Historic Building Recording

Specification for Historic Building Recording

  1. Introduction

    1. This specification, prepared by the Devon County Historic Environment Team (HET) sets out the scope of the historic building recording works required as a condition of planning consent granted by the Planning Authority.
    2. The usual wording of such a condition is: “No development to which this permission (or consent) relates shall commence until an appropriate programme of historic building recording and analysis has been secured and implemented in accordance with a written scheme of investigation which has been submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. The development shall be carried out at all times in strict accordance with the approved scheme, or such other details as may be subsequently agreed in writing by the District Planning Authority.” And the reason being ‘To ensure that an appropriate record is made of the historic building fabric that may be affected by the development’
    3. The principal objective of the programme shall be to make a record of the historic building prior to the commencement of the development. However, subsequent recording may be required during the course of the proposed works where previously obscured historic fabric or architectural features are exposed by such works.
  2. Written Scheme of Investigation

    1. This specification sets out the scope of the works required to record the historic fabric affected by the proposed development and will form the basis of the Written Scheme of Investigation to be prepared by the archaeological consultant.
    2. The Written Scheme of Investigation must be submitted by the applicant or, on their behalf, by their agent or archaeological consultant and approved by the HET and the Planning Authority prior to any development commencing on site.
    3. The Written Scheme of Investigation must include the collecting museum’s accession number and the OASIS (Online AccesS to the Index of archaeological investigationS) identification number.
  3. Programme of Archaeological Works

    1. Desk-based assessment
      1. Unless already undertaken, the programme of work shall include an element of desk-based research to place the development site into its historic and archaeological context. This work will consist of map regression based on the Ordnance Survey maps and the tithe map(s) and apportionments. An examination will also be made of records and aerial photographs held by the Devon County Council Historic Environment Record. In addition, it will involve the examination of other relevant cartographic, documentary and photographic sources held at the Devon Heritage Centre.
      2. Please note that the Historic Environment Record (HER) information that the Historic Environment Team (HET) make available online via Heritage Gateway and Devon County Council’s Environmental Viewer are not ‘live’ datasets and so do not contain the most up-to-date HER information. Use of these for commercial purposes is not a substitute for requesting HER information from the HET.  The HER contains the most up-to-date record of Devon’s historic environment. The HET are also aware of information that has yet to be accessioned to the HER or is not otherwise publicly available. The HET can assist in accessing this material, which may be held at the HER or in the Devon Heritage Centre.
      3. If reports are submitted without this reference number and no request for HER data from the Historic Environment Team has been made then acceptance of the report by the Historic Environment Team and/or the relevant Local Planning Authority is likely to be delayed or possibly refused
      4. This desk-based work will be undertaken in advance of any fieldwork commencing.
      5. The results of this desk-based research will be presented as part of the final report along with the results of the fieldwork.
    2. Historic building recording

