Test-pitting is used to assess the archaeological potential of a site. We advise test-pitting when a rapid form of minimally intrusive evaluation is required.

It is designed to recover a sample of artefacts from topsoil and subsoil deposits, with the bonus of providing a “snapshot “of any buried archaeological remains. The technique therefore combines the principles of fieldwalking and trial trenching.


Machine excavation

Choosing the best means of excavation is important. Machine excavation is often part of a Ground Investigation process designed to understand the geomorphological structure of the ground as well as a site’s archaeological potential.


Hand excavation

Hand-excavated test-pits are designed to map the density of artefacts across a large area. They are generally 1 m square, excavated as part of a regular gridded array (usually spaced somewhere between 10 m and 25 m apart). At high-potential sites our specialists sieve and scan the hand-excavated spoil to ensure all artefacts are collected.


Recovery of artefacts

As with fieldwalking, we process and catalogue artefacts by test-pit so we can draw up a distribution map for each category (e.g. pottery, worked flint) within a project Geographic Information System. This data is analysed to identify ‘hotspots’. These are often very good indicators of subsurface remains, providing a focus for further investigation.

Andy Crockett

How can we help?

Contact Andy Crockett, Regional Director South