Category Archives: ADS Projects

The future for England’s Rock Art

Several users have been in touch concerned over the future of England’s Rock Art website. Suffice to say that users should rest easy that no data is being lost, and public access to data is being retained.

Here’s the important background as to why this is happening:

England’s Rock Art website was originally launched in Summer 2008, as the culmination of a Historic England (then English Heritage project) to catalogue carvings in the Northumberland region. Since then it has been added to, principally with records from the Beckensall archive that were previously stored with Newcastle University. The website itself is actually a fairly complex application, with an underlying spatial database and Java framework that allows the user to interrogate the database.

Since its launch, the ADS have continued to perform a wide range of updates, patches and migrations on the application to ensure it’s longevity. These have involved major rebuilds in 2011, 2015, and 2018. Despite this additional work, undertaken with no additional funding, some features have begun to creak and latterly break (such as the map interface). More recently, the framework as a whole has become outdated, being deemed at risk for the last 18 months, and is now at a point where a major rebuild/application migration is required. This is not only to retain functionality, but also for security.

We take security very seriously here, and as such and in consultation with our IT services have agreed that the application is now at its end of life, and sadly needs to be replaced. We don’t take such decisions lightly. We’re aware from access stats that Rock Art has on average 30 unique visits every month and has a core interest group that needs to access the data, so we’re currently taking steps to make sure the data in the Rock Art database is maintained and made publicly accessible in perpetuity.

What’s happening?

The data itself (i.e. the text and images used in the database) is being turned into a standard ADS public archive. This means the individual records (CSV) images (JPG/TIF) and VRML will be available to access download. This includes all the later additions such as the Beckensall archive.

This means, for example, that all the information on the page for an ERA record such as this one, will still be there, just not in the website format and perhaps not as aesthetically pleasing.

We’re hoping to have this done as soon as possible, and when ready the ERA URL will resolve to the new archive.

Further ahead, there are some advantages to bringing the ERA data into a standard archive. The metadata can be incorporated within our Collections Management System (CMS) and Object Management System (OMS), the latter of which is forming the basis of our plans to centralise and implement cross-searching of Objects (i.e. files), and also to benefit from technical developments for external sharing such as IIIF. Overall, the data will be better curated, access widened by bringing it ‘in-house’.

In addition, we have plans to devote staff time to build on the raw data to develop the archive into an ADS Special Collection which replicates the database and map-based experiences we know a lot of our users enjoy for example Roman Amphora or Roman Rural Settlement of Britain). This is being done as a staff training exercise, so timescale for completion is less certain but I would hope we have an Advanced interface ready in 2021.

We hope all our users will understand that this work is being undertaken as a practical response to a tricky problem that impacts all public ICT applications at some point. In this case, and because the resource was already held by ADS we’re happy the data are secure and will be made publicly accessible as soon as possible, and that where we can (and remember the ADS has no core funding) we will continue to enhance access to the data so that the legacy of the original project is continued.

Summer Internship With the ADS: Heritage Open Days

The following is a blog written by Chloe Rushworth, who has recently completed a 4-week Voluntary Placement with the ADS. Chloe has been working with the Curatorial and Technical Team to investigate some new approaches to how we interact with data within the Archive. Below, she gives a run through on her huge contribution to creating a ‘Curated Collection’ collating data that relates to sites participating in Heritage Open Days. The aims of this project are for this collection to work as an educational tool, to both increase awareness and knowledge of the archaeological and historical importance of the sites that are taking part in the Heritage Open Days, and to show how the Archive can add to the experience of the Heritage Open Days themselves.

If you want to see the results, the Collection is now live. Over to Chloe!

Continue reading Summer Internship With the ADS: Heritage Open Days

Our Tweeted Times for #FestivalOfArchaeology

As part of the CBA’s #FestivalOfArchaeology in 2020, I spent a light-hearted day revisiting some of Internet Archaeology’s and ADS’s milestones. I also asked those whose paths intersected and crossed ours to join in and share memories.

We’ve made a compilation for your enjoyment.

Continue reading Our Tweeted Times for #FestivalOfArchaeology
Cartoon showing the way to a data repository.

Guidelines for Depositors, a reintroduction

The first half of 2020 has been an interesting one for sure. We’ve been working from home with our partners, children, and kettles as coworkers and we’ve begun to look at how information is presented on our website.

You may or may not have come to our site to find out guidance on depositing data. In that quest, you may have found a document/guide that was spread across several webpages, with no images, an over eager table of contents, and a reminder it was written in 2015. Well, you’ll be happy to know, that it’s gotten a bit of a face lift.

