The Secretary of State has powers to designate an area as an AAI or ‘Area of Archaeological Importance’ under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (as amended).
There are currently five areas designated in England, the historic city centres of:
Not all areas are covered by the Area of Archaeological Importance (AAI) so please check maps on each local authority website.
Designation helps to prevent important archaeological sites from being damaged or destroyed without at least allowing for some investigation and recording first. It is an offence under the Act to undertake any operations within a designated Area of Archaeological Importance which may disturb the ground, or flood any site, or tip upon any site, without giving the administering authority six weeks’ notice of the commencement of those operations.
The unauthorised use of metal detectors in an AAI is an offence.
There is no separate consent required and the granting (or otherwise) of planning permission should not be affected simply because the proposed work falls within such an Area of Archaeological Importance (AAI).
You will be required to give notice to the local authority before you start work. Usually there will be a six-week period after the notice is served that allows the site to be investigated prior to work commencing.
If you are working in any of the areas above, follow the respective links to each local authority to establish how to contact them in accordance with the act. Please remember the six week notice period before you dig.
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