Making and the Historic Environment
record of a building or site is an essential aid in the planning and
implementation of conservation projects. A good record enables better
analysis and interpretation of the historical and archaeological resource
preserved in every old building and sheds light on the processes of
development and decay. A poorly understood resource cannot be conserved,
protected, or managed effectively.
repair and maintenance programmes it is often necessary to document
both the original state of the object being conserved and the conservation
process itself to provide a record, particularly where a component
or structure is deconstructed, repaired and then reassembled as part
of the conservation process.
as 'intensive' record making (as opposed to 'extensive' record making
which is a more descriptive assessment), this type of documentation
should be considered indispensable in all conservation work, and the
costs involved should be treated as a legitimate element of the project
budget. Indeed, grant aid and planning consent for works to historic
buildings and monuments may be conditional on recording and understanding.
for record making at nationally important sites such as scheduled
ancient monuments, cathedrals and other Grade I or II* (Grade A in
Scotland) listed buildings, is relatively well established in the
United Kingdom through the procedures operated by the relevant national
conservation bodies. Following the publication in 1994 of the Government
policy guidance PPG 15 Planning and the Historic Environment,
the importance of recording for all classes of listed buildings was
reinforced and formally integrated into the English planning process.
Under this guidance the new provisions now require that alteration
and demolition work affecting listed buildings is assessed prior to
planning decisions, and 'exploratory opening up' can now
be required where the local authority suspects that hidden features
such as fire places, panelling or wattle-and-daub partitions may be
affected (para 3.24). If appropriate, applicants may be required
to arrange 'suitable programmes of recording of features that
would be destroyed in the course of the works' (para 3.23).
Thus developers are expected to assess and justify the impact of their
proposals by making provision for record making, and demonstrating
an understanding of the significance of the architectural or historical
interest of the building and its setting.
desk-based research should be undertaken to assess any relevant documents
relating to the building and its environs. There is little point in
duplicating work; relevant information should therefore be referred
to or appended to the final report. Sources may include both primary
and secondary written accounts, early maps, photographs and drawings
or prints, and particularly any survey records dealing with past works
of repair. Where appropriate, oral testimonies should be obtained
from any current or former owners or tenants, and transcripts of the
SURVEY FOR CONSERVATION WORKS
variety of different methods, equipment and related software packages
are available to capture, manipulate and output survey data. The choice
of the most appropriate and reliable methodology will depend on the
scale, accuracy and level of recording required.
and instrument surveys are essential for large-scale recording programmes
and for recording all but the most simple structures. Options include
conventional and rectified photography which record dimensions in
a single plane, and three-dimensional recording using photogrammetry.
Photography and photogrammetry enable fine details to be recorded
such as decorative embellishments or the shape of each stone and its
surface markings. For rectified photographs the plane of the film
is aligned to produce an image in which all parallel lines on the
building or structure remain parallel, thus 'rectifying' the divergence
of lines in perspective. This enables details to be reproduced to
scale, and each photograph should include a rule or measuring staff.
A mosaic of detailed shots may be assembled to create an entire elevation,
and oblique views may be used to give some idea of depth. However,
the technique remains essentially two-dimensional, providing useful
information to supplement (but not replace) more precise measurement.
provides more detailed information by recording 'stereo-pairs' of
photographs using cameras with near distortion-free lenses. A stereo-pair
consists of two photographs with the same area of elevation being
imaged on each. From this is established a three-dimensional stereo-model
or photographic replica in miniature of the original. The stereo-models
can be digitised and scaled against measurements taken on site ('control'
data) to produce accurate drawings for use with CAD (Computer Aided
Drafting) software. The recent development of high resolution digital
cameras simplifies the process, with wider applications for all aspects
of record making, ensuring greater accuracy, security, flexibility,
surveys are typically undertaken using a total station which consists
of a theodolite incorporating an electronic distance meter. Distance
measurement is obtained by analysis of an infra-red beam reflected
off a small prism held on the point of detail. The facility enables
the capture of digital, three-dimensional data, logged on a small
computer attached to the total station. Specialist survey software
then enables the formatting of the data for transferral to a CAD system
for manipulation into working drawings. Both this method and photogrammetry
are invaluable for measuring remote objects or points which might
otherwise only be reached with scaffolding. However, whichever method
is chosen, the survey data will require field verification before
final drawings can be produced.
RECORDING AND ANALYSIS
different types of drawn, photographic, and written records for a
major building conservation project include:
records (plans, elevations, cross-sections, and details)
records (before and during works)
and interpretation records (material type, surface finish, building
periods, construction phases, occupational detail, and evidence
for abandonment, demolition, reconstructions, and projections).
Records made before work commences may be required for selected areas
of fabric to serve as an aid to rebuilding. Where, for example, it
is necessary to deconstruct the timber frame of a listed building
to repair decay, or where partial demolition of its masonry to remove
rusting metal cramps cannot be avoided, consent for the work will
usually be conditional on the production of accurate records. These
records will be essential for reassembling the structure. Particular
attention should be paid to such hidden features as carpentry joints,
setting-out lines, moulding profiles, inscriptions, tooling, nail
positions, masons' and carpenters' marks, and graffiti.
records will be required to document the repair and conservation work
and the finished result, so that it is clear which elements are original.