So without further ado, allow me to reintroduce yourself to our Guidelines for Depositors.

Continue reading Guidelines for Depositors, a reintroduction

The Redesign Continues

Hello all, and thank you very much for your feedback to our website redesign survey, they have been really helpful in the redesigning of the website. We are happy to now say its beginning to be built! However, if you would like to take part in the survey there is still time to provide your input.

Redesign Survey

Our work is currently concentrating on the menu to make the new design accessible, mobile-friendly and intuitive. An early peek of the new clean and sleek design can be seen below.

Image of the proposed new website header.

I hope that you are as excited about the design as we are! We are hoping that the new design will be completed soon providing you, our users, with a full preview and the opportunity to comment on the design before we launch.

Once again we would like to involve you in this part of the project so keep your eyes peeled for our posts on the design process, social media polls and other opportunities to get involved. And do tell us what you think of the new simpler menu design in the comments below.

ADS Homepage Redesign

Here at the Archaeology Data Service, we believe that the way in which we connect to the past truly matters, and as a result, we are redesigning our website’s homepage.  For the first stage of this, we will be carrying out a survey into how you, the user, use the website and if there are any elements you would like improved or added. 

Tell us your opinions via this survey.

The second stage will involve having a sneak peek at the designs and offering your opinion on them in terms of what you like and dislike.

So get ready for your opportunity to be involved in redesigning the face of our business, for we believe every story is important. If you have any questions we are always very willing to answer.

Example ADS new homepage design

The ADS Investigates: #MythBustingMay

Black and white illustration of the profile of Sherlock Holmes smoking a pipe.

Throughout the month of May, the ADS has been investigating and debunking some of the myths and misconceptions that surround archives, digital preservation and the Archaeology Data Service.

You may have seen us using the Twitter hashtag #MythBustingMay to highlight some of these common misunderstandings, signpost useful resources and evoke the occasional PDF-related public outcry. The project has been well received and we hope has provided a useful insight into digital preservation best practice and the services the ADS provides.

As the month draws to a close and we hang up our deer-stalkers, we’ve decided to free ourselves of the shackles of 140 characters and compile a blog to discuss some of the key issues and ideas the project has highlighted.

Image of documents on shelves with the ADS logo and the text 'busted!'
Continue reading The ADS Investigates: #MythBustingMay

ARIADNEplus Community Needs survey: Data and Services

The ARIADNEplus project invites archaeological researchers and data managers to participate in an online survey on community needs regarding data sharing and access, new services and tools, and related training needs.

ARIADNEplus is a project funded by the European Commission under the Horizon 2020 Programme. It aims to integrate archaeological datasets in a digital infrastructure so that researchers can use them with services and tools, which will also be provided by the project.

We kindly invite you to share your experience and views on the survey topics. The survey includes matrix table questions, therefore using a desktop or notebook (not a tablet or mobile) is recommended.

The survey can be accessed here.

Thank you very much for your valuable contribution!

ARIADNE logo

ADS all over the world

Many moons ago, the ADS decided that it was going to try and increase its social media presence.  To this end, we started tweeting, and posting, and doing all sorts of social media like things.  From this, we began experimenting with the world of hashtags and found ourselves interacting with #Archive30.  It was through this trend of talking about a different thing from our archive and work that we came to the day of outreach.

Now outreach can mean something different to each person.  According to Google’s dictionary it means ‘an organization’s involvement with or influence in the community, especially in the context of religion or social welfare.’  So we were at conundrum.  How would we, an organization dedicated to the preservation of digital data going to show our many followers (who I’m sure were waiting with bated breath) that we left our offices every once in a while?

Well, if there is one thing that I enjoy, it’s a good old visualization of information.  And that is how the lovely map below was made.

Continue reading ADS all over the world

CH-CH-CH-CH-Changes: Improvements to our ADS-Easy and Oasis Images Services

Cover from David Bowie's album 'Changes'. Highlighting changes and improvements to the ADS-easy and OASIS Images services.

Over the last few months, ADS beavers have been busy in the background making much needed updated and improvements to our electronic submissions systems. Over the last couple of years, we have listened to your comments, digested the constructive criticism in your emails, bought a job lot of earplugs for those exasperated phone calls and tried our best to address them. While we cannot remove all those requirements for metadata, or reduce the costs of deposition, what we have tried to improve is the process of deposition to make it as streamlined and seamless as possible.

Continue reading CH-CH-CH-CH-Changes: Improvements to our ADS-Easy and Oasis Images Services