There is a new project jointly funded by Arts Council England and Historic England, to assess strategic options for the ongoing issue of storing archaeological archives. The options appraisal will review existing and future capacity for archaeological archives within England, considering a full range of archive solutions and evaluate their potential to meet the needs of archive creators, managers and users.

The Mendoza Review of Museums (2017), which recognized a crisis in archaeological archive storage and access due to increased levels of archaeological work since the 1990s and reductions in funding, recommended the need to resolve the sustainability of archaeological archives. In response, Historic England and Arts Council England developed an Action Plan to address these long-standing challenges.

This project forms part of that plan, aiming to understand how the museum and wider archaeological sector can be best supported to ensure a sustainable model for the long-term storage of archaeological archives. Specifically, this research and options appraisal will explore what capacity already exists, review its effectiveness and identify different models considering future needs and benefits – providing a comprehensive report to help inform next steps.

The project team is led by Quinton Carroll (Cambridgeshire County Council, current chair of the Archaeological Archives Forum and of ALGAO: England), who will be working with Sally Croft (Cambridgeshire County Council), Samantha Paul (Independent consultant) and Manda Forster (DigVentures). The team will be circulating further information as the project progresses, including consultation surveys, and will contact a number of practitioners directly to discuss both existing and possible solutions.