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Project Stages

Archaeological science or environmental archaeological projects can take a variety of different forms, with a range of potential stages. Below, we provide an outline of the output you can anticipate at any given stage we are asked to undertake.

Written Scheme of Investigation / Project Design

Prior to the commencement of any project and when required, we will provide a Written Scheme of Investigation (WSI) (also referred to as a Project Design), required by the Local Planning Authority. These documents are crucial for the planning stages of any archaeological project and help to determine and clarify exactly what work is needed on any given site. Our experienced staff will design a strategy that ensures the best outcome in terms of results, research initiatives and Historic England standards.

Our WSI will collate all relevant existing sources of information in order to assess the environmental archaeological significance and potential of a site. This information is used to generate site-specific aims and objectives for subsequent stages of the project. We will provide a comprehensive method statement for each proposed field and laboratory-based technique, including consideration of sampling and extraction, assessment and analysis of environmental archaeological remains.

Fieldwork and Deposit Modelling

Fieldwork is an essential stage in almost all environmental archaeological projects. Quest is able to: (1) co-ordinate and undertake such work on stand-alone sites; (2) visit your archaeological site to record and collect samples and/or recommend sampling strategies, and (3) receive your samples having not visited the site.

No matter the approach adopted, if required, we can prepare a report detailing the sedimentary sequences and an interpretation of the processes that formed them. Where sufficient sequences are recorded, we can also create 2 & 3-Dimensional models of the main stratigraphic units and their distribution, providing further valuable insight into the former landscapes beneath your site and their archaeological potential. These so called 'deposit models' can also be created from historic archaeological and/or geotechnical records as an independent desk-based exercise.


An assessment is carried out to determine whether samples retrieved during the fieldwork stage have potential to contribute to the overall aims and objectives of the project. In order to do this, we will extract the necessary plant and animal remains under laboratory conditions, evaluate their concentration and preservation, and record the main taxa present. We may also need to carry out laboratory-based geoarchaeological and geochronological work to better understand the site context and date of the site.

The report you receive at the conclusion of this stage will contain the full results of the assessment and a provisional interpretation of their meaning, significance and potential. We will comment on the potential of the samples to achieve the original aims and objectives of the WSI, and update them where necessary. Finally, we will provide you with recommendations for analysis work (if required).


At the analysis stage, we will carry out all necessary works to fulfill the aims and objectives of the project, which generally involves fully quantifying the necessary plant and animal remains and improving upon the dating framework.

The report you receive at its conclusion will contain the full results of the analysis, a detailed explanation of their meaning, and an evaluation of the significance of the findings relative to the original aims and objectives of the project.


If the environmental archaeological findings are sufficiently significant, publication may be an important and necessary outcome of your project. We have a strong publication record, writing peer-reviewed papers for high-ranking academic journals, and making contributions to archaeological monographs and books.

Contact us

Rob Batchelor

+44 (0) 118 378 8941

+44 (0) 7734 530 438 


Mike Simmonds  

+44 (0) 118 378 8853

+44 (0) 7713 088 568


Postal Address:

Quaternary Scientific
School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science (SAGES)
The University of Reading
PO Box 227