What is historical archaeology? Historical archaeology is the study of archaeological places associated with non-Aboriginal settlement and activity in Victoria. The Heritage Act 1995 specifies that an archaeological place or relic must be at least 50 years old. An historical archaeological site may include above-ground features such as ruins and below-ground features or deposits such as buried building foundations and objects. Above-ground structures, such as old houses, bridges, fences and stone walls, may have heritage value but in most cases are not considered to be archaeological sites. The structure must have an archaeological component. Why should we protect archaeological sites? Historical archaeological sites provide a unique physical record of Victoria’s development, and a context to the present. These sites are important because they increase our understanding of the past and contain information that cannot be learned from other sources. How are archaeological sites and artefacts protected in Victoria? All historical archaeological places and objects in Victoria are protected under the Heritage Act 1995. Section 127 of the Act specifies that it is an offence to disturb an historical archaeological site or relic unless approval has been given by the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria. Heritage Victoria administers the Act, and maintains the Victorian Heritage Inventory and Victorian Heritage Register. The Heritage Act applies to all historical archaeological sites in the State. Sites that are not known are also protected under the Heritage Act. What are the Victorian Heritage Register and Victorian Heritage Inventory? The Victorian Heritage Inventory is a list of all known historical archaeological sites and artefacts in Victoria, regardless of its level of significance. Currently, over 7,000 historical archaeological sites are on the Heritage Inventory. However, not all sites in the State have been identified and recorded. Sites that are not known are also protected under the Heritage Act. The Heritage Inventory contains information about individual archaeological places including a description of the site, place history, location details, and significance assessment. The Inventory data is an important resource for developers, local government authorities, government departments, private owners, archaeologists and researchers. In cases where a place does not have physical evidence of archaeology but historical documentation, images or maps indicate that a site previously existed, it may be listed for its potential to contain buried artefacts and sub-surface features. This is called archaeological potential. Places of archaeological potential are common in urban or regional centres. The Victorian Heritage Register is a list of non-Indigenous cultural places, objects and collections that are significant to the State of Victoria. The Heritage Register includes buildings, objects, collections, avenues of honour and landscapes. Currently there are over 2,000 places and objects on the Heritage Register. Much of the information can be viewed through the Victorian Heritage Database at www.heritage.vic.gov.au. Are historical archaeological sites protected by other legislation? There are a few other ways a site can also be protected in Victoria. Under the Planning and Environment Act 1987, local councils can also protect archaeological sites which are considered to be important to the local community. This is done through inclusion of the sites in the Heritage Overlay under the Local Government Planning Scheme. The Commonwealth Government maintains two lists for places considered to be of significance to Australia. The National Heritage List is a register of places considered to have outstanding historic, Aboriginal, and/or natural heritage values. The Commonwealth Heritage List is a register of significant Commonwealth-owned places. Heritage places can be on one or both lists. Places identified on these Lists are protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, which is administered by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts www.environment.gov.au. How are Aboriginal archaeological sites protected? The protection and management of non-historical archaeological sites and artefacts is addressed under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006, which is administered by Aboriginal Affairs Victoria www.aboriginalaffairs.vic.gov.au. Archaeological sites and artefacts that relate to contact and shared activity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities, such as mission sites, are regarded as both Aboriginal sites and historical archaeological sites and are protected by both the Heritage Act and the Aboriginal Heritage Act. Do I need permission to disturb an historical archaeological site? Yes. It is necessary to obtain the approval of the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria to authorise the disturbance of any historical archaeological site. Consents to Excavate and Consents to Damage can be given for sites listed on the Heritage Inventory, and Permits are given for historical archaeological places on the Heritage Register. Applications for consents and permits can be downloaded from the Heritage Victoria website, along with the fee schedule. Who can conduct an excavation? Consents and permits for archaeological work, such as excavations, are only issued to qualified and appropriately experienced archaeologists. A directory of Archaeological Consultants can be found on the Heritage Victoria Ann Jones Inn, Glenrowan How do I know if a place may contain a historical archaeological site? A preliminary, and quick, search can be conducted by anyone on the Victorian Heritage Database on our website. Further information can be obtained from the Heritage Victoria’s Archaeology Team at email@example.com. If there is no known listed site, it is still important to do an initial investigation (desktop study) as early as possible, to establish if a site has archaeological values or potential. Some factors that may indicate the possible existence of archaeological remains include if the place: • contains ruins or scatters of historic objects; • is within a known historic area, historic precinct or historic settlement; • is near, or associated with, a known archaeological site • is or was associated with a long occupation history ; • has corresponding maps, historic sources or oral records indicating previous activity; • has had no known below-ground disturbance; • has physical characteristics indicating below-ground features, such as shapes in the landscape or other formations; or • contains remnant introduced vegetation, such as fruit trees. If development or excavation activities are planned for a place, it is recommended that the archaeological values and archaeological potential be assessed as early as possible to avoid delays during works. How can I conduct an investigation into the history of a place? Historical research can be conducted through local resources such as the library, local historical society and in some cases the internet. More detailed research should be carried out by heritage professionals. In some cases it may be necessary for an archaeologist to conduct a test excavation. A directory of heritage and archaeological consultants can be obtained from the Heritage Victoria website. Will the discovery of historical archaeological deposits or features prevent building or development? It is very rare for the discovery of historical archaeology to stop development taking place. If an archaeological site or artefacts are found on a building site it may be necessary for recording or monitoring to take place. For more complex sites, an archaeological excavation and detailed recording may be required. Any discoveries must be reported to Heritage Victoria, who will then advise on the next step. Can I disturb or excavate a site that is on my land? Under the terms of the Heritage Act it is an offence to disturb any historical archaeological site unless approval is obtained from the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria, regardless of the ownership of the land. Activities, such as digging for bottles, coins or other artefacts, that involve the disturbance of archaeological sites is a breach of the Heritage Act. Can I remove objects from a site that I own? Removing artefacts from an archaeological site without the consent of the Executive Director of Heritage Victoria is also breach of the Act. What happens to any artefacts found during an excavation? Heritage Victoria has an Artefact Conservation Agreement System that requires the party responsible for the disturbance and recovery of artefacts (owner or land manager) to contribute towards the cost of conservation, management and storage. The amount of the bond is determined by Heritage Victoria using a formula that assesses the level of significance, size of the site and expected number of artefacts. Payment of the bond is required prior to the start of works. Regardless of the significance of the archaeological site or amount of artefacts recovered, only the specified amount of the bond is required to be paid. If the artefacts do not require the full bond amount, the remainder, less a 20% levy, is returned upon completion of the conservation program. Who do I contact with further questions? Heritage Victoria’s Archaeology Team can assist with any queries. The contact details are firstname.lastname@example.org or 03 8644 8800. Further information can be found on the Heritage Victoria website at www.heritage.vic.gov.au. Any personal information about you or a third party in your correspondence will be collected, held, managed, used, disclosed or transferred in accordance with the provisions of the Information Privacy Act 2000 (Vic) and applicable laws. Enquiries about access to information about you held by the Department should be directed to the Privacy Officer, Department of Planning and Community Development, PO Box 2392, Melbourne, VIC 3001. Notwithstanding the above, please note that information provided to enable the administration of the Heritage Act 1995 may be disclosed to persons with an interest in the heritage place or object particularly, and information provided as part of a permit application may be made available on-line where the application has been publicly advertised under section 68 of the Heritage Act 1995.