Assessing Significance through Research
The more we understand about the significance and character of our heritage, the better the decisions are likely to be when it comes to how we care for it.
We apply numerous research methods, considerable expertise and an in depth knowledge when investigating and assessing historic places, buildings, sites and landscape.
The way we prioritise the research that we carry out on significance and character in England is based on national need. We consider the research areas below to be most under threat, the least understood, or to have the greatest opportunities for public involvement, enjoyment and benefit.
Our research helps to contribute to a strategic approach to defining national importance which in turn leads to heritage being better protected. Our research also results in new conservation methods being developed.
Urban and public realm heritage
Most people in England either live or work in cities and towns. They generally appreciate the need to assess the significance and character of the heritage of these places in order to guide change.
Heritage of trade and industry
England has played an internationally important role in the development of industry and transport.
Our research includes assessing industrial heritage of twentieth-century and small-scale traditional industry and mining. We also assess the heritage of communications and infrastructure, including ports, dockyards, harbours and types of water management.
Heritage of faith and commemoration
For many in England, faith and its heritage are especially important. Sacred structures and places are among the most distinctive, beautifully designed and culturally meaningful in this country.
Our research priorities include Christian churches, chapels and burial sites, and the heritage of other faiths.
As an island nation involved in numerous conflicts, England’s heritage includes a wide variety of military complexes. Most have significance beyond the local, and character that inspires, daunts and disturbs.
Our priorities here include MoD (Ministry of Defence) sites earmarked for disposal and 20th century establishments.
England’s rural landscape is fundamentally historic and ever-changing. It is also highly valued by most people.
Our research priorities include assessing:
- Settlements that are susceptible to expansion
- Buildings subject to reuse and
- Rural landscapes vulnerable to damaging forms of change
Coastal, marine and maritime heritage
England’s coast is rich in historic structures and the sea hides much of archaeological importance, such as ship and aircraft wrecks and submerged landscapes.
Our priorities include sites threatened by the exploitation of resources and coastal change, and the heritage of ship-building and fishing ports and harbours.