Archaeological Desk-Based Assessments

Course summary

Archaeological Desk-Based Assessments


Desk-based assessments are important tools for understanding the historic environment and for managing change. Although these reports are increasingly required in the planning process or as an early stage in the development of conservation plans and environmental assessments, many historic environment professionals have little or no training in researching, compiling and presenting them. This course informs participants about the role of desk-based assessments in managing the cultural heritage resource and provides a practical guide to their production. It will also include guidance on the use of desk-based assessments to fulfil the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The course will be of interest to all those who are currently (or hope to be) involved in the commissioning or production of desk-based assessments. It is targeted towards new entrants to the profession and those who would like to develop skills in this area.


The course objectives are as follows:

•  to provide an introduction to the policy and legislative background that guides the demand and production of desk-based assessments;

•  to outline the key requirements of desk-based assessments and how these influence the objectives and the structure of reports;

•  to provide a guide to using primary and secondary source material, and to promote an understanding of the scope and limitations of such data and their application to planning or management projects;

•  to provide a guide to use of source material to model historic environment potential and assess the impact of change;

•  to assist participants in presenting the results of desk-based assessments to key audiences and stakeholders;

•  to consider some of the future developments in technology and information resources that are likely to affect the production of desk-based assessments.


The following questions will be addressed:

•  what is the policy and legislative background and context for desk-based assessments?

•  what is the role and purpose of desk-based assessments?

•  what are the key sources and how should they be used and critically evaluated?

•  How should reports be produced to address the requirements of the key audiences?

•  how are future developments in policy, technology and information resources likely to influence desk-based assessments?

Programme details


9.00 am           Registration and coffee / tea

9.30 am           Introduction                      

9.40 am           Policy and legislation background and the role and purpose/s of desk-based assessments

10:00 am         Introduction to the sources

10.30 am         Curator’s Perspective

11.00 am         Coffee / tea

11.20 am         Types of desk-based assessment: matching design and content to the requirements of the client and regulatory authorities

11.40 am         Workshop 1: critical evaluation of examples of desk-based assessments

1.00 pm           Lunch

2.00 pm           Workshop 2: using examples of development scenarios to design desk-based assessments

3.15 pm           Tea / coffee

3.35 pm           Future developments             

4.00 pm           Plenary discussion    

4.30 pm           Course disperses


National Occupational Standards for Archaeology: Supports the Performance and Knowledge requirements for CCSAPAC1 Research and analyse information to achieve objectives.

Recommended reading

Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. 2014. Standard and guidance for historic environment desk-based assessment,

National Planning Policy Framework

Planning Policy Guidance: Conserving and enhancing the historic environment

Environmental Impact Assessments: Guidance


Accommodation is not included in the price, but depending on availability it may be possible to stay at Rewley House on the night before your course.  Please contact our Residential Centre on +44 (0) 1865 270362 or email  for details of availability and prices.


Accommodation in Rewley House - all bedrooms are modern, comfortably furnished and each room has tea and coffee making facilities, Freeview television, and Free WiFi and private bath or shower rooms.


Tuition includes coffee/tea: £215.00
Baguette Lunch: £4.40
Full Hot Lunch: £13.00


Payment of fees must be made in full at the time of booking. Please note that businesses and organisations can be invoiced on provision of a Purchase Order and completed application form. These can be emailed to the CWHE Programme Administrator, email:


Dr Jill Hind

Course Director

Former Senior Project Manager, Oxford Archaeology

Ms Melanie Pomeroy-Kellinger

Course Director

County Archaeologist for Wiltshire