Clifford Castle, Clifford, Hay-On-Wye, Herefordshire. General view of motte and keep, lit at twilight, view from east

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The remains of the Norman castle at Clifford, Hay-On-Wye, Herefordshire, were stabilised in 2018 and the site was removed from the West Midlands HAR Register after 20 years of being at risk © Historic England DP220711

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, intertidal coastal zones and deep within the sea.

View over a grass topped cliff towards a beach, buildings and fields disappearing in mist in the distance.
The cliff castle at Gunwalloe, Cornwall is at risk from coastal erosion with the rampart of the prehistoric defences an upstanding earthwork feature which will be lost in time. The monument forms part of a collaborative study with Exeter University to examine the increased potential threat of climate change and the challenges for communities to respond and adapt © Historic England. Photographed by John Ette

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.

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 along with the Rural Payments Agency administer the Countryside Stewardship Scheme) and the National Lottery Heritage Fund, also have a vital role to play in helping to preserve our most precious monuments for future generations.

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