Managing Archaeology

Cup marked outcrop in woodland at Kilmartin © Jonathan Wordsworth

Managing Archaeological Sites and the Historic Environment

There is no single textbook or website giving comprehensive advice on the management of archaeological and historic sites. The links listed below are some that we think are useful, particularly for land mangers in Scotland.

General Advice

Archaeology Scotland Rural Guides

English Heritage have produced an excellent and extensive range of Guidance for Land Managers on the HELM website.

Natural England have a useful webpage Historic environment & cultural landscapes

Cadw have developed a well illustrated series of guides under the heading Caring for.....

Access & Presentation

Historic Scotland has considerable experience in presenting sites to the public and may be able to offer grants towardsthe cost of presentation. For further information contact Historic Scotland

Scottish Natural Heritage have a wide range of publications on Access. They also have a useful articles on Interpretation. The Access Code for Scotland can be viewed here.

Heritage Paths in Scotland is a website, hosted by the Scottish Rights of Way & Access Society and lists nearly 300 historic routes in Scotland.

Natural England has some useful design guidance such as CA181-Signs on Access land in England: Guidance for access authorities -sign design guide but do remember that access legislation is different in England.


Arable land and cropmark sites

Archaeology Scotland  Rural Advice Notes 7 Buffer Zones, 10 Arable Land, 15 Cropmarks & 26 Drainage

Archaeology Scotland Managing Archaeological Sites in Arable Systems 1 & 2

Archaeology Scotland Identifying and Managing Archaeological Cropmark Sites

Management of archaeological sites in arable landscapes BD 1701 A detailed and important study funded by DEFRA and English Heritage looking at the impact of arable agriculture on archaeological sites. It includes a series of major Case Studies. This is one of 5 studies under the Research Theme Landscape, History & Amenity including the important COSMIC model for assessing risk to cropmark sites. The latest is BD 1705 (2010) Trials to identify Soil Cultivation Practices to Minimise the Impact on Archaeological Sites Caring for Archaeological Sites on Arable Land A 6 page leaflet produced by English Heritage.

Assessing risk and damage to cropmark sites using land surface curvature article by Andrew Burke first published in The Archaeologist 47, Winter 2003


Biodiversity studies

The majority of environmental management information is related to improving biodiversity. The following sites are worth studying because they are relevant even though they make no reference to historic environment issues.

Scottish Biodiversity Forum


Biomass Energy & the historic environment advice in England



Dartmoor Archaeology & Bracken Project

TAN 17 Bracken and Archaeology ISBN 1 900168 61 8, priced £5 this publication can be ordered from Historic Scotland.

Bracken Control A Guide to Best Practice a publication originally designed by the Southern Uplands Partnership and now promoted by SEPA & SEARS.

Natural England TIN 47 Bracken management – ecological, archaeological and landscape issues and priorities (see also TIN048 Bracken management and control & SIN011 Bracken)

Archaeology Scotland Rural Advice Note 29: Bracken

The Heather Trust based in Dumfries co-ordinate the Bracken Control Group with several useful papers.

USP producers of the chemical ASULOX have useful information on bracken control though there are now EU restrictions on using this chemical.



Caring for vernacular or traditional buildings requires regular maintenance and repair.

Historic Scotland's Conservation guides and, in particular, its INFORM Guides give good technical information on maintaining traditional buildings. Maintaining your home The good practice outlined here is also suitable for maintaining traditional farm buildings.

Archaeology Scotland  Rural  Advice Notes 4 Listed Buildings, 22 Farm Buildings & 23 Ruined Buildings

Other excellent advice can be seen on the English Heritage HELM website including Caring for Farm Buildings and Living Buildings in a Living Landscape (there is a shorter 12 page version)

Cadw (Welsh Heritage Agency) have a useful site Maintenance Matters  including under their Care & Conservation series Small Rural Dwellings in Wales (in 3 parts) & Traditional Agricultural Buildings in Wales (in 2 parts) - not currently online. Also Converting Historic Farm Buildings: A Guide to Good Practice (in 2 parts).

The Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings have produced a useful series of 35 Technical Q&As for maintaining and protecting old buildings.

A Stitch in Time. produced by SPAB & IHBC (Institute of Historic Building Conservation), emphasises the importance of regular checks & maintenance


Burrowing Animals

TAN 16 Burrowing Animals and Archaeology ISBN 1 900168 60 X, priced £5 this publication can be ordered from Historic Scotland.

Natural England TIN 003 Rabbits –management options for preventing damage is an 8 page guide.

