"A Policy for Archaeological Investigation in Wessex: 1981-1985", written by Ann Ellison after wide discussion with colleagues, both professional and amateur, was published in 1981. This was the first of a series of such regional policy documents which were subsequently produced for other areas. It assessed the known archaeology of Wessex and put forward a set of priorities for future work. WAC would undertake some of the work itself, such as the Stonehenge Environs Project (which had, in fact, started in 1980), while universities or other appropriate bodies would carry out other projects, such as work on Cranborne Chase and at Hambledon Hill in Dorset.
In Reading, excavations focused on the Abbey had been in progress since 1979. The town's archaeological potential had been considered low, but the 1979 excavation had shown that this was not so. The excavation at Abbey Wharf confirmed the value of Reading's waterfront sites for preserving not only structural but also organic remains, such as wood and leather. Organic material only survives in wet conditions, where air is excluded, but these often make for extremely difficult and unpleasant working conditions. A dewatering system was used at this and other Reading sites to allow excavation to go ahead more easily.
Elsewhere, a salvage excavation was needed to cope with the discovery during road widening of an Anglo-Saxon cemetery near Downton, Wiltshire. The cemetery had come to light only when a sword was handed in to Salisbury Museum.