You local Historic Environment Record (HER) or Sites and Monuments Record Service (SMR) is your first port of call to find out more about First World War (WW1) sites in your area.
What are Historic Environment Records?
Sites and Monument Records (SMRs) and broader Historic Environment Records (HERs) contain known historic and archaeological sites and finds within a county or unitary authority. Usually accessed online and often using a map based system, the records incorporate a wide range of sources, including aerial photographs, published and unpublished material, and historic and modern maps.
HER services can include:
- maintaining and enhancing the record of historic and archaeological sites
- operating a public information and research service
- providing information to planning archaeologists and consultants, government bodies such as Historic England, conservation and tourism bodies, the public utilities, local research groups, landowners and developers.
Services with an outreach resource also actively promote local archaeology to the community through events and engagement activities.
In England, selected Historic Environments or Sites and Monuments Records can be viewed on the Heritage Gateway, or accessed via local authorities. In Scotland, these records can be viewed on Pastmap and Canmore.
The four Welsh Archaeological Trusts each hold a Historic Environment Record (HER) containing archaeological sites, objects and landscapes recorded within Wales. Each Welsh HER comprises a digital database and supporting paper-based reference collection such as maps and aerial photographs. To view online records, go to the Archwilio website.
In Northern Ireland, records for 16,000 archaeological sites and historic monuments are held on the Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Record, operated by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
How can they help?
Your HER or SMR can tell you what sites have been recorded on the local Historic Environment Record or National Monument Records and archives. Also, whether a particular site already has statutory listing or protection.
They may be able to advise on records that require updating or further detail as well as identifying gaps in their data that you may like to research and record.
Services with a community engagement role may also be able to put you in touch with local groups who are already running First World War projects, or advise you on setting up your own.
How do I find my local service?
Your local Historic Environment or Sites and Monuments service is usually accessed via your local authority in England and Scotland, or via the Welsh Trusts in Wales or the Northern Ireland Sites and Monument Record Office in Belfast.
You can find details of many local services in England on the Heritage Gateway and across the UK by consulting the comprehensive directory on the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers website.
In Wales, contact your nearest Welsh Archaeological Trust.
Why do Historic Environment Records matter?
By submitting your site recording to the Historic Environment Record through the Home Front Legacy project, you will be preserving your local knowledge and opening it up to everyone.
Your site description, photographs and plans will record the surviving remains, while any evidence you uncover of the people and events associated with the site will bring its stories to life. Your data will inform future research and increase our understanding of the impact of the First World War.
Your data may also be used to inform future planning decisions relating to the site and its surroundings, and have a positive influence on designation or listing by Historic England, the Northern Ireland Environment Agency, and the Royal Commissions in Scotland and Wales.