Such documentation allows repairs, alterations and preventative measures
to be monitored, and any recurrence of deterioration may be identified
more clearly as a result, allowing further action to be taken immediately.
Where repairs are no longer obvious, for example, where original and
repaired areas have been painted over or gilded, photographic records
backed up with precise measurements may be the only way to identify
which elements are new. If this work has to be redone, accurate and
comprehensive records will be vital.
SCOPE AND LEVEL OF RECORDING
scope and level of recording will be dependent on a number of factors,
including relevant planning policies and research agendas, the type
and complexity of the building, site logistics, and the nature of
proposed works or potential threats. In some the resources available
may be limited, not only where ownership is private, but increasingly
with public ownership also. It should be emphasised, however, that
in most instances an initial assessment is not an expensive exercise
and can be well worthwhile for the applicant and local authority alike,
assisting in both the formulation of proposals and in obtaining consent.
Assessments may also lead to greater understanding of the structural
and material performance of the fabric, thus avoiding irrevocable
damage and allowing appropriate preservation.
programmes must be carefully tailored to the particular circumstances
of each project and the overall objective. Ideally therefore, strategies
should be developed in advance of works and in conjunction with all
the other professional groups involved. Clearly not all structures
need to be recorded in the same detail: different circumstances will
demand different responses. Levels can range from comprehensive recording
of complex buildings and their environs, to selective recording of
structures of more regular or repetitive construction, concentrating
on those elements which are affected by proposals or which are particularly
STANDARDS AND GUIDANCE FOR RECORD MAKING
the increased emphasis on record making within PPG 15, there is a
need for information on these various processes to be made available
to local authorities and practitioners, so that common standards can
be developed. Accepted guidelines for recording need to be established
and a range of relevant extensive and intensive recording procedures
and planning scenarios needs to be made available to illustrate good
development control and building recording practices.
increasingly important role of record making offers the prospect of
greater integration between those bodies responsible for the protection
and management of the historic built environment, and improved links
within the planning, conservation, architectural, and archaeological
professions. It is only by working in close partnerships within multi-disciplinary
teams that the historical and archaeological value of buildings and
sites can be fully appreciated and preserved.
- D Andrews et al, The Survey and Recording
of Historic Buildings and Monuments, Association of
Archaeological Illustrators and Surveyors, Oxford, 1995
- T Buchanan, Photographing Historic Buildings for the Record, HMSO, London, 1983
- Planning and the Historic Environment, Planning Policy
Guidance Note 15, Department of the Environment/Department
of National Heritage, London, 1994
- Cathedrals Fabric Records, English Heritage/The
Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England, London, 1995
- Guide to Recording Historic Buildings,ICOMOS, Architectural Press, London, 1990
- Standard and Guidance for the Archaeological Investigation and Recording of Standing Buildings or Structures (Draft), Institute of Field Archaeologists, Birmingham, 1995
- R Letellier, Recording, Documentation and Information Management Guidelines for World Cultural Heritage Sites (Draft), ICCROM, Rome,1994
- Recording Historic Buildings: A Descriptive Specification
(2nd ed), Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of
- W Rodwell,
Church Archaeology Batsford, London, 1989
- P Swallow et al, Measurement and Recording of
Historic Buildings, Donhead, Shaftesbury, 1993
- J Wood
(ed), Buildings Archaeology: Applications in Practice, Oxbow Books, Oxford, 1994
Members of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (formerly the Institute of Field Archaeologists) working in the field of buildings archaeology have formed a Buildings Archaeology Group within the CIfA. For more information about the work of the group and how to join it, please follow the link below:
Chartered Institute for Archaeologists, Buildings Archaeology Group
article is reproduced from The Building Conservation Directory, 1996
Update, September 2012
Recently there have been several significant changes in UK government planning guidance and policy.
In England Planning Policy Guidance Note 15: Conservation of the Historic Environment (PPG15, 1994) and Planning Policy Guidance Note 16: Archaeology and Planning (PPG16, 1990) have been cancelled by the Government. Initially replaced by Planning Policy Statement 5 (PPS5) in March 2010, current policy guidance for England is now given in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) issued in March 2012. Further guidance is proposed, but in the meantime the guide which originally accompanied PPS5 remains in force - see PPS5 Historic Environment Planning Practice Guide.
In Scotland the principal statutory guidance on policy is now Scottish historic environment policy (SHEP), which was published in December 2011, with subsidiary guidance given in Historic Scotland’s Managing Change leaflets. These documents together replace the Memorandum of Guidance on Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas published in 1998.
WOOD is an assistant director
of Lancaster University Archaeological Unit with special responsibility
for the management of historic fabric survey projects and associated conservation
work. As an internationally recognised expert in the archaeology of buildings,
he has managed, directed, and published projects in Britain, France, Jordan
and Nepal. He was instrumental in establishing (and later chairing)
the Buildings Special Interest Group of the Institute for Archaeologists (now the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists),
and was editor of the IfA's textbook on the subject.
Legislation and guidance
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