      1. A record shall be made of the historic fabric of the building affected by the development. This work shall conform to the level of recording as set out in the HET’s response to the Planning Authority or as agreed with the HET. The required levels of archaeological work will be in accordance with guidance as set out in the recording levels described in Understanding Historic Buildings: A guide to good recording practice and described in outline below:
      2. Previously prepared architect’s plans may be used as the basis of any historic building fabric recording, but must be of adequate scale and accuracy. Otherwise the required scale elevations, plans and other drawings should be prepared by the archaeological contractor themselves.
      3. Building recording levels
        1. Level 1 is essentially a basic visual record, supplemented by the minimum of information needed to identify the building’s location, age and type. This is the simplest record, not normally an end in itself but contributing to a wider aim. Typically it will be undertaken when the objective is to gather basic information about a large number of buildings – for statistical sampling, for area assessments or historic landscape characterisation, for a pilot project, to identify buildings for planning purposes, or whenever resources are limited and much ground has to be covered in a short time. It may also serve to identify buildings requiring more detailed attention at a later date. Level 1 surveys will generally be of exteriors only, although they may include superficial interior inspection for significant features. Only if circumstances and objectives allow will any drawings be produced, and these are likely to take the form of sketches.
        2. Level 2 is a descriptive record, made in circumstances similar to those of Level 1 but when more information is needed. It may be made of a building which is judged not to require any fuller record, or it may serve to gather data for a wider project. Both the exterior and the interior will be viewed, described and photographed. The record will present conclusions regarding the building’s development and use, but will not discuss in detail the evidence on which these conclusions are based. A plan and sometimes other drawings may be made but the drawn record will normally not be comprehensive and may be tailored to the scope of a wider project.
        3. Level 3 is an analytical record, and will comprise an introductory description followed by a systematic account of the building’s origins, development and use. The record will include an account of the evidence on which the analysis has been based, allowing the validity of the record to be re-examined in detail. It will also include all drawn and photographic records that may be required to illustrate the building’s appearance and structure and to support an historical analysis. The information contained in the record will for the most part have been obtained through an examination of the building itself. If documentary sources are used they are likely to be those which are most readily accessible, such as historic Ordnance Survey maps, trade directories and other published sources. The record will not normally discuss the building’s broader stylistic or historical context and importance at any length. It may, however, form part of a wider survey – thematic or regional, for example – of a group of buildings, in which additional source material contributes to an overall historical and architectural synthesis. A Level 3 record may also be appropriate when the fabric of a building is under threat but time or resources are insufficient for detailed documentary research, or where the scope for such research is limited.
        4. Level 4 provides a comprehensive analytical record and is appropriate for buildings of special importance. Whereas Level 3 analysis and interpretation will clarify the building’s history in so far as it may be deduced from the structure itself, the record at Level 4 will draw on the full range of available resources and discuss the building’s significance in terms of architectural, social, regional or economic history. The range of drawings may also be greater than at other levels.
      4. An adequate photographic record of the historic building recording work will be prepared. This will include photographs illustrating the principal buildings, architectural features and any finds discovered, in detail and in context. The photographic record will also include working shots to illustrate more generally the nature of the archaeological operation undertaken. All photographs of archaeological detail will feature an appropriately-sized scale. Laser or inkjet prints of digital images, while acceptable for inclusion in the report, are not an acceptable medium for archives. Digital images taken during the course of the fieldwork will form part of the digital archive to be submitted and curated by the ADS – see archive section below.   The drawn and written record must be on an appropriately archivable medium.
      5. The consultant should make themselves familiar with the specification required for each of the recording levels. The detail of the proposed archaeological works should be set out in the Written Scheme of Investigation, including reference to the appropriate CIfA and scientific guidelines for the analysis and dating of the historic buildings.
      6. Should these works encounter historic fabric that contains palaeoenvironmental or datable elements appropriate sampling and post-excavation analysis strategies will be initiated. This would include consideration of sampling of historic thatch and cob for plant macro-fossil analysis, dendrochronological samples for dating purposes, etc. The project will be organised so that specialist consultants who might be required to conserve or report on finds or advise or report on other aspects of the investigation (e.g. palaeoenvironmental analysis) can be called upon and undertake assessment and analysis of such deposits – if required. On-site sampling and post-excavation assessment and analysis will be undertaken in accordance with guidance in Environmental Archaeology: a guide to the theory and practice of methods, from sampling and recovery to post-excavation.
      7. There should be provision within the project organisation for the site attendance of specialists who can advise on sampling strategies for the recovery of palaeoenvironmental information and with regard to specialist dating techniques, such as dendrochronology.
      8. Should significant historical and/or architectural elements be exposed within the building by conversion/construction works the Planning Authority’s Conservation Officer and the HET will be informed. English Heritage must be consulted with regard to developments affecting Grade I or II* listed building. The applicant will ensure that any such exposed elements remain undisturbed until their significance can be determined and to allow consideration of their retention in situ.
      9. Provision should be allowed within the project for appropriate investigation and recording of archaeological and/or artefactual deposits associated with the historic building that are exposed by groundworks undertaken for the conversion/construction works.
      10. The results of any desk-based work undertaken and a copy of the agreed Written Scheme of Investigation must be made available to the site director/supervisor to enable the adequate interpretation of exposed features/deposits during fieldwork and that the agreed programme of works is understood and undertaken.
  4. Monitoring by the Historic Environment Team

