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Surveying and Recording Heritage

Historic England produces technical advice on how to survey historic places to the best standard possible. This section provides an introduction to our technical advice.

Click on the quick links to guidance here:

or find out more about each guidance theme below. Please note free PDF downloads are also available by clicking on each guidance publication.

Metric Survey Specifications for Cultural Heritage

This document contains both descriptions and illustrations of the required standard and its important constituent parts such as data capture, selection and presentation.

Sections 1 - 3 describe the general terms, performance and presentation requirements common to all services.

Sections 4 - 8 contain standards specific to image-based survey, measured building survey, topographic survey ,  laser scanning and Building Information Modelling (BIM) respectively. 

Metric Survey Specifications for Cultural Heritage

Metric Survey Specifications for Cultural Heritage

Published 15 September 2015

A revised and updated third edition of specifications widely used by heritage professionals throughout the historic environment sector.

£50.00

Measuring and Sensing

Laser Scanninng

  • Part 1 introduces laser scanning technologies and how to use them
  • Part 2 contains a series of case studies showing laser scanning in application. (2nd Edition).

We are currently working on the third edition of 3D Laser Scanning for Heritage. Due out in 2017 this new publication will provide updated advice and guidance to users on laser scanning in archaeology and architecture and the variety of new surveying and imaging technologies being developed and applicable to heritage including pedestrian and vehicle based mobile mapping systems.

We are also currently working on new technical guidance relating to the archaeological application of photogrammetry with particular reference to Structure from Motion (SfM) techniques. Due out in 2017 this new publication aims to raise awareness of the issues that are commonly encountered and the many potential uses for photogrammetry across a wide variety of scales, ranging from landscapes to small objects.

An image of a tomb derived from Structure from Motion (SfM) techniques.
An image of a tomb derived from Structure from Motion (SfM) techniques. © Historic England
3D Laser Scanning for Heritage

3D Laser Scanning for Heritage

Published 31 October 2011

2nd Edition. Advice and guidance to users on laser scanning in archaeology and architecture

The light fantastic: using airborne lidar in archaeological survey
These guidelines are designed to help those intending to use airborne laser scanning (ALS), also known as lidar, for archaeological survey.

The aim is to help archaeologists, researchers and those who manage the historic environment decide first whether using lidar data will actually be beneficial in terms of their research aims and then how it can be used most effectively.

The Light Fantastic

The Light Fantastic

Published 1 April 2010

Using Lidar to Survey Archaeological sites

Geophysical survey in archaeological field evaluation

See our further advice on geophysical survey and marine geophysics.

Geophysical Survey in Archaeological Field Evaluation

Geophysical Survey in Archaeological Field Evaluation

Published 1 April 2008

Guidance to help archaeologists better understand and engage with the techniques of geophysical survey.

Built heritage

Measured and Drawn: Techniques and practice for the metric survey of historic buildings

This document sets out to show how, through working closely with historians, conservators and archaeologists, the best possible metric survey datasets can be derived.

It explains how to achieve a balance between precision, cost and time when applying metric survey technologies within the heritage documentation process by choosing an appropriate methodology and ensuring project information requirements are understood by all right from the start.

We are currently working on new technical guidance relating to Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Heritage. Entiltled BIM for Heritage: Developing a Historic Building Information Model, this new publication is due out in 2017 and aims to provide guidance to owners, end users and professionals in the fields of heritage and construction, helping them successfully implement BIM in heritage projects. 

A detail of a timber is highlighted using Building Information Modelling (BIM)
A detail of a timber is highlighted using Building Information Modelling (BIM) © Historic England
Measured and Drawn: Techniques and practice for the metric survey of historic buildings

Measured and Drawn: Techniques and practice for the metric survey of historic buildings

Published 1 January 2010

2nd Edition. An introduction to the techniques used for recording historic places. Based on the experiences of practitioners working for English Heritage, it has been prepared as a guide to the widening variety of methods available in the production of documentation for conservation.

£25.00

The Presentation of Historic Building Survey in Computer Aided Draughting

This document provides guidance on the presentation of digitally created CAD survey drawings. It focusses on presenting digital drawings to a standard equivalent to those achieved by traditional draughting techniques, thus leveraging the many advantages of a digital format without a significant loss of quality or of the information conveyed.

The Presentation of Historic Building Survey in CAD

The Presentation of Historic Building Survey in CAD

Published 23 June 2005

This document demonstrates that it is possible to produce survey drawings in CAD of a quality equivalent to that achieved by traditional draughting.

Landscape survey

Traversing the past the total station theodolite in archaeological landscape survey

This guidance covers the electronic Total Station Theodolite (TST) and its use in landscape archaeology. Metrically accurate surveys underpin the process of observing, recording and understanding archaeological landscapes, and four case studies provide details of some of the processes involved.

Traversing the Past

Traversing the Past

Published 15 February 2016

This publication is one of a series on archaeological field survey techniques published by Historic England. It covers the electronic total station theodolite (TST) and its use in landscape archaeology.

Where On Earth Are We? The role of Global Navigation Satellite systems (GNSS) in archaeological field survey

This guidance supports the work of both professional and volunteer groups who wish to develop their use of GNSS technology for archaeological landscape survey, whether the aim is to produce detailed plans of earthwork sites, to collect data for use in Geographical Information Systems (GIS) or for reconnaissance work.

With Alidade and Tape: Graphical and plane table survey of archaeological earthworks

This guidance covers the graphical and plane table survey methods for the recording of archaeological earthworks. It is designed to help anyone wanting to carry out a large-scale (1:1000 or 1:500), detailed survey of an archaeological earthwork site.

With Alidade and Tape

With Alidade and Tape

Published 1 March 2002

This paper is designed to assist anyone who wishes to undertake a large-scale (1:1000 or 1:500), detailed survey of an archaeological earthwork site.

 

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