Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI)

A WSI is a method statement detailing the steps taken by the developer to ensure that the proper and correct procedure will be taken during an archaeological intervention. It is usually the first port of call and written prior to the actual physical intervention taking place. A WSI should be part of the archaeological condition attached to the planning application, although this document alone will not necessarily clear the archaeological condition as a standalone document.


Once you have submitted a planning application to a local authority it may require an archaeological evaluation before planning consent is granted. Evaluation can be either non-intrusive such as geophysical or field survey, or intrusive such as trial trenching.

The definition of archaeological field evaluation is a limited programme of non-intrusive and/or intrusive fieldwork which determines the presence or absence of archaeological features, structures, deposits, artefacts or ecofacts within a specified area or site on land, inter-tidal zone or underwater. If such archaeological remains are present field evaluation defines their character, extent, quality and preservation, and enables an assessment of their worth in a local, regional, national or international context as appropriate¹. 

An evaluation will gather information on the archaeology of the site, so that an informed recommendation can be made to the local authority regarding the potential impact of development upon any buried or built heritage resource. This may include proposals for preservation of remains in situ, or the sympathetic design of the foundations to lessen the impact of the development. It may also include proposals for further investigation and recording, such as excavation and strip, map and record or a programme of observation and recording, sometimes known as a watching brief.

Excavation and Strip, Map and Record

Excavation, sometimes known as strip, map and record is usually undertaken when significant archaeological remains have been demonstrated to exist on a site, usually proven by evaluation.

The definition of archaeological excavation is a programme of controlled, intrusive fieldwork with defined research objectives which examines, records and interprets archaeological deposits, features and structures and, as appropriate, retrieves artefacts, ecofacts and other remains within a specified area or site on land, inter-tidal zone or underwater. the records made and objects gathered during fieldwork are studied and the results of that study published in detail appropriate to the project design¹.

Watching Brief or Archaeological Observation and Recording

Observation and Recording, sometimes known as a watching brief is usually applied as a condition of planning consent, when previous investigations such as desk-based assessments or evaluations.

The definition of an archaeological watching brief is a formal programme of observation conducted during any operation carried out for non-archaeological reasons. This will be within a specified area or site on land, inter-tidal zone or underwater, where there is a possibility that archaeological deposits may be disturbed or destroyed. The programme will result in the preparation of a report and ordered archive¹.

Historic Building Recording

Historic building recording may be required during re-development of a historic building or structure and is often specified as a condition of Planning Consent, Listed Building Consent or Conservation Area Consent. Currently there are four levels of historic building recording (Levels 1-4) as specified by Historic England. We can also provide Historic Building Appraisals and Assessments to support planning applications.

The definition of archaeological building investigation and recording (ABIR) is a programme of work intended to establish the character, history, dating, form and archaeological development of a specified building, structure, or complex and its setting, including buried components, on land, inter-tidal zone or underwater¹. 


1. (CIFA) Chartered Institute for Archaeologists 2020