    1. The archaeological consultant shall agree monitoring arrangements with the County Historic Environment Team and the District Council’s Conservation Officer and give two weeks’ notice, unless a shorter period is agreed with the HET, of commencement of the fieldwork. Details will be agreed of any monitoring points where decisions on options within the programme are to be made.
    2. Monitoring will continue until the deposition of the site archive and finds, and the satisfactory completion of an OASIS report – see 5.7 below.
    3. The archaeological contractor undertaking the fieldwork will notify the HET upon completion of the fieldwork stage of these works.
  5. Reporting

    1. Upon completion of the fieldwork and required post-excavation analysis an illustrated report will be prepared. The report will collate the written, graphic, visible and recorded information outlined in section 3 above.
    2. The report will include:
      1. a summary of the project’s background;
      2. description and illustration of the buildings location;
      3. a methodology of all works undertaken;
      4. include plans and reports of all documentary and other research undertaken;
      5. a description of the project’s results;
      6. an interpretation of the results in the appropriate context;
      7. a summary of the contents of the project archive and its location (including summary catalogues of finds and samples);
      8. a site location plan at an appropriate scale on an Ordnance Survey, or equivalent, base-map;
      9. a plan showing the layout of the buildings subject to this programme of work in relation to identifiable landscape features and other buildings;
      10. the results of the historic building recording that shall include a written description and analysis of the historic fabric of the building, appropriately illustrated with phased plans, cross-section drawing, internal and external scale elevations and plans, illustration – drawn and photographic – of elements of special architectural or historic interest, annotated architects plans;
      11. photographs showing the general site layout and exposed significant features of historic or architectural significance that are referred to in the text. All photographs should contain appropriate scales, the size of which will be noted in the illustration’s caption;
      12. a consideration of evidence within its wider context;
      13. any specialist assessment or analysis reports that where undertaken;
      14. an evaluation of the methodology employed and the results obtained (i.e. a confidence rating).;
    3. If any pre-application historic building evaluation or recording has been undertaken then this should be included in the final report and included in the over-arching site archive. It is recommended that a draft report is submitted to the HET for comment prior to its formal submission to the Local Planning Authority.
    4. The timetable for the production of the report must be set out in the Written Scheme of Investigation. The HET would normally expect to receive the report within three months of completion of fieldwork – dependent upon the provision of specialist reports, radiocarbon dating results etc. the production of which may exceed this period. If a substantial delay is anticipated then the HET must be informed of this and a revised date for the production of the full report agreed between the HET and the archaeological contractor.   If a substantial delay is anticipated then an interim report will be produced within three months of the completion of the fieldwork.
    5. In addition to the copy supplied to the Planning Authority a copy of the report will also be submitted to the Planning Authority’s Conservation Officer.
    6. Should the development proceed in a staged manner, with each stage requiring archaeological fieldwork, and where a period of more than three months between each stage is anticipated or occurs, then the archaeological contractor shall prepare an interim illustrated summary report at the end of each stage. The report will set out the results of that phase of archaeological works, including the results of any specialist assessment or analysis undertaken. The report will be produced within three months of completion of each phase of fieldwork. At the completion of the final stage of the fieldwork an overarching report setting out the results of all stages of work will be prepared. HET would normally expect to receive the report within three months of completion of fieldwork – dependent upon the provision of specialist reports, radiocarbon dating results etc the production of which may exceed this period. If a substantial delay is anticipated then the HET must be informed of this, an interim report will be produced within three months of the completion of the final stage of fieldwork, and a revised date for the production of the full report agreed between the HET and the archaeological contractor.
    7. Should this programme of archaeological investigation and recording be undertaken along with another archaeological works, such as an investigation of below-ground archaeological deposits within the same development, a combined over-arching report on all elements of the investigations and recording will be produced in accordance with the details of this specification and any other relevant specification for the development.
    8. On completion of the report, in addition to copies required by the Client and the Planning Authority’s Conservation Officer, a digital copy will be supplied to the Historic Environment Team on the understanding that it will be made available to researchers via a web-based version of the Historic Environment Record.
    9. The archaeological consultant shall complete an online OASIS (Online AccesS to the Index of archaeological investigationS) form in respect of the archaeological work. This will include the uploading of a digital version of the report. The report or short entry will also include the OASIS ID number.
  6. Publication

