Surrey Archaeological Research Framework

The Surrey Archaeological Research Framework (SARF) has been produced by a partnership between Surrey County Council and Surrey Archaeological Society. The SARF Steering Group (Jon Cotton, Peter Harp, Audrey Monk, Richard Savage, Peter Youngs and David Bird) has aimed to make the research framework process work for anyone interested in Surrey's past through a series of seminars, conferences and draft documents.

In common with other parts of England, SARF has been based on the following model (but with modifications):

  • a resource assessment - a 'statement of the current state of knowledge and a description of the archaeological resource'
  • an agenda - 'a list of gaps in knowledge, of work which could be done, and of the potential for the resource to answer questions'
  • a strategy - 'a statement setting out priorities and method'

(See Adrian Olivier, "Frameworks for our past: a review of research frameworks, strategies and perceptions", Publisher: English Heritage.)

In Surrey we have effectively completed the resource assessment phase, for example with the books "The archaeology of Surrey to 1540" (published in 1987) and "Aspects of archaeology and history in Surrey" (2004). We have therefore been able to concentrate on the agenda and strategy sections. Following a conference in October 2005, a series of seminars was held between January and March 2006 to consider the important questions and ways in which they might be answered.

More time was devoted to the period after about AD1500 both because there is a lot of material and because we have devoted less time to it previously. Papers circulated in advance of these seminars and notes arising from them may be accessed from this page. A SARF document was then produced in draft and circulated for comment, and this process was then repeated with a second draft. Completion of a final document was marked by a conference in October 2006.

There was the usual problem of how to tackle the subject: chronologically or by theme? Others have mostly settled for chronology with added themes and this seems best in view of the way archaeological specialisms generally work, at least for the earlier periods.

We have tried to have our cake and eat it too, by tackling the chronological topics using common themes. These themes are then considered together, and a number of overarching themes, such as the influence of geology, the effect of London and links to neighbouring areas, are also to be discussed.

A final section includes discussion of how the Framework can be implemented, the methods to be used and the resources, training, etc, required.

The document has not been published in a formal printed mode because it is recognised that it is important to see the Research Framework as a continuing process. The web is ideal as a means of keeping an up-to-date version readily accessible and it is intended that SARF will be available both through Surrey County Council and the Surrey Archaeological Society. We aim to establish a mechanism whereby there will be regular updating so that important additions to the resource assessment and new questions arising from new discoveries or new theories can be noted.

David Bird (former Surrey County Archaeologist)

Comments regarding the Framework should be directed to:

Mr Tony Howe
Manager - Historic Environment Planning
Surrey County Council
Quadrant Court
35 Guildford Road
GU22 7QQ

Email: via

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