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Shropshire Archives reopens in a phased way from Wednesday 29 July

Shropshire’s Historic Environment Record

May 6, 20209:08 amLeave a Comment

Stay safe: research archaeological sites and historic buildings at home with Shropshire’s Historic Environment Record

Shropshire’s Historic Environment Record (HER) is a continuously developing database, compiling, indexing and making available information on the varied historic environment of Shropshire – it’s archaeological sites, finds and features, historic buildings, structures and landscapes.

The HER is based within the Historic Environment Team, usually based at Shirehall. It is underpinned by a large collection of research material, compiled over the last 40 years, and increasingly held digitally.

Our focus is on the physical remains of the past – therefore the records we hold complement and augment the records held by Shropshire Archives, providing rich detail on the social, economic, personal, political and landscape history of the county.

Our records are diverse – reflecting the diversity of the historic environment of Shropshire. We  do record well-known and spectacular sites – the Iron Age hillforts or Medieval Castles that the Marches are rightly famed for, for instance. However, many of our records relate to less well-known archaeological sites and vernacular historic buildings. Recent additions, for instance, relate to prehistoric flint scatters, 19th century industrial archaeology, physical remains of the WW2 Home Front…or even a 1960s Power Station! Research is a continuous process with new sites, buildings and finds regularly identified, as well as new research being conducted into those already known about. Investigation is often undertaken through the planning process.

These all create resources which are all made available through the HER.

You can find out much more about what we record, and the information we hold, in our User Policy.

We know that readers of this blog may be aware of the HER through our presence on the Discovering Shropshire’s History website, but as we curate such a wide range of information, we’ve put together some guidance to make the most of our digital records. We hope that this provides a useful starting point for undertaking your research on local archaeology and history, from home.

The HER Officer is continuing to work at this time, and can advise on what further information we can supply digitally – just email [email protected]

Getting started with the HER on Discovering Shropshire’s History

Discovering Shropshire’s History provides access to key collections related to the heritage of Shropshire – thousands of records from Shropshire Archives, museum collections around the county, local history resources, alongside the Historic Environment Record.

To start searching go to the Discovering Shropshire’s History, go to the advanced search page: http://search.shropshirehistory.org.uk/collections/search/advanced/

First, to just search the HER, select Shropshire Sites and Monuments Records from the Partner dropdown.

You are then able to search by:

Title/Description – try searching by a property or site name. Use quotation marks to search for an exact phrase

Preview(opens in a new tab)

Place – try searching for a parish or town name. Caution: you may get a lot of records within urban areas – the better option is to use the map search – see below.

Times/Periods – this allows you to search by archaeological or historic period. Examples include Neolithic, Bronze Age or 18th century.

Subject/keyword – search for a particular type of monument or find type. You can use quotation marks, with OR to search for either word/phrase.

Map Search

If you are conducting research into a particular area, you will want to make use of the interactive Map Search.

The map search provides access to data from the HER, and includes where we hold digital photographs for these records. Archaeological finds, sites and buildings are usually represented by a single point. We hold much more extensive mapped information in our master database – so please do not hesitate to contact us if you need more information.

The map provides tools to zoom in (top left) and pan (left-click and drag with your mouse) around the county. You can also change the base mapping – click on Base Layers to view different base maps and aerial photography. You can also view the information overlaid on Historic Maps – complemented by other sources which are available online (see below).

Once you have found a record that you wish to investigate further, just click on it, and then follow the link in the pop-up box that appears.

Understanding individual records

Each individual record will provide you with summary information, and give details of the sources used to compile that record:

Click to enlarge

If you want to follow up any of these sources, please contact [email protected] – don’t forget to include the HER number of the record that you are interested in.

Some useful sources for research

The information used to compile our records comes from a wide range of sources. We recommend contacting us so we can advise on what might be available digitally. However, there are a few useful starting points for further research:

General background research

  • The Victoria County History or VCH is a national project to write the authoritative local history of every English Place. Many of the key Shropshire volumes are available online. See the VCH Shropshire website for more information.
  • Many of the Transactions of Shropshire Archaeological and Historical Society are now available digitally. See the blog entry here for more details and how to access.
  • If you are interested in Shropshire’s landscape and how it has developed over time, the Historic Landscape Characterisation is a great place to start.

Individual sites or buildings

  • Where a building is Listed, an archaeological site is Scheduled or a park and garden is Registered, you should consult the National Heritage List for England for the official citation. Many newer entries include photographs.
  • Where a building is or local or regional interest, the HER collections will often hold unique material. Photographs, in particular, can be accessed via the Shropshire Archives catalogue.
  • The HER collections are often available digitally – please contact us to find out more. Our collections include many historic photographs, plans, survey reports, aerial photographs…amongst much more!
Some of the many thousands of sources held by the HER, a significant number available digitally.

Archaeological and historic building investigation

Historic maps

The medieval layout of Clun, as evident on the 1903 2nd edition Ordnance Survey mapping, via the National Library of Scotland website.

Historic Maps are a fantastic tool for archaeological and historic research. They provide an understanding of the way that places have changed over the last few centuries, in particular.

  • Shropshire Archives have a good collection of historic maps for the county, some of which are available online through their catalogue. Highlights include pre-19th century estate maps and tithe mapping (with transcriptions by HDG Foxall).
  • The National Library for Scotland maintain an excellent portal to 19th and 20th century Ordnance Survey mapping. Start exploring their collection.
  • Old Maps Online contains a set of very useful links to pre-Ordnance Survey mapping in Shropshire, held digitally by, for example, the British Library.

LiDAR

Earthworks of a cross-ridge dyke on Stapeley Hill, as revealed by LiDAR imagery. © Environment Agency copyright and/or database right 2019. All rights reserved.

LiDAR, Light information Detection and Ranging, is a technology that is revolutionising study of earthwork remains of archaeological sites. In a nusthell, it allows us to produce 3D-models of the Shropshire landscape. We can often spot features such as earthwork castles, hillforts, Medieval agriculture and mining remains.
This is presented as a ‘hillshade’ which highlights these earthwork features – a key source for identifying archaeological earthwork features in the HER.

  • The Stiperstones and Corndon Landscape Partnership scheme collected a detailed LiDAR model for the scheme area in South West Shropshire. This is available via the ‘Layered Landscapes’ website.
  • Other LiDAR data is available via the Environment Agency on the HousePrices Map website.

Get in touch

Hopefully, this has given you an introduction on how to access the resources that the HER holds, digitally, and remotely. However, we are happy to hear from those who may have additional queries, or have a site or feature which they hold information on.

Please email [email protected] or ‘phone 01743 254619 for further information.

Written by HER Officer - Modified by sarahd

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