    1. Where the exposure of architectural or historic building fabric is limited or of little significance the production of a summary report will follow on directly from the field work – see above.
    2. However, should particularly significant archaeological or palaeoenvironmental remains, finds and/or deposits (including structural fabric) be encountered, then these, because of their importance, are likely to merit wider publication in line with government planning guidance (paragraph 205 of the National Planning Policy Framework (2023). If such remains are encountered, the publication requirements – including any further analysis that may be necessary – will be confirmed with the HET.
    3. Post Excavation Assessment, Analysis and Project Designs for further work

      1. Where excavations reveal archaeological, artefactual or palaeoenvironmental deposits that have potential for yielding important information about the site or its environs, through specialist assessment and analysis, this assessment work will be undertaken and reported on in a separate formal Post-Excavation Assessment and Project Design. This document may also fulfil the role of an interim report if a substantial publication delay is expected.
      2. This document will be produced by the archaeological contractor within three months of completion of the fieldwork – specialist input allowing – and agreed with the HET. It will include:
      3. A summary of the project and its background
      4. A plan showing the location of the site and plans of the site showing the location of archaeological features, artefactual or palaeoenvironmental deposits exposed
      5. Research aims and objectives
      6. Method statements setting out how these aims and objectives are to be achieved
      7. Details of the tasks to be undertaken
      8. The results of any specialist assessment work undertaken as part of the production of the formal Assessment and Project Design
      9. Proposed project team
      10. Overall timetable for undertaking the tasks as well as setting out monitoring points with the HET
      11. Details of the journal in which the material is to be published
  7. Personnel

    1. The recording work shall be carried out by a professional historic building specialist to be agreed with the HET. Staff must be suitably qualified and experienced for their project roles. All work should be carried out under the control of a member of the Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), a member of the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists or by a specified person of equivalent standing and expertise. The Written Scheme of Investigation will contain details of key project staff and specialists who may contribute during the course of the works – excavation and post-excavation.
    2. Health and Safety matters, including site security, are matters for the consultant. However, adherence to all relevant regulations will be required.
    3. The archaeological consultant shall give the HET two weeks notice of commencement of works and shall be responsible for agreeing monitoring arrangements. Details will be agreed of any monitoring points where decisions on options within the programme are to be made.
    4. Monitoring will continue until the deposition of the site archive and finds, and the satisfactory completion of an OASIS report – see 5.5 below.
    5. The work shall be carried out in accordance with CIfA Standard and Guidance for the archaeological investigation and recording of standing buildings or structures.
  8. Deposition of Archive and Finds

