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Historic England Resources for Researchers

Here you can find some of the key Historic England resources that researchers can use.

Our reference collections

Historic England has a number of reference collections accessible to researchers

Zooarchaeological reference collection

We hold a collection of around 3100 skeletons; approximately 110 species of mammals, 210 species of birds, 50 species of fish, and some reptiles and amphibians. Visit our Zooarchaeology page to download the reference collection list and to find further details on how to access the collection.

Archaeobotanical reference collection

Our archaeobotanical seed collection currently includes around 4500 specimens of seeds and fruits of mainly British species. We also hold collections of wood and charcoal, charred tubers, mosses and slides of animal and plant fibres. Visit our Archaeobotany page to download the seed reference collection catalogue and to find further details on how to access the collection.

Human skeletal remains reference collection

We are responsible for collections of archaeological human skeletal remains, representing about 5000 individuals.  They are all from England and mainly date to the Roman and medieval periods.  Visit our Human Osteology page for details on how to access the collection.

Intertidal and coastal peat database

We curate a national Intertidal and Coastal Peat database, which details the known sites and the extent of peat deposits around the English coastline and includes their location, nature, age and related archaeology.

Two scientists examining amimal bones
Zooarchaeologists Polydora Baker and Fay Worley using part of the Historic England Zooarchaeology Reference Collection. © Historic England Steven Baker, image reference DP184469

Sharing resources and equipment

As a member of the National Heritage Science Forum we enable collaboration by listing resources on the NHSF kit-catalogue; indicating which items are available for sharing or external use, and under what circumstances.
As well as specific equipment this may also include use of our skeleton preparation facility and flotation and wet-sieving laboratory under certain circumstances.

Historic England research reports database

Our Research Report series includes research carried out by Historic England as well as work we have funded other organisations to carry out on our behalf. Reports are downloadable for free as PDFs from the database.

The Historic England Archive & Library

The Historic England Archive holds major collections of national importance, covering archaeology, architecture, social and local history. Our collections include photographs, drawings, plans and documents.

  • We hold files on over 70,000 individual buildings such as: reports, including sales particulars, survey notes, drawings and photographs and hold over 56,000 architectural drawings, including plans, elevations, sketches and watercolours. We also hold over 60,000 plans and drawings of English Heritage properties.
  • We are one of the largest photographic archives in the country, with over nine million photographs documenting the historic environment of England. These include historic collections, aerial photography, survey photography and specialist collections.
  • Our reference library holds over 60,000 books, journals and reports covering all aspects of the historic environment, including Pevsner’s Buildings of England series; Victoria County History; selected Post Office and Kelly’s Directories and RCHME Inventory volumes. We add 1,000 new titles each year, and we have around 400 current journal subscriptions.

As well as using our online resources, our researchers are welcome to visit our Search Room and Library in Swindon, Wiltshire.

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Also of interest...

  • photograph of archaeological animal bones

    Zooarchaeology

    Zooarchaeologists study archaeological animal bones. We develop methods, conduct analyses and curate a modern comparative collection

  • Photograph of a crop being harvested in Wiltshire

    Archaeobotany

    Archaeobotanists study archaeological plant remains. We develop methods, conduct analyses and curate modern comparative collections

  • A triple burial dating to the Roman period, being excavated at Stanwick, Northamptonshire.

    Human Osteoarchaeology

    Osteoarchaeologists study archaeological human bones. We offer advice, conduct research and curate collections of Roman and medieval remains

  • Image showing experts taking samples of wood from a roof truss in Kirby Hall

    Research Reports

    Our Research Report series includes research carried out by Historic England (formerly English Heritage) and on our behalf by other organisations.

  • Colour photograph of Battersea Power Station 2013.

    Archive Services

    Find out about the services offered by our Archive.