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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.

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.

Download Metric Survey Specifications 

Remote sensing and 3-D imaging

Laser Scanning
This guidance aims to develop and support best practice in laser scanning for archaeology and architecture.

  • 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)

Download Laser Scanning Guidance

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.

Download The Light Fantastic

Geophysical survey in archaeological field evaluation

See our advice on geophysical survey and marine geophysics.

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. (2nd Edition)

Download Measured and Drawn

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.

Download Building Survey in CAD

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.

Download Traversing the Past

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.

Download Where on Earth

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.

Download Alidade and Tape

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