This application asks contributors to search through UK archaeological fieldwork reports for mention of radiocarbon dates. Lists of such dates have become increasingly useful to researchers, above and beyond their immediate role in providing an absolute chronology for a particular archaeological site. Some people have used them to model the appearance or disappearance in human history of certain categories of historical monument more accurately, others to reconstruct past regional population highs and lows, others to consider patterns of climate change, and others to understand society's changing emphasis on different foodstuffs.
Over the last 25 years, there has been an explosion of archaeological fieldwork in advance of modern development projects (e.g. road building, house construction, retail outlets, train lines etc.). This has produced vast amounts of new evidence and a very large number of published reports about archaeological sites, including many that contain radiocarbon dates. However, until recently, these reports were not published in easily accessibly places and were thus far too numerous and too scattered for their findings to make it regularly into mainstream archaeological interpretations of the UK's human past. However, over the last decade, the Archaeology Data Service (in close cooperation with individual archaeological companies, county heritage environment record-keepers and Historic England) has been building up an open access library of tens of thousands of such development-led archaeological reports. In this project we seek to extract radiocarbon data from them, but in principle the same approach might allow us collectively to enhance the value of these reports in all sorts of other important ways.
For this particular project, we have already conducted a first check of the entire report library and identified those reports that are very likely to contain radiocarbon dates. We now ask for your help with searching inside a particular report and entering any dates you find into a database in a systematic way. As always, any such contributions will themselves also be made publicly available.