Gloucester Urban Archaeological Database (the UAD): A Demonstration
Phil Greatorex and Richard Sermon
Projects Officer (Urban Archaeological Database), Gloucester City Archaeologist
Gloucester Archaeology Unit
For the last two years the staff of Gloucester Archaeology Unit have been compiling and developing the UAD, a project jointly funded by Gloucester City Council and English Heritage. The UAD is a GIS system utilising Mapinfo v.6 and Access 97. Primarily designed as a planning tool, to help in determining the archaeological impact a proposed development may have, the UAD is already revealing its potential as a research tool, even in these early stages.
In essence the UAD is a computerised version of the entire archaeological archive for the district of Gloucester superimposed as findspots onto a digital map of the area. This allows archived data to be retrieved in a number of different ways:
By selecting an individual findspot directly from the map, and displaying the database entry for that site.
By selecting all findspots within a given area, producing a database representing all of the selected sites in numerical order.
By typing in the site code or address, thus displaying the database entry and findspot.
Also displayed on the base map are monument classifications, full
references to published works, listed buildings, scheduled ancient
monuments, overlays of all known historic maps of the City and
(currently under development) overlays of original site plans in their
actual locations which can be displayed, and printed, at a scale of 1:1
The work with site plans is deliberately focused on original site drawings, without the usual interpretation encountered in published versions, to allow for easier reinterpretation, if necessary, in the light of later work.
This is already proving to be an invaluable use for the UAD, even in these early stages, as the records from sites thought to be previously unconnected are now readily accessible without having to refer to a pre-interpreted published account.
This is not to say that previous interpretations are incorrect, of course, but the ability to access original material allows a much more objective view to be taken for the interpretation of current site work. These benefits aside, as mentioned previously, the UAD is primarily a planning tool and it is here that the power of the system is more than paying it's way in terms of assessment accuracy and turn-around time. Whereas, previously, a full planning search and desktop study for a given application may have taken a week, or more, to complete, by using the UAD this process can be shortened to less than an hour from receiving the application to printing the final, illustrated, document.