Archaeology Scotland Rural Advice Note 30: Rabbits


Climate Change

Coastal erosion - see work of the SCAPE Trust

English Heritage advice on climate change

Historic Scotland advice on climate change


Cultivation remains

Guidelines for the Preservation of Areas of Rig and Furrow in Scotland



Archaeology Scotland  Rural Advice Note 26: Drainage 


Drystone Dykes (elsewhere known as stone walls)

Archaeology Scotland Rural Advice Note 16: Dykes

The Drystone Walling Association of Great Britain have an excellent website which includes a professional register of members and a useful series of publications and downloadable leaflets on styles and methods. Technical and legal requirements are also available. 

The University of Catalunya has a useful website Dry Stone Landscape web page listing a variety of structures, walls, terraces acoss the world as well as in Catalonia.



Archaeology Scotland Rural Advice Note 11: Pasture and Stock

see HELM Managing Earthwork Monuments (see also other 3 sections).

Cadw's Caring for Hillforts & Homesteads has useful information for repairing earthworks, but is not currently available on their website.


Economic impacts

A study of the social and economic impacts and benefits of traditional farm buildings and drystone wall repairs in the Yorkshire Dales National Park (nb this is only the first of 4 parts)

Building value - Public benefits of historic farm building repair in the Lake District


Fencing and buffer zones

Archaeology Scotland Rural Advice Note 7: Buffer Zones & 27: Fencing


Forestry, Woodland, Trees and Scrub 

see separate Arch Scot  web page Forestry & also Arch Scot Rural Advice Note 18: Trees & hedges

Clyde Valley Orchards Report no longer available online- a full copy may still be available from SNH.

Agroforestry Toolbox (website) available as a CD-ROM and a website, to help farmers, land managers and advisers decide if silvopastoral agroforestry is a viable, alternative and beneficial land use on farm land, and provides practical information on how to set it up. The web site has not been updated for several years but still contains useful points of discussion.

Establishment of a Register of Species-rich Hedgerows in Scotland Summary - full copy pdf file F00L106 can be ordered from SNH.

Natural England TIN001 the historic environment & woodland management

Orchards TIN012 (see also TIN013-015)

Carse of Gowrie Orchards Project

Woodland Trust Ancient Tree Guides No.1: Trees and farming (there are 6 other Ancient Tree Guides to be found here)

Trees in relation to Construction BS5837:2005 BSI Guidelines on Best Practice including removal of trees in relation to buildings


Grants available

Historic Scotland Looking after our heritage - Grants


Land Mangers’ Options

Rural Priorities

Scottish National Rural Network   Funding & Support


Grassland & pastoral systems

Archaeology Scotland  Rural Advice Note 11: Pasture & Stock

English Heritage Caring for Archaeological sites in Grassland

See also Technical Notes such as SAC’s Conservation Grazing of Semi-natural Habitats

Natural England ESG015 – Historic Environment Features in Grassland  is no lnger available online. NE produce a number of other publications are relevant such as IN170 –The importance of livestock grazing for wildlife conservation that may be worth viewing. Pastoralism & its value in preserving the cultural heritage in Scotland

The Pastoral Project The Pastoral Project is a European-wide study of the environmental and economic impacts of a reduction in grazing systems in Europe. Though not concerned directly with archaeology, it has important cultural heritage implications. The project is now completed, and its reports can be found on the website. This includes 8 information notes on the conservation importance of European pastoralism.

Appropriate grazing for archaeological sites - see research



Natural England have developed a resource called Hedgelink to promote the better understanding and protection of hedgerows across the UK. This includes a useful information on surveying hedges, though this is primarily focused on biodiversity interests, rather than the historic value of hedges as landscape features of some age.



Landscape Study of the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site full copy can be ordered from SNH.

An Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes-Supplementary Volume 1. The Lothians 2001 (113pp £10 from TCRE, Historic Scotland no ISDN)

Islay House Designed Landscape Management Plan can be ordered from SNH.

Historic Landuse Assessment (HLA) is an important tool in understanding the historic dimension in Scotland’s landscapes and how it can be used to assist future change.

English Heritage Boundless Horizons - Historic Landuse Characterisation is a useful introduction to a similar process to HLA in England

see also Using Historic Landscape Characterisation

European Landscape Convention - a pan European policy for landscape endorsed by both Scottish and UK governments


Moorland Management

Scottish Government The Muirburn Code

Prescribed burning on Moorland: Supplement to the Muirburn Code (last revised 2006)

SNH Guide to Upland Habitat Management also 6 Moorland Management Schemes where funding was given to achieve natural heritage objectives

Natural England SC26 - The Upland Management Handbook This is a 796 page guide divided into 15 separate pdf documents.


Vegetation Control

Historic Scotland produced in 2004 a guidance note The Control of Vegetation on Scheduled Monuments and Other Important Archaeological Sites. Archaeology Scotland would stress that this is for guidance and that for management of Scheduled Monuments you must consult Historic Scotland first. Vernacular Buildings see Buildings

last updated 1st March 2011