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Geophysical Survey Requirements 

We find that the main problems in arranging a survey are getting detail of the site as otherwise we have to go and visit it ourselves which isn't cost effective. Recent photos of the area to be surveyed, an idea of what we are looking for and sorting out of access consents should be provided at the outset. Historic England require that for Scheduled Ancient Monuments a Section 42 Licence is required before geophysical work can take place and the costs of complying with these can treble the cost of a small test survey. Whether requiring such licences is legal is another matter.

The Chartered Institute for Archaeologists has guidance for geophysical surveys which can be seen on their website. Below are some parts of it summarised with some additions:-

However it arises, an archaeologist should only undertake a geophysical survey which is governed by a written specification or project design, agreed by all relevant parties as this is the tool against which performance, fitness for purpose, and hence achievement of standards, can be measured. The survey project manager should be aware of and ensure compliance with all necessary legal requirements.

The specification or project design should contain, as a minimum, the following elements:  

Non-technical summary 

Site location (including map) and descriptions (including conditions at time of survey)

Designations (Scheduled Monument number(s))

Context of the project

Geological/geomorphological and topographical background

Archaeological and historical background

General and specific aims of the survey

Reference to relevant legislation

Survey methodology

Report preparation (method) including data presentation

Publication and dissemination proposals (to see how happy the client is to have the results made available to the public and any timescale requirements).


Archive deposition



Health and Safety considerations

Monitoring procedures

Contingency arrangements (if appropriate). 

To these it may be wise to add:-

Disclaimer - so the client isn't surprised later on.

Payment arrangements.