Our History

Our vision has always been to create a business that employs talented and commercially-aware people, who can bring knowledge and quality to the delivery of business-focused archaeology.

The Vision

Headland Archaeology was founded in 1996 by four like-minded archaeologists. We were all working in archaeology at the time, in a market being supplied by the not-for-profit sector – charities, local authorities, universities and museums. New planning policies and guidance radically changed the industry in the early 1990s, and we saw an opportunity to create a totally new approach to the heritage industry – a commercial business focused on clients’ needs, servicing the development and construction sectors.

We wanted a business that put the clients’ needs first, that understood the requirements and challenges of getting a development through planning and subsequently, controlling the risks – time and cost – of dealing with archaeology.

We also wanted to build a business which offered career opportunities to our staff, a chance to grow and develop with the company and to continually learn new skills. We wanted our people and our clients to be at the core of what Headland was about.

We are well on our way to achieving our vision and continue to strive for the same ideals as the day we started all those years ago.

The Journey

The journey began in an old lemonade factory, in Edinburgh in 1996. Within two years we had won the contract to excavate the site of the New Scottish Parliament, Holyrood. This was the first of many £1m plus contracts the company has successfully completed.

We had established links with Ireland and wanted to grow our business there too. Our first Irish office was opened near Cork and we immediately began work on what was to become a string of large road schemes across Ireland. At the same time, we had outgrown the old lemonade factory and moved to what is still our Head Office in Jane Street, Edinburgh. In 2007 the Irish office moved to larger premises, with a second office opening in Galway to support major road projects in the region.  2007 and 2008 saw the company simultaneously undertaking the £5m M74 Completion Scheme, the £3m A1 and A4/5 in Northern Ireland and several road schemes across Ireland.

In 2008, after 12 years of year on year growth, we restructured the company to reflect the maturity of the business, the range of services we were now offering and the multiple offices we were working from. The original Headland Archaeology Ltd became Headland Group Ltd with two subsidiaries, the newly formed Headland Archaeology (UK) Ltd and Headland Archaeology (Ireland) Ltd.

In 2010 Headland Group acquired Archaeological Investigations Ltd based in Hereford which subsequently became our Midlands and West regional office. The following year we opened our South and East regional office in Leighton Buzzard, moving to larger premises at Silsoe, near Luton, the following year.

In 2012 Headland Archaeology (Ireland) Ltd was released from the group in a management buyout. The next year saw the South and East office move to even larger premises at Silsoe, in Bedfordshire.

In 2015 we opened our newest office in Leeds to complete our UK coverage. We now have regional offices in Luton, Hereford, Leeds and Edinburgh.

In 2017 we announced our consortium ‘MOLA Headland Infrastructure’ created in partnership with MOLA which combines our expertise in order to specifically bid for the delivery of archaeological and heritage services to large, world-class infrastructure projects. Read more about the consortium here.

In 2019, Headland Archaeology was officially acquired by RSK Group Ltd, the UK’s leading environmental, engineering and technical services business. With this acquisition, Headland has become part of RSK’s environment and planning division while the existing RSK archaeology and heritage business has merged with Headland’s consultancy team. This move will further enhance our business, enable us to build on our strengths and provide our staff with new opportunities.

What lies ahead?

Headland has grown to be a national provider of heritage services, one of the top five in the UK and the foremost privately-owned business in the sector.

We are still anchored to our original vision, and we continue to innovate and change in order to stay ahead.  We apply the latest technological advances to our work in the field, predict future work and trends and develop new products and services – all designed to keep one step ahead of the market and to focus on the needs of our clients.

We work with clients on projects of all sizes, and have built a reputation for delivering on large infrastructure projects. We have a great team spirit, great people and great resources, and we will continue to grow and build on what we have achieved so far.

We have always recognised the need to balance the commercial considerations  – meeting deadlines, value for money and good customer service –  with the cultural side of the heritage sector, training and career progression, research time and quality of care of the heritage environment. We believe we are defining that balance within the industry and will continue to do so.

Headland’s vision to be the foremost private heritage service provider in the UK is now a reality and we intend to stay ahead of the game.