Historical archaeology links and resources


Below are listed some of the major websites relevant to historical archaeology in Australia:

Reports on archaeological investigations

The Heritage Branch library holds copies of many interim and final reports completed as part of archaeological investigations. These reports may be viewed by appointment only at the Heritage Branch Library on Wednesdays and Fridays, 9am - 5pm.

Note: the list below is not exhaustive as it does not include all excavations completed before 2000, or reports currently under review. If you cannot find your site listed, please contact the Heritage Branch Librarian on (02) 9873 8591 to check.

You can also view archaeology final reports at your local council library. A copy of each final report submitted to the Heritage Branch is lodged with the relevant council.

In addition to final reports, the Heritage Branch Library also holds copies of archaeological studies (archaeological assessments, conservation management plans etc) completed for NSW councils, organisations and private companies.

Articles in Heritage NSW

Link to the following articles on Historical Archaeology which have appeared in the Heritage Branch newsletter:

Resources for students

Education kits

The Big Dig Kit is an educational kit suitable for ages 15+. It presents a factual case study of an important Australian excavation, the Cumberland and Gloucester Streets site in the Rocks. Know as the "Big Dig" this excavation increased our understanding of the lives of the site's early colonial and Victorian inhabitants. The kit can be used to broaden student's knowledge of Australian history or to present a case-study of an Australian archaeological excavation. It was produced by Godden Mackay Logan, Astarte Resources and the Historic Houses Trust of NSW, with financial assistance from the NSW Heritage Incentives Program. Kits can be purchased from:

Astarte Resources, GPO Box 920, Canberra, ACT 2601
Website and catalogue: www.astarte.com.au
Contact: Ben Churcher Tel: 02 6238 3616

Email: info@astarte.com.au

Archaeology Education Kit

The Big Dig Kit

Trowels and Tribulations is an education kit prepared by Australand, with the support of the Heritage Branch, about the Quadrant archaeological dig in Ultimo, on Sydney's CBD fringe. This was one of the largest urban excavations in Sydney and the kit provides details of this significant site and the archaeologist's findings. It includes a colour report on the excavation, video and heritage brochures. Limited numbers of the free kit are available from the Heritage Branch.

Email:heritage@heritage.nsw.gov.au to order the kit.

Trowels and Tribulations Education Kit

Trowels and Tribulations Education Kit

Museums and tours for school students

What's new for archaeologists

Changes to the definition of a 'relic' under the Heritage Act

The definition of an archaeological 'relic' under the Act changed in 2009. A relic is now an archaeological deposit, or artefact that has heritage significance at a local or State level. New guidelinesAssessing Significance for Historical Archaeological Sites and `Relics' (archsignificance.pdf, 184KB) have been endorsed by the Heritage Council and are now available for download.

Changes to fees

Fees for excavation permits and section 60 applications will change from September 2005. See the regulation announcement for the latest information on the regulations and their impact on application fees.

Changes to permits and forms

  • Excavation permits are now valid for five (5) years from the date of approval. This change was made to bring section 140 approvals in line with other approvals such as those issued under section 60 of the Heritage Act and the DA consents issued by local government; and
  • Summaries of the results of field work will be requested within one (1) month of completion of archaeological field work. It is intended that this summary will provide the Heritage Branch and the community with basic information about the results of the archaeological fieldwork, until a final excavation report is received.

Changes have also been made to the excavation permit approval letter, which now requests the applicant to provide information on economic aspects of the proposal. This information will assist the Heritage Council of NSW in determining the economic role of heritage in development in NSW.

New S140/S144 Form Released

Recent feedback from Applicants and Land Owners has indicated that the previous S140 form was overly long and there was no form for Applicants to use when they wanted to vary a permit.

The Heritage Council has responded to this feedback by recently approving a new, combined S140/S144 archaeology permit form which incorporates the requirements to obtain a permit under Section 140 of the Heritage Act and a new S144 form to vary an existing permit. This form allows for significantly more detail and cuts 'red tape' by combining the two approvals into a single form.

S140/S144 Archaeological Permit & Variation Form (S140-S144Frm2013.pdf, 45kB)

New S139/S146 Form Released

Changes to the S139 Exception form have been undertaken to incorporate changes to the definition of a 'relic' in the Heritage Act and to remove a number of notifications to be made for a range of excavations where approval is not required. A new S146 notification for the discovery of a 'relic' has also been included on this form to provide an easier pathway for members of the public and other stakeholders to report the discovery of a relic to the Heritage Council.

S139 Exception & S146 Notification of a 'Relic' Form (S139-S146Frm2013.pdf, 45kB)

New Model Brief for Archaeological Management Plans

A Model Brief for Archaeological Management Plans was prepared by the Heritage Branch in 2008 and can be downloaded as part of the Archaeological Management Plans (AMPguideline.pdf, 4.2MB) mentioned above.

Also refer to the Funding pages of this website as such plans may meet funding criteria under the Local Government Heritage Management Program.

Strategic projects

The Heritage Branch and the Heritage Council's Archaeology Advisory Panel are currently working on a short guideline 'First Aid for Artefacts'.

The Heritage Branch is considering a revised form for the Application Under Section 140/60 for an Archaeological Excavation Permit and revision of the checklist. The new format will assist with the provision of the essential information needed for the permit reporting process and also aims to facilitate a possible future move to on-line lodgement of statutory applications. The purpose of these changes is to help streamline and standardise how applications are received, assessed and processed by the Heritage Branch.


We are very keen to get feedback and are interested in any ideas for new guidelines, standards or policies. Please don't hesitate to get in touch with our historical archaeologists: Siobhan Lavelle or Katrina Stankowski

Further information on historical archaeology can be found at frequently asked questions.

Page last updated: 03 October 2013