Drawing for Understanding

Creating Interpretive Drawings of Historic Buildings

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This guidance describes a method of recording historic buildings for the purpose of historical understanding using analytical site drawing and measuring by hand.

The techniques described here have a long tradition of being used to aid understanding by observation and close contact with building fabric. They can be used by all involved in making records of buildings of all types and ages, but are particularly useful for vernacular buildings and architectural details which are crucial to the history of a building or site.

Record drawings are best used alongside other recording techniques such as written reports and photography (as described in Understanding Historic Buildings or to supplement digital survey data (see also Traversing the Past: The total station theodolite in archaeological landscape survey. They can also be used as a basis for illustrations that disseminate understanding to wider audiences.


  • Introduction
  • Case Study 1 - Low Park, Alston Moor, Alston, Cumbria
  • Fieldwork: site sketching and hand measuring
  • Case Study 2 - 33 High Street, Ely, Cambridgeshire
  • Measured drawings
  • Case Study 3 - Nappa Hall, Askrigg, North Yorkshire
  • Bird’s-eye views, 3D drawings and reconstructions
  • Case Study 4 - Old Manor House, Manningham, Bradford
  • Completing the drawing
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Glossary
  • Appendix: Drawing conventions

Additional Information

  • Series: Guidance
  • Publication Status: Completed
  • Pages: 98
  • Product Code: HEAG119


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