About the Historic Environment Record


In addition to information on archaeological and historical sites and structures, the HER also incorporates collections of photographs (including aerial photos), maps, plans and surveys, and an extensive reference library. The HER is maintained and updated in accordance with national heritage information standards and guidance.

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Information in the HER is derived from a variety of sources including fieldwork, surveys and excavations, published and unpublished books and pamphlets, specialist journals, antiquarian authors, museum records, and information sent in by members of the public. A recording form is available for new submissions to the record.

The record can be used in a variety of ways including:

  • Advancing knowledge and understanding of the historic environment;
  • Supporting management and conservation of sites and landscapes
  • Underpinning strategic policies for the protection of the historic environment
  • Supporting decision-making in local authority land-use planning systems;
  • Contributing to environmental improvement and economic regeneration schemes;
  • Contributing to education and social inclusion and; 
  • Encouraging the exploration, appreciation and enjoyment of the historic environment.

The level of detail and the accuracy of the information held on each site reflects the nature or content of the sources used to compile the record. With over 57,000 records in the Historic Buildings, Sites and Monuments dataset it has been possible to verify the information 'on the ground' in only a small percentage of sites.

The HER plays a key role in providing the information base for recommendations made by the Historic Environment Advice and Conservation Advice Officers in response to planning applications and other proposals. The information provides a starting point for management processes, conservation (such as forming the basis for the selection of sites where improved management regimes or repair work would be beneficial), fieldwork and research into the historic environment and also informs local communities about their area. In turn, many of these activities generate new information which feeds back to the HER.

What began as a series of separate (usually paper-based) systems to meet particular needs has evolved into a system of related digital data sets compiled to current heritage information standards which can be displayed against a variety of base maps. The Historic Environment Record records the following types of information:

  • Historic Landscape Characterisation
  • Sites, Monuments and Buildings Records
  • Events and Investigations
  • Artefacts
  • Aerial and ground photographs
  • Plans and Surveys
  • Heritage Designations