This page contains details on current and completed research and development projects, where available links are provided to relevant reports, publications and presentations. For a full list of ADS outputs, please see the separate pages for Publications and Presentations.

Towards a National Collection logo

Unpath'd Waters: Marine and Maritime Collections in the UK

The ADS is playing a significant role in UNPATH, leading the work on aggregation of marine data from all UK state heritage agencies, academic partners, and commercial archaeological contractors, using experience gained in ARIADNE. ADS will also be working with UNPATH partners to develop an ontology and metadata schema for marine data, and we will make sure that it is compatible with ARIADNE’s AO-Cat, to ensure European interoperability. ADS will harvest text and image data, supplying it to those partners leading on natural language processing and image processing for data enhancement, and to the three research project case studies which are at the heart of UNPATH. For datasets that don’t have a designated national repository, ADS will provide long-term hosting and archiving, for such exciting sites as the wreck of the Mary Rose. ADS will supply additional data for the UK’s marine heritage to the current ARIADNE portal, but we also plan to explore re-usage of the portal software and re-use the ARIADNE triplestore to create a marine-focussed instance of the ARIADNE portal. More information about ADS participation can be found here.

Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage logo

Archaeology Audience Network (AAN)

The Archaeology Audience Network is a project that brings together many of the UK’s leading archaeological organisations to build the most accurate picture to date of the audiences that public and community archaeology attracts and engages with in England and make it freely accessible online. With this information in hand, Network partners will work with grassroots community organisations to develop new public and community archaeology activities that reflect the needs and interests of new audiences, deliver training in gathering and using audience data, and produce new best practice guidance on how to collect and apply audience data in future activity.

Funded by the Culture Recovery Fund from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the project is being delivered in partnership between MOLA, The Archaeology Data Service, The Council for British Archaeology, DigVentures, Oxford Archaeology, Wessex Archaeology, and York Archaeological Trust.

Julian Richards is PI for the project, and ADS staff will be involved in the collation, analysis and management of the audience data.

Towards a National Collection logo

Making it FAIR: understanding the lockdown ‘digital divide’ and the implications for the development of UK digital infrastructures

Making it FAIR: understanding the lockdown ‘digital divide’ and the implications for the development of UK digital infrastructures is one of three new COVID-19 digital research projects funded by the Towards a National Collection programme, as part of the (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund and delivered by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). Making it FAIR responds to challenges faced by smaller museums struggling to engage online with audiences during lockdown, and beyond. Through critical evaluation of current practice in microcosm through online workshops, and a technical gap analysis, the project will draw scalable lessons to inform Towards a National Collection’s (TaNC) discovery phase, and AHRC’s infrastructure planning. The project will create a community of practice that will (through sector-wide dissemination) extend beyond the immediate participants to museums across the UK. More Information

Julian Richards is PI for the project, and ADS staff will be involved in many aspects of the project, including helping to create a community of practice and guidance on implementation of the FAIR Principles. Click here for more information on how ADS is implementing the FAIR principles.


Saving European Archaeology from the Digital Dark Age (SEADDA)

COST Action SEADDA (CA18128) is funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union, and is an international community of archaeologists and digital specialists working together to secure the future of archaeological data across Europe and beyond. It is comprised of four working groups focussed on understanding the current state-of-the-art regarding the preservation, dissemination and re-use of archaeological data and developing common understandings around international best practice for the preservation, dissemination and re-use of archaeological data, and establish the field as a priority area for research. SEADDA has over 100 members representing 31 COST countries and four International Partner Countries.

Julian Richards is Action Chair. Holly Wright is Science Communication Manager and Vice-Chair of Working Group 4: Use and Re-Use of Archaeological Data.

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Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Dataset Networking Plus (ARIADNEplus)

The ARIADNEplus project is the extension of the previous ARIADNE Integrating Activity, which successfully integrated archaeological data infrastructures in Europe, indexing in its registry about 2.000.000 datasets. ARIADNEplus will build on the ARIADNE results, extending and supporting the research community that the previous project created and further developing the relationships with key stakeholders such as the most important European archaeological associations, researchers, heritage professionals, national heritage agencies.

The ADS is again acting as Deputy project lead, with particular responsibility for extending and supporting the ARIADNE community, implementing the ARIADNEplus ontology and data infrastructure, and extending it to a broad range of sub-domains. We are also leading a task on good practices in archaeological data management, and providing guidelines and support in repository creation and management, as well as playing a key role in project management and overall quality control.

