Report number: 93/2011

Title A Look in the Rear-View Mirror: Twentieth Century Road Building and the Development of Professional Archaeology
Summary This report examines the developing relationship between modern road construction, particularly motorways, and the development of archaeology, primarily in the period since the Second World War. It highlights the difficulty of identifying archaeological interventions in response to a particular development threat such as this but, during a general literature survey, identifies several hundred references to projects from the 1920s onwards. Analysis demonstrates that prior to the advent of the motorway committees in 1969 archaeological interventions were rare. Even after this developments were slow. Gradually archaeology became incorporated into the planning process as local authority archaeological services developed through the 1970s. It also became increasingly professional as the ‘developerpays’ principle became established in the 1980s. These changes have become firmly established since the publication of Planning and Policy Guidance note 16 in 1990 and the increasing use of Environmental Impact Assessments on large road schemes. It is argued here that these changes can in large part be traced back to the results of the work of the motorway committees which demonstrated a previously unsuspected density of archaeological remains in many parts of England, many of which were being destroyed without record.
Series Research Department Reports
Pages 156
  • Alexander, M
Keywords Modern