Title: Excavation of prehistoric waterlogged deposits at Stainton West
Credit: © Cumbria County Council

Understanding Models for the Delivery of Local Authority Archaeology Services

Local authority archaeology services in England are delivered via a variety of mechanisms and structures that have evolved according to local circumstances. In order to assist local authorities in supporting services that are effective for their own unique needs, ALGAO: England commissioned Landward Research to develop an understanding of how these structures have evolved and what contributes to their success or failure.

This report explores changes and adaptations that have been made to services in response to differing pressures and constraints since 2010, and alternative models of delivery that have been considered are examined.

The key conclusion of the report is that there is no universal ‘best-fit model’.

Local authority archaeology services in England are delivered via a variety of mechanisms and structures that have evolved according to local circumstances.

In order to assist local authorities in supporting services that are effective for their own unique needs, ALGAO: England commissioned Landward Research to develop an understanding of how these structures have evolved and what contributes to their success or failure.

Different models are in use because of the evolutionary nature of the ways these services have developed over the last fifty years. There was no uniform ‘start date’ for such services, nor was a top-down model ever imposed on local planning authorities at any given time. It can be seen that the kinds of services provided are influenced by the type of authority an archaeological service is advising – for example, county councils often have synergies with natural environment services, but not with the (historic) built environment, as those services are delivered at district level. Unitary authorities are more likely to be able to combine expertise that bring archaeology together with both built and natural environment advisers.

Many of the models that are currently being used might be able to be improved, but they have developed to fit their particular circumstances, and without external shocks, they are fit for purpose.


“We welcome the publication of this important in-depth report which has demonstrated that there is no ‘one size fits all solution’ to providing local authority archaeology services.

Importantly where archaeological services are supported and allowed to evolve in response to local conditions and requirements, then those services are best placed and better able to deliver outcomes for local communities, the economy, business and the environment.”

John Lawson, Chair. ALGAO: UK.

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