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Social Sciences and Humanities Open Cloud (SSHOC)

SSHOC is a project funded by the European Union as part of the Horizon 2020 program for research and innovation. While different European research endeavors and infrastructures exist, the purpose of the SSHOC project is to make them converge towards a coherent set of services provided by the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). The EOSC portal aims to gather data, tools and training resources made accessible through a simplified methodology for the benefit of the wider community.

The role of the ADS in SSHOC is to work with the National Gallery to investigate the issues of providing Open Data in Heritage Science and Archaeology. In different European countries there are varying approaches to open data access, reflecting different legal protection systems, sensitivities surrounding site location, and different attitudes to data collection (e.g. metal-detecting) by members of the public (Citizen Science). We will draw upon our experience in the UK and in a range of European projects to provide perspectives from a specific user community.

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European Research Infrastructure for Heritage Science (E-RIHS)

E-RHIS will support research on heritage interpretation, preservation, documentation and management. It will comprise E-RIHS Headquarters and National Hubs, fixed and mobile national infrastructures of recognized excellence, physically accessible collections/archives and virtually accessible heritage data. Both cultural and natural heritage are addressed: collections, buildings, archaeological sites, digital and intangible heritage. E-RIHS will provide state-of-the-art tools and services to crossdisciplinary research communities advancing understanding and preservation of global heritage. It will provide access to a wide range of cutting-edge scientific infrastructure, methodologies, data and tools, training in the use of these tools, public engagement, access to repositories for standardized data storage, analysis and interpretation. E-RIHS will enable the community to advance heritage science and global access to the distributed infrastructures in a coordinated and streamlined way.

The role of ADS in E-RIHS is write the financial data management policy, which includes understanding the types of costing models in use across the heritage science sector, and its relationship with data preservation and dissemination. ADS is also developing data curation policy for heritage science data, as the application of scientific techniques to heritage materials such as radiocarbon dating or isotope analysis is becoming more and more important across the heritage sector.

OASIS logo

HERALD: Historic Environment Research Archives, Links and Data - a new beginning for OASIS

HERALD is the name given to the redevelopment of the OASIS, a data capture form through which archaeological and heritage practitioners can provide information about their investigations to local Historic Environment Records (HERs), Museums and Archives, and National Heritage Bodies. As well as being an information-gathering medium, the OASIS records also allow the practitioner/contractor to upload reports for the HERs to access, and for release in the Library of the Archaeology Data Service (ADS).

Although the OASIS form is widely used, the time is now right for the system to be rebuilt to accommodate a wider range of workflows, facilitate efficient public access to reports, act as a useful tool for museums and archives, and link digital and physical resources together. The redevelopment of the form is a key part of Historic England’s Heritage Information Access Strategy (HIAS), with additional funding from Historic Environment Scotland to support reporting to Archaeology Scotland’s annual summary of fieldwork: Discovery and excavation in Scotland. The new OASIS system will allow Welsh HERs to copy their records and reports into the Library, and it is hoped that the form will also be used for projects within Northern Ireland.

More information on the prject can be found on the HERALD project wiki and the OASIS blog.


ArchAIDE logo


ArchAIDE (ARCHaelogical Automatic Interpretation and Documentation of cEramics) is funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme and aims to create a new system for the automatic recognition of archaeological pottery from excavations around the world. ArchAIDE will develop a new app meant to serve the global practice of archaeology, using the latest automatic image recognition technology to aid in the identification of ceramics. Currently, the characterisation and classification of ceramics is carried out manually, through the expertise of specialists and the use of analogue catalogues held in archives and libraries. The goal of ArchAIDE is to optimise and economise this process, making knowledge accessible wherever archaeologists are working.

ADS involvement has also included contributing to project outreach activities, including:

The main project outputs are being archived by the ADS:



ARIADNE (Advanced Research Infrastructure for Archaeological Dataset Networking) was a project that brought together and integrated existing research data infrastructures so that researchers can use the various distributed datasets and new and powerful technologies as an integral component of the archaeological research methodology. Ariadne enabled trans-national access of researchers to data centres, tools and guidance, and the creation of new Web-based services based on common interfaces to data repositories, availability of reference datasets and usage of innovative technologies. The project was completed in January 2017.

The ADS played an important role as Deputy project lead. We had primary responsibility for working with the archaeological community to develop the Guides to Good Practice, publishing a number of new Guides, and also coordinated transnational access and training. We also helped define the user requirements for the ARIADNE portal and played a key role in Natural Language Processing, as well as leading overall quality control.

