New guidance - archaeological archives from sterile projects

New definition and guidelines on the creation/ deposition requirements for archaeological archives from sterile projects

We are pleased to announce that new guidance for sterile archives, developed as part of a Historic England funded project, and delivered by Sam Paul Heritage in partnership with the Archaeological Archives Forum (AAF) and CIfA, is now online. This information is available as a dedicated webpage as part of the Toolkit for Selecting Archaeological Archives and can be found hereWe hope this resource will be useful for organisations and individuals alike.

Project background
The project commenced in 2021 with the aim being to produce a sector-wide agreed definition for archaeological archives from sterile projects, in addition to guidance outlining creation and deposition requirements. This was deemed necessary because the terms ‘negative site’, ‘blank site’ ‘sterile project’ and ‘negative archive’ are being used across the sector with a significant variation in how the terms are understood and applied in practice. While some museums and institutions detail their requirements for ‘negative sites’ or ‘blank sites’ in their deposition standards, anecdotal evidence suggests that other museums and local authorities are also using terms such as ‘negative archives’ and ‘insignificant remains’ when discussing deposition requirements, leading to variation in how the terms are applied and the resultant archaeological archives produced. As a result, the definition and use of one term would be beneficial, in addition to the creation of supporting guidelines on its application. The work undertaken as part of this project to address this and the resulting agreed definition and guidance was subject to cross-sector consultation and supported by the AAF.