Archaeological excavation involves the full investigation of sites of archaeological interest prior to development. Every excavation will incorporate a number of specialised techniques and methodologies including artefact recovery and environmental sampling. Wessex Archaeology specialises in pre-development excavations and provides a comprehensive record of the areas investigated.
Excavation is by nature a destructive process, but its controlled and scientific manner allows us to gain as much information as possible when considering the date and function of the archaeology. The aim of any excavation is to identify and understand human activity and occupation in the past, and to preserve the evidence in record for future generations.
The excavation of sites involves the recovery of material from a place where there is evidence for past human activity, such as artefacts, settlement ditches, pits or postholes, environmental evidence and, most importantly, the contexts in which the site was formed over a period of time.
Excavation often follows previous phases of evaluation such as geophysics, trial trenching or test-pitting. Sites where archaeological potential is already well-known and well-recorded may require excavation without any previous investigative work.