The ADS were co-authors in the final project publications:

  • Aloia, N. et al. 2017 Enabling European Archaeological Research: The ARIADNE E-Infrastructure, Internet Archaeology 43.
  • Meghini, C., Scopigno, R., Richards, J.D., Wright, H., Geser, G., Cuy, S., Fihn, J., Fanini, B., Hollander, H., Niccolucci, F., Felicetti, A., Ronzino, P., Nurra, F., Papatheodorou, C., Gavrilis, D., Theodoridou, M., Doerr, M. Tudhope, D., Binding, C. and Vlachidis A. (2017) ARIADNE: A Research Infrastructure for Archaeology. J. Comput. Cult. Herit. 10, 3, Article 18 (August 2017),

The ADS co-authored the following deliverable reports:

Leverhulme logo

The Rural Settlement of Roman Britain

The Rural Settlement of Roman Britain project was a major research project led by the University of Reading, which used traditionally published reports and 'grey literature' reports from developer-funded excavations to provide a comprehensive reassessment of the countryside of Roman Britain. The ADS played an important role as a project partner, providing techincal expertise on database and web mapping, data provision, and latterly ensuring that all digital outputs were preserved.

The outputs of the project have been archived by the ADS:



NEARCH (New scenarios for a community-involved archaeology) was a project funded under the European Union (EU) culture programme. The project ran between 2013 and 2018, and follows on from the EU-supported ACE project, which identified a cultural crisis and a crisis of values and ideas that outlined the agenda of European Modernity and made it a reference for the rest of the world. NEARCH successfully assessed the crisis implications in the fields of Archaeology and Heritage, and proposed new ways of working and interacting. The project also explored the different dimensions of public participation as well as the multi-scalar significance of archaeological heritage intertwined with different processes underway in today's Europe.

The outputs of the project have been archived by the ADS:

Marie Curie Actions logo

ADS 3D Viewer

The ADS 3D Viewer was a two year project funded under the Marie Curie Actions Seventh Framework Programme, and benefited from the collaboration with the Visual Computing Lab in the framework of the ARIADNE European project. The aim of the ADS 3D Viewer project was to develop an interactive 3D web-based working environment for the management and analysis of archaeological data within ADS’s website infrastructure.

ALSF: Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund


The Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) was introduced to provide funds to tackle a wide range of problems in areas affected by aggregates extraction. The ADS undertook an English Heritage backed project to disseminate the ALSF information on the web.


EFCHED: Environmental Factors in the Chronology of Human Evolution and Dispersal

The major objective of the EFCHED programme was to integrate and strengthen UK research in human evolution. The ADS is responsible for the data archiving and dissemination from eleven projects funded under the EFCHED programme.


LoCloud Logo

LoCloud (Local Content in a Europeana Cloud) was a best practice network which began in March 2013, and ran for three years. It was coordinated by the Norsk Kulturrad and was made up of 32 partners across 26 European countries. LoCloud followed directly on from the aforementioned CARARE project and EuropeanaLocal, another recently completed best practice network project, funded under the e-Contentplus programme. It played an important role in ensuring the digital content provided by Europeana's local and regional cultural institutions were represented in Europeana. The intention of LoCloud was to combine the metadata mapping methodology of CARARE with cloud computing technology, making it easier for small to medium sized heritage organisations to make their contents accessible via Europeana. The ADS was involved in most of the project workpackages and will led the work on dissemination and use, contributing content, organising events, and promoting services.



The DADAISM (Digging into Archaeological Data and Image Search Metadata) project brought together researchers from the diverse fields of archaeology, human computer interaction, image processing, image search and retrieval, and text mining to create a rich interactive system to address the problems of researchers finding images relevant to their research. DADAISM worked to transform the way in which archaeologists interact with online image collections. It deployed user-centred design methodologies to create an interactive system that went beyond current systems for working with images, to support archaeologists’ tasks of finding, organising, relating and labeling images, as well as other relevant sources of information, such as grey literature documents.



SENESCHAL (Semantic ENrichment Enabling Sustainability of arCHAeological Links) was an AHRC funded project lead by the University of South Wales Hypermedia Research Unit, which brought the ADS into collaboration with English Heritage, RCAHMS and RCAHMW. The SENESCHAL project built on outcomes and tools from the previous AHRC funded STAR and STELLAR projects, which addressed the lack of vocabulary control (with unique identifiers) hindering the full potential of the resulting Linked Data. Major thesauri act as informal standards, lacked the unique identifiers to allow them to act as the envisaged vocabulary hubs for the Web of Data. SENESCHAL created knowledge exchange, based on enhanced vocabulary services, which makes it easier for data providers to index their data with uniquely identified controlled terminology, and allow vocabulary providers to make their vocabularies available as Linked Data. The completed outputs are now available at Heritage Data.

