Final reporting for historical archaeology relics in NSW

Minimum requirements for Final Historical Archaeological Excavation Reports to disturb relics in NSW

Where an approval has been issued for disturbance of relics under the Heritage Act 1977 or any relevant planning consent in NSW, reporting of the results of the archaeological program is required in accordance with section 146(b) of the Heritage Act 1977.

Here are the minimum requirements for submission of the final excavation report:

The final excavation report must be submitted in electronic format to the Heritage Council of NSW. See the information below for the specific requirements for electronic lodgement.

The final report must be written by the approved Primary Excavation Director or Secondary Excavation Directors approved to conduct the archaeological program. Both Excavation Directors should prepare the report where they are approved to do the work.

The Applicant must lodge a copy with the local library and/or another appropriate local repository in the area in which the site is located.

The Applicant must ensure that the information presented in a final excavation report includes the following:

  1. An executive summary of the archaeological program
  2. Due credit to the client paying for the excavation, on the title page
  3. An accurate site location and site plan/s (with scale and north arrow) and including geo-referenced data; a clear plan showing the location of trenches etc excavated relative to known points/fixtures (e.g. building or property boundary). Plans must include levels reduced to the Australian Height Datum (AHD) for all features shown on scaled plans
  4. Historical research, references, and bibliography
  5. Detailed information on the excavation including the aim, the context for the excavation, procedures, treatment of artefacts (cleaning, conserving, sorting, cataloguing, labelling, scale photographs, drawings, location of repository) and analysis of the information retrieved;
  6. Nominated repository for the items
  7. Detailed response to research questions (at minimum those stated in the Heritage Council approved Research Design)
  8. Conclusions from the archaeological program. This information must include a reassessment of the site’s heritage significance; statement(s) on how archaeological investigations at this site have contributed to the community’s understanding of the relics identified; recommendations for the future management of the site and how much of the site remains undisturbed;
  9. Relevant comparative analysis to inform the significance of the site based on the significant archaeology
  10. Details of how this information about this excavation has been publicly disseminated (for example, provide details about Public Open Days and include copies of press releases, public brochures and information signs produced to explain the archaeological significance of the site).

Requirements for lodging digital historical archaeological final excavation reports

In 2019 Heritage NSW undertook a program of digitisation of grey literature contained within the Heritage NSW library. The aim of the project was to make the library more publicly accessible.

The library contains an important collection of archaeological reports including archaeological assessments, research designs and excavation methodologies, and final archaeological reports. Many of these were triggered by conditions of consent issued for approvals to manage ‘relics’ under the Heritage Act 1977. 

To ensure customer access to library documents, rapid retrievability and consistency with current Heritage NSW electronic file systems, from now on please provide PDF documents for electronic lodgement via email according to the requirements below. 

Please note: where an Application has been assessed and approved via the Heritage Management System, the final excavation report will need to be lodged via the HMS rather than than emailing it to Heritage NSW. If however, there are difficulties with lodgement via HMS (e.g. due to size constraints) please lodge the document/s via and respond to the condition via the HMS system. This can be done with advice that the condition has been met by lodging the final report directly with Heritage NSW. 

Each part of the submission needs to be in a separate document and the maximum file size which can be emailed is 20MB. Files that exceed this email limit can be submitted using Dropbox.

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File size capacity is based on existing systems which may change. If a change occurs Heritage NSW will update these requirements.

Final Report (main document)

Individual parts or volumes should be separated.


  1. Artefacts reports (by category where relevant) and Artefact catalogue
  2. Context sheets and context register
  3. Photo log and images separated into parts e.g. Photos 1-20; Photos 21 – 40 etc *
  4. Plans and plan register (including Harris Matrix)
  5. Survey data (if not included in plan data)

Images *

Submit image files in a separate folder in jpg format with a file size no larger than 1000 x 800 jpgs.

The submission of photos as jpg files, needed to satisfy requirements of archival recordings under permit conditions, should be added in a separate folder and identified as an archival record (not for accessioning into the library). These files cannot exceed 1GB. They may not be accessible via the Library catalogue but may be retrieved if needed by contacting an archaeologist at Heritage NSW. 

Approvals issued to disturb relics also contain specific requirement linked to the final reporting which requires that ‘all digital resources (including reports, context and artefact data, scanned field notes, other datasets and documentation) should be lodged with a sustainable, online and open-access repository’. This requirement remains and is separate to the lodgement of the s146 final reporting requirements of the Act.

Submissions outside of these requirements may not be accepted and may be returned for amendment before being accepted.

Reports on archaeological investigations held in the Heritage NSW library

The Heritage NSW library holds copies of many interim and final reports completed as part of archaeological investigations. These reports may be viewed by appointment only at the Heritage NSW Library.

Note: the list below is not exhaustive as it does not include all excavations completed before 2000, or reports currently under review. If you cannot find your site listed, please contact Heritage NSW to check.

You can also view archaeology final reports at your local council library. A copy of each final report submitted to Heritage NSW is lodged with the relevant council.

In addition to final reports, the Heritage NSW Library also holds copies of archaeological studies (archaeological assessments, conservation management plans etc) completed for NSW councils, organisations and private companies.