Assessing Archaeological Significance

Course summary

Assessing Archaeological Significance


The concept of significance is now at the core of planning decisions affecting heritage assets, but the significance of archaeological remains can be particularly difficult to assess, since the extent and nature of these is often only partially understood. This course will provide practitioners with an updated overview of this issue in current planning policy. We will look at current initiatives to introduce greater clarity into the process, and offer guidance on sources of information and approaches.


The course is designed for historic environment professionals and those in related fields who are involved in the identification and assessment of archaeological remains and their significance, particularly (but not solely) in the context of planning decisions.


Who is the course aimed for?

The course is designed for historic environment professionals and those in related fields who are involved in the identification and assessment of archaeological remains and their significance, particularly (but not solely) in the context of planning applications


Why is it worth these people attending?

Significance has now become a core concept in the planning process, but it is particularly problematic in relation to buried archaeological remains, the extent and nature of which are often only partially understood.. The course will offer practitioners an insight into current initiatives and evolving practice in this area, together with expert guidance on appropriate sources of information and approaches to assessing significance.



Programme details

9.00 am           Registration and coffee / tea


9.30 am           Welcome and Introductions


9.45 am           The national legal and policy framework

                         Roger M Thomas


10.30 am         Coffee / tea    


11.00 am         Local authority perspectives on assessing archaeological

                       significance (1)

                       Sandy Kidd


11.45 am         Worthy of expert investigation? Archaeological interest, 

                       research frameworks and significance.

                       Chris Welch


12.30 pm       Discussion


12.45 pm       Lunch


2.00 pm        Local authority perspectives on assessing archaeological

                     significance (2).

                     David Radford


2.30 pm       Practical exercise


3.30 pm       Tea / coffee


4.00 pm       Discussion of practical exercise and concluding remarks


4.30 pm       Course ends


National Occupational Standards for Archaeology: this course contributes to the Knowledge Requirements for


AA1     Develop policies and guidance for archaeology



AC1     Research and analyse information to achieve objectives



AD1     Characterise the archaeological resource and recommend action





Accommodation is not included in the price, but depending on availability it may be possible to stay at Rewley House the night before the 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:



Mr Sandy Kidd


Principal Archaeological Adviser, Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service

Mr David Radford


Oxford City Archaeologist

Mr Roger M Thomas

Course Director

Barrister and Archaeologist, Historic England

Mr Chris Welch

Course Director

Inspector of Ancient Monuments, Historic England

Course aims

Course aims and objectives

The aim of the course is to provide guidance for those involved in assessing the significance of archaeological remains, by explaining the legislative and policy framework, updating delegates on current initiatives and evolving practice, and reviewing sources of information and useful approaches



Teaching methods

Course content

The course will include the following    

  • A review of the concept of significance in the historic environment and how it applies to archaeological remains
  • A review of the legal framework and planning policy, and the protection afforded to archaeological remains
  • The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and the concept of national importance; non-statutory scheduling criteria used to assess national importance; new concepts in planning policy, including archaeological interest
  • The role of research frameworks in assessing significance
  • Guidance on good practice: what sources of information might be available at national and local levels, what sources should be consulted, what criteria are likely to be important, what additional information might be required


Teaching outcomes

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, participants will have an updated understanding of the legal and planning background and the particular issues relating to archaeological remains and how these are being addressed in current initiatives and practice. Participants will have a greater understanding of the range of sources of information that can and should be used in an assessment of archaeological significance.