A group of Prehistoric barrows
Prehistoric barrows at Ashen Hill, in the Mendips. © Historic England DP 1578754
Prehistoric barrows at Ashen Hill, in the Mendips. © Historic England DP 1578754

Prehistory Research Strategy

The Thematic Research Strategy for Prehistory articulates the intellectual basis for our research response to key issues and themes in prehistoric archaeology and sets out current priorities for research funded or carried out by Historic England.

The heritage sector has established research priorities for prehistory in a series of framework documents, notably the Regional Research Frameworks for England.

The Research Strategy for Prehistory aims to distil these into a set of broad themes, within which we have identified a smaller number of priorities for Historic England, based on their alignment with corporate objectives.

The overarching aims of the strategy are to improve understanding of our prehistoric heritage in order to help protect its most significant parts, and to promote that significance to a wide range of different audiences. The priorities can be summarised as follows:

  • Integrated approaches to prehistoric landscapes: filling gaps, understanding biases, improving methodologies and connecting different types of landscape.
  • Setting prehistoric sites in context: improving understanding of the spatial, typological and chronological context of key prehistoric sites.
  • Understanding 'sites without structures': improving methods of characterising ephemeral sites, especially lithic scatters.
  • Managing the impact of climate change: understanding and mitigating the effects on prehistoric sites of climate change, changing land-use and desiccation of wetlands.
  • Improving access to unpublished data: grey literature synthesis, archive research, backlog publications and enhancing Historic Environment Record (HER) data.
  • Teaching prehistory: developing educational resources and popular narratives to engage new audiences.

If you have any queries about our research approaches please email us using the contact details below.