Heritage at Risk: Archaeology

Partnership and collaboration is often key to the future of scheduled sites and protected wrecks. The partners involved include owners and land managers, Historic England and a wide range of external stakeholders, local authorities and local amenity groups, with volunteer involvement an increasingly positive trend.

Historic England's primary role is to establish a dialogue with those who look after listed archaeology and wreck sites. This is provided through practical advice, guidance on funding, and – where appropriate – our own grant aid.

Often when we consider what ‘archaeology’ traditionally means to us, the first picture that comes to mind is that of excavations taking place in open fields or urban developments. Many archaeological sites are discovered, excavated and protected on land, whilst others are based within more challenging locations, such as in areas of water; including inlets, rivers, inter-tidal coastal zones and deep within the sea.

Geophysical survey of Roman villa revealing multiple buried features, including areas of damage caused by badgers
This Roman villa near Lechlade, Gloucestershire, has been removed from the Register in 2018 after a number of years of being at risk. It lies on a slight raised island in the floodplain of a tributary of the River Thames. The geophysical survey in the image above shows the remains below ground, and extensive damage caused by badgers. Historic England addressed the issue of badger damage by providing grant aid to the landowners and working in conjunction with Natural England under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme. © Archaeoscan/Gloucestershire County Council

Managing the differing needs of these sites in their variety of wetland and dryland environments is challenging but very rewarding. There are many innovative and well-developed methods for managing dry and wet archaeological sites. One important way of managing and protecting the most significant areas, is to list sites.

Most monuments need simple care or maintenance to make sure that they survive in good condition for future generations to enjoy. The work and goodwill of thousands of owners who help this to happen play a vital part in securing our heritage.

In some cases however, more extensive repair work may be needed, and in these circumstances Historic England can help with feasibility studies, specifications and advice.

Grants from other public sources, notably Natural England (who administer the Countryside Stewardship Scheme) and the Heritage Lottery Fund, also have a vital role to play in helping to preserve our most precious monuments for future generations.

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