Guide to Good Practice!

DCCD_HiResADS and the Digital Collaboratory for Cultural Dendrochronology are pleased to announce that a new Guide to Good Practice on Dendrochronological Data in Archaeology will be available soon.

The guide will ariadneprovide good-practice guidance for the collection and archive of dendrochronological data in the context of archaeological and historical research. The guide is aimed at both those creating dendrochronological datasets, and those that commission dendrochronological analyses. This guide will not cover the methods involved in dendrochronological analyses, but focuses on how to describe and archive the digital data and metadata involved in these analyses.

The guide will be available soon on the Guides to Good practice website, and it’s release will be announced on the ADS website, so keep a look out for the announcement.

Old School Cottage, Bayton, Worcestershire: Section of joist with 132 rings (in a distance of 8 cm), 1378-1509 (Vernacular Architecture 27, p. 91).
Old School Cottage, Bayton, Worcestershire: Section of joist with 132 rings (in a distance of 8 cm), 1378-1509 (Vernacular Architecture 27, p. 91).

Continue reading Coming Soon: Dendrochronological Data in Archaeology Guide to Good Practice!