Impact of the ADS: a study and methods for enhancing sustainability

Funded by JISC and undertaken with Charles Beagrie, this project analysed and surveyed perceptions of the value of digital collections held by the ADS to measure, assess and quantify the economic impact of those collections, to improve their prospects for sustainability. They explored a range of methods and sources, including data from 1996-2011 on the growth of collections and users at ADS and how return on investment grows with the collections. A focus of the project was disseminating the findings to the wider JISC and research data communities.



Funded by JISC, in the SWORD-ARM project we worked with a number of HE institutions (the universities of Southampton, Glasgow and Manchester) to refine and enhance ADS's ingest and charging process by creating a SWORD client to streamline and automate deposit. This strengthened the ADS data management systems and business infrastructure, and delivered real benefits to depositors in terms of their ability to deposit data, create and validate metadata, engage in selection and retention, manage multiple deposits and, crucially, to manage cost estimate and charging processes. SWORD-ARM therefore represents an enhancement to ADS's role as a discipline-based repository, and an embedding of our role in a number of HE institutions. SWORD-ARM significantly improved the ability of ADS to handle increasing volumes of data and to charge directly for deposit. It improved the service offered to our depositors in terms of cost transparency, ease of use and speed of deposit.

Archaeology Britain iPad App

ArchBritApp icon

The Archaeology Britain iPad app was a joint project between The British Library and the ADS. The collaboration attempted to present the archaeology of Britain in an interesting and accessible manner on the iOS platform. Unique and rare content was provided from The British Library archives, while ADS content was included to add context to some of the most significant archaeological sites in Britain. Additional content was kindly provided by external organisations and individuals to hopefully present the archaeology of Britain in a rarely seen perspective. The app is a first attempt at mobile app development for the ADS, and further improvements and extensions, including iPhone and Android versions, may happen in the future.

CARARE: a Europeana partner project


CARARE was a best practice network funded by the European Commission's ICT Policy Support Programme. CARARE brought together heritage agencies and organisations, archaeological museums and research institutions and specialist digital archives from all over Europe to establish a service that will make digital content for Europe's unique archaeological monuments and historic sites interoperable with Europeana. It aimed to add the 3D and Virtual Reality content to Europeana. The ADS had specific responsibility for investigating the issues surrounding the long-term sustainability of the CARARE aggregation service.

ACE: Archaeology in Contemporary Europe

ACE Logo

The ACE network aimed to promote contemporary archaeology at a European level, by emphasising its cultural, scientific, and economic dimensions, including its manifold interest for the wider public. With the acceleration of development, archaeology has become particularly important and challenging. Development poses severe threats to archaeological remains, which are by nature fragile and non-renewable, but can also provide opportunities for increasing knowledge and enhancing sustainable archaeological heritage management for the benefit of all.

The final project outputs including reports and exhibition images have been archived by the ADS:

Keeping Reseach Data Safe

This study investigated the medium to long term costs to Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) of the preservation of research data and developed guidance to HEFCE and institutions on these issues.It has provided an essential methodological foundation on research data costs for the forthcoming HEFCE-sponsored feasibility study for a UK Research Data Service. It will also assist HEIs and funding bodies wishing to establish strategies and TRAC costings for long-term data management and archiving

ADS+: Fedora implementation at the ADS


ADS+ was an AHRC funded project under the Digital Equipment and Database (DEDEFI) programme, which aimed to increase the sustainability of the ADS, by implementing Fedora (Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture). The project was completed in March 2011.

STELLAR Project and STAR Project


STELLAR was a collaboration between the ADS and co-investigators at the University of Glamorgan (now University of South Wales) and English Heritage, to enhance the discoverability, accessibility, impact and sustainability of ADS datasets and STAR project outcomes (services and data resources) by enhancing the interoperability between resources using the latest integration technologies and development of semantic search facilities and associated user interfaces. STELLAR built on outcomes and tools from the previous AHRC funded STAR project, which in its turn extended semantic search techniques initially developed through the EPSRC funded FACET project, a collaboration with the Science Museum.

