The first stage of advance works saw Headland undertaking several non-invasive archaeological surveys in 2012 along the road corridor, divided into four schemes (Northern, Southern, Fastlink and A90). The surveys involved a suite of different techniques aimed at establishing the potential for unknown archaeology to be present, as well as recording the known upstanding archaeological resource. The main component was a 520ha geophysical survey, one of the largest single surveys of its type undertaken in the UK in recent years. This was supplemented by topographic surveys, historic building surveys, field-walking and environmental coring, all undertaken by our in-house specialists. During the same period, we also provided an Archaeological Clerk of Works to the Ground Investigation contractor (Soil Engineering).
Following this, in 2013, invasive archaeological works began, designed to verify the results of the geophysical survey and identify areas of archaeological risk to be dealt with in advance of construction. Headland undertook the investigation for two of the largest sections of the scheme (Northern and Southern Legs). The site works were completed within a compressed 12-week period, and critically, all reporting was completed on time and budget, which allowed the mitigation stage of the works to be designed by the consultants.
The final stage of pre-construction work involved targeted topsoil stripping at 45 locations, amounting to over 105,000m³ of overburden being removed across 25 hectares. The works were designed to reduce the risk of unexpected archaeology during construction, and successfully mitigated the impact of the scheme on the archaeological resource.
Post-excavation work is currently in progress by our in-house specialists and publication team. A publication is due in 2016.
As Principal Contractor throughout the non-invasive and pre-construction stages, Headland took the lead on the management of a variety of operational issues. This included successfully agreeing access with over 100 landowners across the scheme, programming the work around crops and livestock to minimise disturbance to affected farmers, securing permissions from statutory bodies and utilities, co-ordinating the work of sub-specialists on the scheme such as GI contractors and ecologists, and all traffic management. Key to the success of the project was working very closely with the client’s consultants, Jacobs, designing appropriate methodologies to the sites under investigation as well as securing trusted sub-contractors (e.g plant, ecology) which helped us overcome challenges along the way.
Headland is currently providing a team of archaeologists to assist during the construction phase of the project. The team comprises a Principal ACoW with two support archaeologists, all of whom work directly with the Environmental Section of the Joint Venture Design Team. They advise on the mitigation strategy needed to ensure best practice is followed and monitor the ground works within the identified areas of risk.