History of the unit

Detail of a historic timbered building

Archaeology South-East started life as the Institute of Archaeology’s Field Archaeology Unit in the early 1970s. The first purpose of the Field Unit was to train students during the Institute’s field schools in Sussex whilst working on staff research projects in the area.

The unit soon became involved in publicly funded ‘Rescue’ archaeology, becoming the regional unit responsible for the archaeology of Sussex. As the 'Sussex Archaeological Field Unit' it undertook a series of important field projects in the 1980s (including work at Boxgrove Quarry, Roman villas at Bignor and Barcombe, and on the Brighton By-pass).

In the 1990s the unit became increasingly involved in commercially funded projects. Operating as 'Archaeology South-East', and re-structured to meet the exacting standards of the private-sector we have become one of the largest and most effective contract archaeology teams working in Southern England. By 2012 the team had completed nearly 3000 commercial projects for a wide variety of clients.

In May 2013 Archaeology South-East was expanded to absorb the former Essex County Council Field Archaeology Unit, involving the transfer of all staff, projects and facilities. The Essex County Unit had, like its Sussex counterpart, been involved in rescue and contract archaeology since the 1970s. The transferring staff had been responsible for a string of major archaeological projects throughout East Anglia, such as the excavation of the Roman towns at Heybridge and Chelmsford.

Under the direction of Dominic Perring Archaeology South-East now employs approximately 100 permanent staff, with an annual operating turnover of £5 million, working from offices in Brighton, London and Braintree. In addition to being one of the UK’s leading archaeological practices it is also currently active in projects world-wide.

Working with communities, developers, local government, academics, specialists and local residents Archaeology South-East has unrivaled experience in reconciling the different needs of all concerned with historic landscapes. Archaeology South-East, now housed within the Centre for Applied Archaeology continues to provide teaching and training support for teaching and research projects undertaken at the Institute of Archaeology.

Archaeology South-East is a Registered Organisation with the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, which plays a lead role in developing and monitoring adherence to best professional practice. Registration offers a ‘kitemark’ of archaeological quality. It also adheres to internal Quality Assurance procedures and through UCL carries £15,000,000 in professional indemnity insurance. The unit works in full accordance with UK Health & Safety procedures, both domestically and overseas. Work commissioned from Archaeology South-East is carried out in accordance with the best professional standards, including the CIfA Code of Conduct and Code of Approved Practice for the regulation of Contractual Arrangements in Field Archaeology.

List of Directorships of the unit:

Peter Drewett 1973 - 1991
David Rudling 1991 - 2004
Dominic Perring 2004 - Present

Page last modified on 06 oct 15 11:27