    1. Completion of the project is dependent on the compilation of an ordered and integrated project archive by the archaeological contractor in accordance with this specification, the CIfA Standard and guidance for the creation, compilation, transfer and deposition of archaeological archives and with Management of Research Projects in the Historic Environment (MoRPHE). The archive must also be transferred for long-term curation to a recognised, accredited or trusted repository. An archive is defined as “all records and materials recovered during an archaeological project and identified for long term preservation, including artefacts, ecofacts and other environmental remains, waste products, scientific samples and also written and visual documentation in paper, film and digital form” (ARCHES).
    2. It is anticipated that the archive will consist of three elements:
      1. a copy of the report;
      2. copies of all photographs and associated metadata collected during the course of the historic building recording, and
      3. sometimes, laser scan data or other survey data.
    3. See section 8.14 below with regard to disposal of the primary hardcopy records.
    4. The Written Scheme of Investigation must set out a timetable for the deposition of the site archive. The HET would normally expect this to be completed within six months of completion of the fieldwork element of the project.
    5. Should the programme of historic building recording yield any artefactual material or involve the recovery of architectural elements that are worthy of deposition with the collecting museum, the archaeological contractors should contact the collecting museum as soon as such material finds are recovered to obtain an accession or reference number and agree future conditions for deposition with the museum. If a museum accession or reference number cannot be quoted in the WSI, for whatever reason, the WSI should state the date on which the collecting museum was contacted to obtain the accession or reference number. Items in the material archive must be cleaned (or otherwise appropriately treated), ordered, recorded, packed and boxed in accordance with the deposition standards of the relevant museum. It is advised that early consultation with the museum will facilitate transfer of the material archive.
    6. The collecting museums in Devon (Royal Albert Memorial Museum Exeter, Museum of Barnstaple & North Devon and Plymouth City Museum & Art Gallery) require that the digital archive (consisting of born-digital and digital copies of relevant written and drawn data produced during fieldwork) must be transferred into the care of a Trusted Digital Repository rather than the museum (see ‘Deposition of the digital archive’ – below).
    7. If ownership of all or any of the finds is to remain with the landowner, provision and agreement must be made for the time-limited retention of the material and its full analysis and recording, by appropriate specialists.
    8. Deposition of the digital archive
      1. The digital archive will consist of:
      2. a copy of the final report and
      3. digital images, along with associated meta-data, of the historic building that are not presented in the report.
    9. The digital archive must be deposited with a Trusted Digital Repository and thus made publicly accessible, in accordance with the National Planning Policy Framework (2023). It is understood that the only suitable repository for digital archaeological archive is the Archaeology Data Service (ADS).
    10. The digital archive must be compiled in accordance with the standards and requirements of the ADS, which may be accessed through the ADS website
    11. Guidance on selection for the archive is also available.
    12. Further guidance can be found at Work Digital/Think Archive: A guide to managing digital data generated from archaeological investigations (Digventures, 2019).
    13. It is expected that a licence to copyright for documentary material, in both physical and digital forms, will be given to the receiving repository. This must be stated within the Written Scheme of Investigation, which should also identify the recipients of each element of the documentary archive.
    14. Disposal of the primary hardcopy records
      1. The collecting museum may wish to retain the hardcopy archive to accompany the artefactual material. (For example: where the programme of archaeological works involves the investigation and analysis of regionally/nationally significant archaeological and/or artefactual deposits). In all cases the archaeological contractor must first offer the primary paper record archive to the museum prior to its disposal.
    15. Once the digital archive has been transferred to the appropriate Trusted Digital Repository and the museum has confirmed that this has occurred satisfactorily and that they do not require the hardcopy archive, the archaeological contractor may retain, disperse or dispose of the primary hardcopy items as they see fit. Items may be retained for curation by the contractor, developer or applicant, or offered to a third party organisation for public use or as a teaching resource. The WSI should state how primary hardcopy items will be treated.
    16. Where the collecting museum does not require the hardcopy element disposal may mean physical destruction of the primary record. The WSI should state the proposed disposal method to be employed.
    17. The archaeological contractor must notify the HET upon the completion of:
      1. deposition of the site report with the ADS, and
      2. deposition of any additional digital images with the ADS.
    18. The historic building recording condition will be discharged by the planning authority upon receipt of an appropriate Written Scheme of Investigation – as advised by the Historic Environment Team.
    19. Should the approved programme of historic building recording work not be implemented the Planning Authority may take enforcement action to ensure the appropriate implementation of the programme of works.
  9. Conflict with Other Conditions and Statutorily Protected Species

    1. It is the archaeological contractor’s responsibility – in consultation with the applicant or agent – to ensure that the undertaking of the required archaeological works does not conflict with any other conditions that have been imposed upon the consent granted and should also consider any biodiversity issues as covered by the NERC Act 2006. In particular, such conflicts may arise where archaeological investigations/excavations have the potential to have an impact upon protected species and/or natural habitats e.g. SSSIs, Habitat Regulations (The Conservation (Natural Habitats, &c.) (Amendment) Regulations 2007), National Nature Reserves, Special Protection Areas, Special Areas of Conservation, Ramsar sites, County Wildlife Sites etc.

Revised: 17th November 2023