TAG: Transatlantic Archaeology Gateway


The primary aim of the TAG project was to develop tools for transatlantic cross-searching and semantic interoperability between ADS and Digital Antiquity in the United States. This project, jointly funded by JISC and the NEH, investigated cross-searching and semantic linking between archives held at the ADS, Arizona State University and Digital Antiquity. It was completed in 2011.

DARIAH: Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities


The mission of DARIAH is to enhance and support digitally-enabled research across the humanities and arts. It aims to develop and maintain an infrastructure in support of ICT-based research practices, through the creation of a technical demonstrator based on the ARENA project, called ARENA 2, but with an enhanced web services architecture. The project began in October 2008 and was completed in October 2010.

GLADE: Grey Literature - Access Dissemination and Enhancement

Between 2009 and early 2010, the GLADE project sought to explore the potential options and possibilities for accessing the backlog of archaeological grey literature reports produced since the introduction of PPG16 a vast resource of reports from small to medium scale developer-led archaeological investigations produced annually in the UK. The project report includes results of research, interviews and surveys about the holdings of grey literature in the UK, and common methods of discovery and reasons for reuse of the reports. Download the GLADE report.

RECAP RescuE of Completed Archaeological Projects

Funded by English Heritage and running between 2003 and 2009, the RECAP project archived a number of completed projects from the last decade, some of international importance, which have created significant amounts of digital information.

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Archaeotools: Natural Language Processing and Faceted Classification

Between September 2007 and September 2009 the ADS and the Natural Language Processing Research Group at the University of Sheffield worked on the Archaeotools project funded under the e-Science Research Grants Scheme which itself was a collaboration between three major funding bodies, the AHRC, the EPSRC and the JISC.

VENUS: Virtual ExploratioN of Underwater Sites


The VENUS project aimed to develop scientific methodologies and deliver technological tools for the virtual exploration of deep underwater archaeology sites. Funded by the European Commission, completed in 2009.

CIE Demonstrator, funded by the Common Information Environment

Accessible until January 2007, now no longer available.

Big Data: Preservation and Management Strategies for Exceptionally Large Data Formats

oasis Logo

OASIS: Online AccesS to the Index of archaeological investigationS

Phase 1 funded by RSLP complete, current phase funded by English Heritage and Historic Scotland, for completion in 2006.

Making the LEAP

Linking electronic archives and publications. The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) under the ICT Strategy Programme.


The Historic Environment Portal lets users search many databases at once including ArchSearch, CANMORE, COFLEIN, EH, Excavation Index, OGAR, Portable Antiquities Scheme and SCRAN. Completed 2005.

CREE: Contextual Resource Evaluation Environment

A project arising from the JISC Portals investigations into users.

ARENA: Archaeological Records of Europe Network Access Project

Funded by the EC (Culture 2000), completed in 2005.

PATOIS: Publications and Archives in Teaching with Online Information Sources

Funded by JISC (5/99), completed in October 2003.

Making IT Happen: proving the common information environment,

Funded by CIE, completed July.

Digital Archives for Scottish Archaeology

Funded by Historic Scotland, completed 2002.

Mapping Information Resources

Funded by HEIRNET, completed 2000.

DAPPER (Digital Archiving Pilot Project: Excavation Records)

Funded by English Heritage, completed 1999.

Strategies for Digital Data: Findings and recommendations from Digital Data in Archaeology: A Survey of User Needs

Various funders, completed 1999.


This project sought to unite the archaeology journal holdings of over 20 UK university, museum and private libraries to create one searchable resource. In January 2012 the project was decommissioned, the original ARCHway tables created by the ADS can be downloaded as a ZIP Archive.


  • Archaeology Academic Literacy in Virtual Environments (Archaeology ALIVE), in partnership with the Higher Education Academy.
  • Informing the Future of the Past 2. In partnership with English Heritage, Historic Scotland, ARIA and ALGAO. Completed 2007.
  • Harvesting the Fitzwilliam, in partnership with the Fitzwilliam Museum, Funded by JISC(FAIR).
  • Accessing the Virtual Museum, in partnership with the Petrie Museum, Funded by JISC (FAIR).
  • The Virtual Walkabout {archive} In partnership with LTSN and the University of Leicester, completed 2003.
  • ArchWay. In partnership with University of York Library, funded by RSLP, completed 2002.
  • Heirnet Register In partnership with HEIRNET, continuing.
  • Informing the future of the Past in partnership with English Heritage and ALGAO, funded by English Heritage, completed 2000.