Please see our Testimonials page for feedback from other groups.    

Information for Groups

At Mercian we provide groups seeking funding with a comprehensive community archaeology, heritage and education package for groups developing projects.

Open Area Excavation Sherwood Forest Community Archaeology Groups

Community Archaeology

We are not a commercial unit set up to work in the planning system who are having a go at community archaeology on the side.

We are a Community Archaeology company offering local knowledge and expertise tailored to the needs of different groups.

These are not the same thing- and even if it is not us you choose to work with , we strongly recommend you consider working with a Community Archaeology Company to undertake Community Archaeology, as that is what they specialise in!

We are a streamlined Community Archaeology company:

This enables us to provide a personal and bespoke touch to all our projects.

Our streamlined nature means we not burdened with the massive overheads associated with larger commercial companies. This means we can pass on cost savings to you the customer, and bring in added value by working with specialists.

We work with specialists in environmental sampling, ceramics, glass, metal work, clay pipes, and many more…. We believe this is far better than doing everything ‘in-house’ as this means by working with us you will have access to the best specialists from around the country as part of your project.

We have a number of other highly experienced archaeologists who we can bring in to help us on larger scale projects- so we can take on any sized project - and still provide you with the very best support. This also means that there is no risk to your project if anyone is ill from our team.

Indeed unlike some commercial units we will not run your excavation at the same time as large commercial projects- this means that you will not lose staff members to other larger sites in times of staff illness

 When we are in the field with you - you will be our only field work we are undertaking at that time- making you are main priority.

All our staff are highly trained and have expertise in the local area. We will never leave you with junior staff in the field.

Project deign and funding applications

We tailor each individual project to suit the need of the group or community we are working with- we build all our Heritage Lottery Funded applications to meet their three main desired outcomes:

Outcomes for Heritage:

Where we work with the preservation and consolidation of structures we always ensure that the heritage is better managed and in better condition as a result of the work we do. In all our projects we ensure that the heritage of a site or area is better interpreted whether through online dissemination, through reporting or through on-site interpretation boards.

Outcomes for People:

We aim to ensure that through onsite training, teaching and involvement in archaeology- all volunteers will have developed skills and learnt about heritage. We know from working with hundreds of people over the years that community archaeology projects can have a fantastic impact on people- this can help people to change their view of their surroundings and bring a positive change to peoples lives.

We also know from experience and the testimonies of volunteers that everyone has a very enjoyable experience on our projects.

Outcomes for Communities:

All of our projects are designed to involve as may people from as wider range as possible in heritage and learning opportunities. All our projects aim to be inclusive, and we have  people from many different backgrounds and social needs regularly attending our projects from school children, adults with learning difficulties, children's groups, Young Archaeology Club members, adult education groups, U3A’s, heritage groups, community groups, WI’s,  unemployed people, retired people, disabled people, and many many more…

The aim of our projects is to increase the understanding of our rich heritage and to bring people together to learn about this fantastic inheritance, and by so doing make the local area/ community a better place to live, work or visit.

We can help you to design and create a comprehensive heritage project covering as many of the outlines above as possible.

Project development:

The Heritage Lottery state that “Archaeology is a finite and non-renewable resource; it can contain irreplaceable information about our past, and once it is destroyed or removed, it is gone forever. Taking part in an archaeological excavation can be one of the most exciting ways to find out more about our history, but the process of excavation is itself destructive. Therefore, it is vitally important that all archaeological investigations are carried out responsibly to ensure the information recovered is properly recorded and made available for others to learn about”.  

At Mercian we believe that community groups and volunteers can excavate and undertake archaeological excavations under the supervision of experienced Community Archaeologists, to the highest standards.

We would recommend any group undertaking archaeology to work with a Community Archaeology Company to ensure that the highest standards of excavation, recording, reporting and dissemination are met.

In the developing of any Heritage Lottery bid, Mercian Archaeological Services CIC adhere to the Standards and Guidance for Archaeology as created by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

This “Best Practice” can be difficult to understand, and is often given in different ways by different people, and so as well as providing a link to the Archaeological Best Practice for the HLF we have spoken to Ian Morrison who is Head of Historic Environment at the Heritage Lottery Fund to get an inside view on what exactly is meant for groups by Best Practice for the HLF.

