Assessing the impact of trench arch drainage systems on archaeological remains in churchyards

Oxford Archaeology was commissioned by Historic England to assess the potential risk to buried archaeological remains as a result of the installation of trench arch drainage systems in churchyards. The project was primarily desk-based and involved gathering information on different designs of trench arch drainage systems; collecting data on the prevalence of these systems in different dioceses and the reasons for their installation; and identifying examples where installation has resulted in physical impacts to archaeological remains. The project provides an assessment of the expected risks from installation and use of these systems.

Employing in-house archaeologists and specialists in human osteology, GIS, heritage management and environmental archaeology, OA worked in consultation with experts in the degradation of archaeological human bone and objects from the Department of Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford, a specialist in the construction and design of trench arch systems, and a diocesan archaeological adviser.

The final report will be used by Historic England when advising on faculty applications, and help others involved in decisions made under the Ecclesiastical Exemption and secular planning system. Future guidance will draw on thisproject, to meet the overall aim of achieving a balance between conserving heritage and continuing to promote the use of churches by the community in the long term.

Click here to download a copy of the report