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Archaeology is the study of the past through the material remains left by our ancestors. The evidence can be buried or upstanding, deliberately constructed or the by-product of other activities. The evidence can consist of a few artefacts or an ancient place name.

Archaeology is a finite, non-renewable resource. Some sites are durable and visible, while others are hidden and only revealed through excavation or research. However because the archaeological resource is irreplaceable, excavation is usually only appropriate if the site will otherwise by destroyed without record, or if there is a proven research need. Non-invasive investigation techniques are always preferable.

Many monuments and sites are protected by being Scheduled as Ancient Monuments, but this protection is limited and only extends to cover the more important monuments; the majority of lesser sites have no formal protection. More information on Scheduling can be found on the English Heritage website.

New sites are being discovered regularly but others are being destroyed by human and natural processes.