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Archaeology Data Service (ADS)

Location: York, United Kingdom
Date: 11th to 15th November 2024
Contact: Dr Nicky Garland, Training and Communications Manager (

The ADS is the leading accredited digital repository for archaeology and heritage data generated by UK-based fieldwork and research. Founded in 1996, the core activity of the ADS is the long-term digital preservation of the data entrusted to our care. To do this we follow a policy of active data management and curation to ensure the integrity, reliability and accessibility in perpetuity of all our data. All resources archived with the ADS are Open Access, and delivered through our website to facilitate re-use by the heritage sector and wider community. In 2010 we were awarded the Data Seal of Approval and were one of the first UK repositories to be awarded the Core Trust Seal. In 2012 we won the Digital Preservation Coalition’s Decennial Award for the most outstanding contribution to digital preservation over the last decade.

The ADS promotes good practice in the use of digital data, it provides technical advice to the research community, and supports the deployment of digital technologies. ADS has an online catalogue of over 1.4 million items, 75,000 unpublished fieldwork reports, 60,000 journal articles, and over 4000 rich data archives, ranging from single research projects, such as Sutton Hoo, burial site of one of England’s earliest Anglo-Saxon kings, to major transport infrastructure projects, such as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, Heathrow Terminal 5 and Crossrail. A team of 12 digital archivists are dedicated to providing free online access to our holdings, and to preserving our collections in perpetuity. Our subject area is special because archaeological research generally leads to the destruction of the primary data as sites are excavated. The excavation records and the report will often be the only record of what was found – but these records are increasingly ‘born digital’ and they must be actively managed by skilled archivists or they will be lost forever.

Services currently offered by the infrastructure:

UoY-ADS participates in a variety of training and advice activities and projects. This includes organising and implementing data management workshops for university students and researchers, archaeological professionals and other stakeholders, and taking an active role in promoting and brokering better stewardship of archaeological data across the historic environment sector. This includes the long-term development of the Guides to Good Practice for archaeological data, which have been updated and expanded in partnership with Digital Antiquity in the USA and as part of several EU projects, such as ACE, VENUS and ARIADNE to ensure international relevance:
( guides-to-good-practice/)

We are dedicated to capacity building for archaeological data repositories throughout the world, and have led the SEADDA COST Action to promote this, hosting many COST Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs) and ARIADNEplus TNA. ADS also hosts representatives from other countries to undertake intensive instruction over several days or weeks, and has worked to train and advise colleagues wishing to create or expand new preservation and dissemination platforms for archaeological data. In the last 20 years we have hosted visits from the Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Japan and Turkey as those countries sought out best practice in data stewardship. From Jan- March 2023 we are providing training in digital archiving to the staff of the British Institute in East Africa, based in Nairobi.


The ADS will offer Summer School placements on the topics of digital preservation and data management best practices for archaeological data, which is applicable to most data types used in the arts and humanities. Each year the ADS will host up to 8 applicants for 1 week to provide instruction in digital preservation and data management best practices for archaeological data. Training will be provided by experts from the ADS and will include individual time to discuss the needs of your own organisation or project one on one with appropriate members of the ADS organisation.