Historic Environment Record

Why is there a Historic Environment Record

The idea behind Historic Environment Records developed in the 1970s, as part of the response to increasing levels of development. Greater levels of development meant that increasing levels of destruction of the historic buildings, sites and monuments in Britain took place. It was seen as a priority that collections of records were made to list features of archaeological and historical significance that may be affected by development, as a way of managing the redevelopment in many towns and cities. The assumption was, and still is, that if no-one knows that there is a significant site in existence, no attempts to save or record that site can be made, and features will systematically be lost.
Archaeologists, development control officers and heritage managers are not aiming to fossilise our villages, towns and cities. The existence of Historic Environment Records simply means that change can be managed in a sympathetic way, to best serve the needs of the historic environment itself, and to preserve the archaeological resource in the most appropriate way.
The HER is a vital part of the development process and heritage management generally as it underpins all the advice given and recommendations made regarding the management of the archaeological resource. Archaeological contractors who are undertaking research into a development will look at the HER to determine the impact of the proposed works and use this to make recommendations. The development control officers will then be able to use the HER research, and subsequent recommendations, to decide how to advise planners and developers of the best course of action in relation to that development. It may be identified that, as part of the development, archaeological works of some kind will need to be undertaken. The results of both the initial research which used the HER as a base, and the subsequent programme of works, will then be fed back into the HER to inform other research.
Curatorial archaeologists, or heritage managers, use the information in the HER in the same ways. The information held in the record will determine the advice provided for a range of projects including landscape management plans and the unitary development plans of local authorities. The areas being put forward for management or development are assessed in terms of the historical and archaeological significance (which includes landscape character), which will be determined by the sites, monuments, buildings, artefacts and landscapes recorded in the HER.
The HER is not simply a tool for professional archaeologists, however, it is also a valuable research tool for anybody interested in the local landscape. Queries regarding the archaeological sites in any area of the former unitary authority of Gwynedd can be dealt with by the Gwynedd Archaeological Trust HER, whether the focus of an enquiry is looking at a particular type or period of site, or whether it is focussed on a specific geographical area.
The Historic Environment Record is the primary source of information on all aspects of the historic environment of north-west Wales, and it is the mechanism for recording the ongoing process of its interpretation, conservation and management.