Archaeology in the Institute of Historical Research Library

Works on archaeology can be found in a number of the library’s collections ranging from books on the theory of archaeology and material culture, reports on specific excavations sites to a range of journals found physically in the library or accessible electronically from the library’s PCs.

The majority of works on archaeology can be found in the library’s British collections (General British: classmark B, English Local: classmark BC, Ireland: classmark BI, London: classmark BL, Scotland: classmark BS and Wales: classmark BW). Some works, however, can be found in the libraries European collections, including our French, German and Spanish collections.

Also, since the overall collection policy of the library concentrates on medieval history onwards the great majority of archaeological works concentrate on the post-500 AD period. At the end of this guide, however, there is a list of other institutions in London with significant library holdings on archaeology, covering all periods and geographic regions.

Selected Themes within the Archaeology Collection

General Works

Selection of Archaeology General Works

English Local

The English Local History collection is broken down into counties and other areas under the classmarks BC.5—9. The archaeological books within these sections can range from extensive records of the city of Bristol, providing data and detail to support archaeological inquiries into the city’s history, to the history of a particular castle, such as Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire. There are also many county specific archaeological journals, magazines, and collections held within the library.

For example:


Archaeology of London

The sections on the archaeology of London can be found under classmarks BL.41 and BL.525-7 which cover the archaeology of Greater London and Middlesex and the City of London respectively. Many of these are connected to or published by the Museum of London Archaeology Service, as either site reports or guides to excavations. The Library also holds an extensive collection of maps which depict the topography of the city of London at different stages of its history.

For example:


Archaeology of Ireland

Scottish Local

The Scottish collection contains several works relating to archaeology, in particular at a local level and for specific reports of excavations. The Scottish Burgh Survey series contains a number of volumes documenting specific towns with each volume outlining the geography and topography of the town, its known archaeology and history and its historic standing buildings. These can be found within the Scottish Local classification scheme under the classmark BSL.

For example:


Welsh Archaeology








Journals and Electronic Resources


Electronic Resources:

Please note that access to these resources is available onsite at the IHR, or offsite for staff and students of the IHR only. 

Related IHR Collections

There is a significant body of supporting sources and general works within the wider collection. Within the library's General History (E) holdings there are several books of archaeological theory, as well as secondary literature. The Byzantine (EV) and Crusades (EU) collections also contain relevant holdings, while the library's significant Maps collection (M) provides an excellent resource in particular for the study of London and its surrounding counties.

Related Libraries and Institutions

The Society of Antiquaries Library situated in Burlington House is the oldest archaeological research library in the UK.  It holds more than 130,000 books dating from the 15th century to the present and over 600 current periodicals, over 1,000 manuscripts and also 40,000 prints and drawings of British topography and antiquities.  Subjects covered include not only British and European archaeology, but also architectural history, decorative arts, heraldry, numismatics and genealogy. The library of the Royal Archaeological Institute was donated to the Society of Antiquaries and now forms part of the collection. 

The Institute of Archaeology within University College London has an extensive library containing both theoretical archaeological works as well as site reports. Founded in 1937 the library contains the Yates Classical Archaeology Library and the Edwards Egyptology Library. The Museum of London Archaeology (MOLA) resource library is also an invaluable resource, containing unpublished reports, ceramic codes and searchable bibliograhic article references.

Senate House Library and Birkbeck libraries both have excellent archaeology sections. For archaeological works relating to the classical period the Institute of Classical Studies has a large collection of holdings.

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