Heritage Market Survey 2014

The report on the Heritage Market Survey 2014, which collected data on the condition of commercial archaeology in the UK in March 2014 has been published.

Download Heritage Market Survey 2014 Report.


Executive Summary

This Heritage Market Survey report is on the State of the Market for Archaeological Services in 2013-14 and has been prepared by Landward Research Ltd on behalf of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, FAME and Historic England.

At the end of March 2014, the number of people working in archaeology was increasing and business confidence was high.


  • In total, it is estimated that the applied archaeology sectoral workforce grew by 3.0% between December 2012 and March 2014.
  • Over a comparable period, the number of archaeological staff providing expert advice to local planning authorities declined by 9.5% at a time when a shortage of heritage staff in local planning authorities is considered to be a major constraint on heritage projects.
  • Overall, these combined to result in the net number of people working in professional archaeology in the UK growing (by 1.0%) over the period from December 2012 to March 2014, to an estimated total of 4,830 individuals.
  • When taken in combination with the comments received on business confidence and experience, the increase in staffing can be interpreted as representing the end of the period of contraction that began in 2008 and the start of a genuine period of growth for the industry.

Financial Performance

  • Respondent organisations (FAME members and CIfA Registered Organisations) typically generated approximately £750,000 of revenue per annum, with none of this income being generated outside the UK.
  • Some particularly large turnover figures meant that the average (mean) UK turnover for an applied archaeology company in 2013-14 was £1.6m, with an additional 2% above that being generated from non-UK work.
  • Profit levels were low.

Market Sectors

  • The overwhelming majority of income (67%) came from private sector clients
  • The most important market sector was residential development, followed by energy.

Business Confidence

  • In all areas, business confidence in March 2014 was at its highest levels since this series of surveys began in 2008.
  • For the first time, more businesses had plans for expansion in the next twelve months than did not, and in the three other areas covered – increasing staff numbers, market conditions and expectations that sectoral businesses could fail – overall responses were more positive than they had been in any previous survey.

Skills, training and qualifications

  • Fieldwork skills were those most commonly reported as being lost
  • The areas where training was focussed matched reasonably closely to the areas where skills were being reported as being lost – so these were skills gaps (skills that existing staff needed but lacked), and they were being tackled by investment in training.
  • In comparison with the areas where outside expertise was being bought in (skills shortages – where employers could not find staff with the relevant skills), fieldwork and post-fieldwork skills were being both bought in and internally trained up, but conservation (of materials) was much more likely to be bought in.


  • Respondents considered that the economic climate for development would improve in the 12 months of financial year 2014-15.
  • Typically, they thought their heritage teams would grow, and they were even more confident that their teams would not contract in size.
  • The majority of respondents thought that late payment of bills was an increasingly significant problem for their business, although non-payment had not been a significant problem for most businesses.
  • Respondents disagreed with the assertion that “current national planning policy frameworks weaken the case for heritage work and revenue levels”.
  • Broadly, respondents were unsure of whether Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) were unwilling to review their green belt boundaries.
  • They agreed that a shortage of heritage staff in LPAs was a major constraint on heritage projects.

Response rate

  • Response levels were moderate; in total, 88 organisations were asked to provide information and a total of 47 responses were received, although one was blank and four represented duplicate entries, so the total number of useable responses was 42, a response rate of 47.7%. However, not every respondent answered every question, so the response rate for some questions was even lower.
  • The factors that appeared to contribute most to the low response rate were – some new questions were being asked; the survey was asking for relatively old information (respondents were invited to remember sentiment and find financial information from a year earlier); busy time of year as some potential respondents replied that they had to concentrate on end-of-year reporting and budget setting, and weren’t able to devote resources to answering.

Future Work

This study will be repeated annually, starting in early summer 2015, collecting data from the end of the previous financial years on a cyclical basis until 2017-18 when it is intended that this will form part of the quinquennial Profiling the Profession project which gathers comparable data from the entire archaeological profession.


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