As part of “Best Practice” each group is recommended to speak with the Local Historic Environment Service.

According to Ian Morrison, Head of Historic Environment at the Heritage Lottery Fund, this meeting is designed “to find out whether a site is scheduled or protected in some other way; to ensure the local authority archaeologist is aware of the work proposed and can provide advice and guidance if necessary; to ensure arrangements are put in place to update the Historic Environment Record with the results of the investigation; to ensure the group is aware of other investigations in the vicinity that might help them interpret the results of their own fieldwork etc.”

Does the HLF require a letter of support from the Historic Environment Service/ County Archaeologist supporting an archaeological project for a project to go ahead?

We ask our applicants to demonstrate in their grant application that they have discussed or attempted to discuss their project with the local authority historic environment service. We do not require letters of support… We assess each grant application on its own merits. If an applicant has demonstrated in their application that they have made all reasonable efforts to discuss their project with the local authority historic environment service, but have failed to secure support, we may still offer a grant if in our view the project demonstrates good value for money (in terms of delivering against our specified project outcomes) and will be in the best interests of heritage (i.e. where excavation is warranted and where sufficient arrangements are in place to properly record and publicise the affected archaeology). - Ian Morrison, HLF.

Excavation and fieldwork:

Mercian undertake all fieldwork to the relevant standards and guidance form the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists and English Heritage.

We are also highly experienced in running Community Archaeology fieldwork, training and supporting community groups and volunteers.

This makes us the ideal choice for your community archaeology project.

Report writing:

The HLF states that “There is no point in doing archaeological work, including excavation, unless you write up that information and make it widely available to others. Otherwise the information you recover about our past may be lost forever.”

At Mercian we will provide you with FULL technical Reports as also ensure all information is available to the public through other means including OASIS online database, and via our Projects pages, and our large social media following. We can also help with heritage trails, online and on the ground, and with display and interpretation panels.

We will also write a short report for the appropriate local archaeology journal, and a full written publication in the appropriate local or national journal if the findings are considered important enough.

All of Mercian’s work is submitted to the relevant Historic Environment Record.


Mercian will take care of the formalities of dealing with finds.

We also use the opportunity of finds processing to involve volunteers and groups in learning and training opportunities due to our fantastic finds expertise.

Mercian always seek to work with the very best Finds specialists,and other scientific specialisms. So by working with Mercian you will also be accessing the very best skills available in the industry.

Protected Sites:

It is essential that you check whether or not a site you may wish to investigate is a Scheduled Monument.

Mercian can of course help you in this as part of the project development.

A scheduled monument is an historic building or site that is included in the Schedule of Monuments kept by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. The regime is set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

Once a monument is scheduled any works to it, and flooding and tipping operations that might affect it, with few exceptions require scheduled monument consent from the Secretary of State, (not the local planning authority). English Heritage manages the process of scheduled monument consent on behalf of the Secretary of State.

For more information on Scheduled Sites see English Heritage Scheduled Monuments page.

It is therefore illegal to excavate on a Scheduled Site without Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC).

We recommend always speaking to English Heritage in this circumstance.


We hope the above information has been useful. For more information please contact us:


At Mercian we specialise in Community Archaeology; creating opportunities for the public to be involved in genuine archaeological research.

We believe that by working with the community and public, away from the tight time constraints and budgets, that often blight commercial archaeology, we can undertake research work of the highest quality. We can also take archaeology back to a basis in research and not simply one of being undertaken in response to requirements of planning and development control.

In other words community archaeology can lead the way in archaeological research…

And you can be a part of it!

We offer a whole suite of opportunities ranging from charged learning days and weeks, to FREE public events.

As a Community Interest Company we seek to offer free opportunities throughout the year.

By working alongside organisations such as the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Big Lottery and others we are also able to develop whole projects FREE to the public based around learning and bringing people and communities together with their heritage.

If you wish to be involved please have a look at our Projects page and come and join us!

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