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Watching Brief

An archaeological Watching Brief is the term used for a programme of archaeological work usually consisting of an archaeologist monitoring construction, to observe and swiftly investigate and record, any archaeological evidence that is revealed by site activities. This is applied as a form of mitigation, but the intensity of the watching brief might vary according to the type of works that are being monitored, and the approved design for the watching brief. It can include the authority to halt works while investigation and recording can be conducted safely, and often needs a very experienced archaeologist to enable the best results and informed collaboration with the principal contractor and their groundworks team.

HHC&C can advise the appropriateness of a watching brief, liaise with all parties and design the Written Scheme of Investigation to define the scope, for approval by the planning authority. HHD&C would then liaise with the client and site staff to identify key dates and times for implementation of the watching brief, dependent on the overall construction programme and the types of tasks that would need monitoring. This close liaison is essential for safe working and to reduce unnecessary costs, and to avoid unintentional non-compliance with the planning condition.

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