Research tips and advice


Research is the first step of any archaeological investigation, to find out everything you can about an area or site. There are several places to start your journey, including right here on the Suffolk Heritage Explorer website.

The Suffolk Historic Environment Record and Online Suffolk Heritage Explorer

The Historic Environment Record (known as the HER) is a collection of information about the known archaeological sites in Suffolk. The main HER inventory for Suffolk is held in a database and on a digital map by Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service. They also hold supplementary information, such as plans, photographs, drawings and reports.

You can explore the online abridged version of the HER database and the interactive map on the Suffolk Heritage Explorer website.


We recommend that academic, professional and commercial projects commission a full HER search, for further information visit our corporate website. The online database is unsuitable for use in the planning process, see our guidance.


Documentary Research

Published articles, reports and historical documents or maps are also very important sources for researching a site or area.

Archaeological Publications and Reports

Archaeological investigations are usually written up into reports. The Suffolk Historic Environment Record holds a copy of all reports relating to Suffolk and they are also available online on the Archaeological Data Service.

The Archaeological Data Service is an open access digital archive for archaeological research and reports. You can search their database of journals, grey literature reports and projects.

The Proceedings of the Suffolk Institute of Archaeology and History is an annual publication, which publishes articles on the archaeology and history of Suffolk. It also includes Archaeology in Suffolk which lists all new archaeological discoveries annually. The archive is available on their website.

There are many other journals, monographs, newsletters and publications on various topics and historical periods. Some of these, relating to sites and archaeology in Suffolk, are listed in the Useful Resources section of this website.

Explore the Useful Resources section »



Local and national archives collect and hold a historical document, maps, plans, photographs and much more. Many also have a reference library of published books.

Suffolk Archives. You can search their online catalogue and visit the local record office in Ipswich.

The National Archives have a physical and online catalogue, as well as online guidance and resources.


Local Parish Histories

Local parish histories are also a good place to start. The ‘Survey of Suffolk Parish History’, first published in 1990, summarises every part of local history including administration, landscape, social, religious and economic characteristics, and covers a time span from the earliest archaeology to modern times. These are available online.

Explore the parish histories »


Other Online Resources

The Historic Landscape Characterisation is a tool displayed as a colour-coded digital map, which identifies and interprets the varying historic characters of an area to understand the whole landscape.

British History Online is a digital library of nearly 1300 volumes of primary and secondary sources, relating to British and Irish history, and histories of empire and the British world. There are also images and historic maps

Domesday Book is a detailed survey and valuation of landed property in England undertaken in 1085 and 1086 AD.

National Library of Scotland have an online map viewer with Ordnance Survey maps.

Google Earth have aerial photography for different years which are useful to identify landscape features and crop marks.

Virtual Aerial Map of England's Archaeology from the Air, by Historic England, shows the mapping of archaeological features and provides textual information for all monuments that have been identified using aerial photographs and other aerial sources by Historic England funded projects.

blue ink sketch of site location

Planning an archaeological project

guidance and templates

Discover More »

More Guides and Resources

links to other guides for further reading

Discover More »
people excavating a ring ditch

Responsible Archaeology

Return to main page

Discover More »