Desk Research – Sources
It’s a good idea to do your background research first to understand your site and to identify any existing records that inform your site visit.
Local and Regional Museums, Libraries and Archives
You could start by exploring your local museums, libraries and archives publications, collections and records, both online and in person.
Documents, books and images can add a wealth of rich detail to archaeological records, but do ensure you reference your sources and that you have copyright permission to submit previously published works.
National Research on-line
There are a wealth of resources for researching (WW1) Home Front places, including documentary evidence and known people associated with sites, which can be referenced in your recording data.
The First World War and the Historic England Archives
The Historic England Archive in Swindon holds over 12 million photographs and drawings documenting the architectural and archaeological heritage of England. As part of the First World War commemorations, staff at the archive have drawn on a wide range of different collections identifying images and drawings with content related to the War.
The National Archives
The National Archives at Kew holds the official UK government records of the First World War, including a vast collection of letters, diaries, maps and photographs.
The Imperial War Museum
You can look up non-officer ranking military personnel, including photographs, on the Ancestry website.
Aerial photographs provide a rich resource for locating and identifying potential First World War sites. Online sources include Images of England, the Scottish Royal Commission’s national collection of aerial photography (NCAP), Wales from the Air and Britain from Above, the Aerofilms collection of photographs from 1919-53.
A useful list of organisations can be found on the website for the British Association for Local History.
A number of Centenary projects are creating digital archives, some of which are listed on our First World War projects page.
Find Your local Historic Environment Record
You can find your local Historic Environment Record through the Heritage Gateway
Check your local Historic Environment Record or Sites and Monuments Record to find out if your site has already been recorded and protected and what value you can add to records. Talk to your local HER or SMR service for advice and support and for a steer on gaps in their records and existing projects.
England and Scotland
To check if a site has a HER number, contact your local HER officer in England and Scotland or check records online.
For a full listing of local Historic Environment Record/Sites and Monuments Record services in England and Scotland, go to: www.heritagegateway.org.uk/gateway/chr/default.aspx (England) or http://smrforum-scotland.org.uk/her-contacts/ (Scotland).
The four Welsh Archaeological Trusts each hold a Historic Environment Record containing archaeological sites, objects and landscapes from within Wales. To check if a site is recorded by one of the Welsh Historic Environment Records, and locate the Primary Reference Number (PRN) go to: http://www.archwilio.org of contact your nearest Welsh Archaeological Trust. Archwilio can be searched by keyword, period, community council area or by using the map.
NIEA, Built Heritage maintains the Northern Ireland SMR Sites & Monuments Record for the six counties of Northern Ireland, holding information on approx. 15,000 sites. Use the online map viewer to view satellite and street maps of Northern Ireland and locate sites: http://maps.osi.ie/publicviewer.
Looking up National Monuments Records and Archives
A good place to start researching your site is to look at National Monuments Records and archives for 1:25,000 OS maps or historic or recent aerial photographs for abandoned buildings, industrial or military sites or man-made earthworks.
If your site is entered on the National Monuments Record, you will want to include the NMR number in your recording data. You can check this online.
To locate the Pastscape No, search using the NGR, Postcode or District, or by clicking the location on the screen map and checking through the list that is generated to see if your site comes up. If so then click through to that page and select the site details. The Pastscape No is listed in Details under Monument Number.
If the site is designated as a listed building or a scheduled ancient monument it will appear on the National Heritage List for England at:
Canmore combines location information, site details and images on more than 300,000 archaeological, architectural, maritime and industrial sites throughout Scotland. Identify where types of site are located, search site information including digital images and collect bibliographic references to sites. You can also search aerial maps of Scotland using keywords at: http://aerial.rcahms.gov.uk/worldwide/Scotland.php
Cadw, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales and the four Welsh Archaeological Trusts all provide information for an online resource called the Historic Wales Portal. This provides an overview of the records held by each organisation – including listed buildings and scheduled ancient monuments.
For the National Monument Record of Wales, go to: http://www.coflein.gov.uk
Coflein provides access to records of thousands of archaeological sites, monuments, buildings and maritime sites, together with an index to the drawings, manuscripts and photographs held in the NMRW archive by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales. Sites can be displayed either on Ordnance Survey maps and queried geographically, or as a series of text references. The data can be searched by location (place name, area or Ordnance Survey map sheet), by type (the classification or function of a site, monument or building) or by keyword.
Records relating to the historic environment in Northern Ireland are held on the Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Record. Look records up using the online map viewer.
More detailed information is also available from the Monuments and Buildings Record in Belfast at NIEA, Built Heritage, Waterman House, 5-33 Hill Street, Belfast BT1 2LA. Here you can consult site maps for the NISMR, Industrial Heritage Record (IHR) and the Statutory List of Historic Buildings in Northern Ireland. The public search room is open Tuesday to Friday (excluding public holidays) from 9.30am–1.00pm and 2.00–4.30pm. An appointment is recommended.