The Stansted Framework Project

Framework Archaeology, 2009

Data copyright © Framework Archaeology unless otherwise stated

This work is licensed under the ADS Terms of Use and Access.
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Framework Archaeology (2009) The Stansted Framework Project [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]


To help fulfil the aim of developing a historical narrative as the site was excavated, field staff, were provided with access to a on-site computer network, database and geographic information systems which aimed to provide as complete a digital model of the excavations as possible. This on-site data capture then helped to inform decision-making and interpretation throughout post-excavation analysis and the field data was augmented with the results of specialist analysis.

The results of the project have been published in several formats. The monograph favours an interpretative narrative as the means of presenting an understanding of the humans who lived around Stansted. Detailed description is limited to those areas of the narrative requiring explicit supporting evidence or where the narrative touches on areas of regional or national interest.

Accompanying the monograph and freely downloadable since publication, there is the Framework Free Viewer, a distilled version of the digital archive presented as a Microsoft Windows® installable geographic information system.

For wider access beyond Microsoft desktop operating systems and for long term support the Archaeological Data Service have kindly provided a web GIS via the Interactive Maps page. While both applications aim to help readers to ask their own questions of the data recovered from the excavations, it is possible that the answers will come only from the full digital archive. All data provided via the ADS for the Stansted Project is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, California 94305, USA

GIS Files

1: To get started with the geographic information system (GIS) you will need to download the core GIS files:

  • Excavations and Evaluations
  • Stansted
  • Features
  • AllFinds
  • AllSamples

2: Unzip the shapefiles

3: Load the shapefiles into your preferred GIS software so that Excavations and Evaluations are at the bottom of the display order. Then add the files in the following sequence: Stansted, Features, AllFinds and AllSamples. Take the opportunity to choose some suitable colours. You may wish to begin with the visibility of AllFinds and AllSamples set to hidden.

4: To display an archaeological phase plan, use your preferred GIS software and using the Features layer display each value in Landscape field. Each value consists of a three-figure numeric code and a phase name, for example: '315 Middle Bronze Age'. Choose to display phases and colours as your fancy dictates.

5: To display a distribution plot of all prehistoric pottery take the following steps:

  • make the AllFinds layer visible.
  • filter the AllFinds shapefile using the value 'Prehistoric pottery' in the field SPECIALISM.

6: To display a distribution plot of all Deverel-Rimbury pottery in Bronze Age features take the following steps:

  • undo any previous filter on the AllFinds shapefile and make it visible.
  • filter the AllFinds shape file using the value 'Prehistoric Pottery Deverel-Rimbury 1600BC to 1000BC' in the field POT_DATE.
  • filter the AllFinds shape file again using the values between 300 and 330 in the field LANDNO. (These are the numeric segments of the values in the landscape field and, since they are numeric they can be used to easily select multiple phases with the use of greater than and less than operators).

In ESRI ArcGIS this would be a definition query that read:

"POT_DATE" = 'Prehistoric Pottery Deverel-Rimbury 1600BC to 1000BC' AND "LANDNO" >= 300 AND "LANDNO" <= 330

You will now be looking at all Deverel-Rimbury sherds deposited in features constructed during the Bronze Age.

7: The AllFinds shape file is by default displayed using points. If more advanced display techniques are desired you can take the AllFinds.dbf file, aggregate the data within it in the desired manner and join it back to either Features or Stansted shape files to produce proportional or graduated symbols, and charts. For example:

  • take AllFinds.dbf and select from it all records with the value 'Fired Clay' in the field MATERIAL.
  • Aggregate these using the values in the field FEATUREGIS to produce a single total weight of Fired Clay for each archaeological feature.
  • This summary can then be joined back to the Features shape file using the Field FEATUREGIS and the total weight displayed as required.

This produces one symbol for each excavated feature. If required, the same technique can be employed to produce a symbol for each excavated slot through a feature. To do this you would aggregate the chosen data using the field VENTIONGIS and join to the Stansted shape file on the field VENTIONGIS.

As a final word explaining the basics of the GIS data, all unexcavated features have the value 0 in the Context_ID field.

A detailed data dictionary for the geographic information system is to be found in the files GISFileDescriptions.csv and ShapeFileFields.csv.

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