Why has the Toolkit been developed?

The development of this Toolkit for Specialist Reporting came directly from the recommendations made by the Historic England funded project Review of the Standard of Reporting on Archaeological Artefacts in England (PDF) (Cattermole 2017). The project was initiated by the CIfA Finds Special Interest Group to carry out a review of the quality of reporting on archaeological artefacts in England. The impetus for the project came from a growing level of concern over the standards of artefact work in developer-led archaeology, as reflected in the quality of reporting on artefact assemblages available as ‘grey literature’.

Three fragmentary glass vessels.

The Review comprised the assessment of 1,000 unpublished specialist artefact reports from grey literature and a further 61 published specialist artefact reports from journal articles. These were scored against a checklist devised by the CIfA FSIG and agreed by the project board. Those criteria were used to assess the content and quality of specialist artefact reports to enable evaluation of whether existing standards and guidance were being used effectively.

The Review demonstrated great variation in the content and quality of specialist artefact reports and highlighted several areas that require improvement. One of the project recommendations was to develop the criteria that were used to evaluate finds reports in the survey into a checklist that can be used during the planning and writing of finds reports and to assess and monitor the quality of finds reporting. This checklist forms the core of this Toolkit.

How was the Toolkit created?

Development of the Toolkit was undertaken by a cross-sector working group, with consultation involving a variety of bodies representing various interested parties including: specialist artefact study groups, Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO), and Federation of Archaeological Managers and Employers (FAME). The working party produced a draft toolkit that was sent out for consultation to the CIfA Finds Special Interest Group, ALGAO, FAME and the CIfA Advisory Council before wider consultation with the CIfA membership and specialist study groups. Following consultation, the Toolkit was trialled through an online workshop prior to finalisation and launch of the Toolkit website.