Archaeology studies the physical survivals of human activity over thousands of years. From the camps of the early hunter gatherers 400,000 years ago to the early 20th century, it often provides the only insight into the activity and development of our ancestors. National guidance recognises archaeological remains as irreplaceable and part of our sense of national identity, valuable both for their own sake and for their role in education, leisure and tourism. Archaeological survivals are diverse and can vary enormously in their state of preservation. They include familiar 'upstanding' remains, such as stone circle formations and castle ruins, to more obscure survivals such as field systems, the buried remains of ancient settlements and of cultural or religious activity. Many buildings in older towns lie on top of Roman, Anglo-Saxon or medieval structures. Planning policy guidance Note 16 - archaeology and planning sets out national policy.
Nationally important archeological survivals are protected by being on a list of nationally important monuments, which is compiled by the Secretary of State. Anyone planning work on them must get scheduled monument consent. The Borough has six scheduled ancient monuments:
In addition to scheduled monuments, we have numerous identified sites and areas that could contain significant archaeological remains. An extensive urban survey of the historic towns of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight was undertaken by Hampshire County Council and funded by English Heritage between 1997 and 1999. The project provided an assessment of the development and archaeology of each town and guidance for future management. When determining applications for development, we are expected to take into account the possible presence of archaeology in identified areas. We get specialist advice about the impact of development from Hampshire County Council.