RESEARCH ACTIVITIES

Historic England’s current research programme can be found on our website and includes:

  • Understanding the social and economic value of heritage
  • Identifying and recording new sites to guide future planning decisions
  • Looking at the performance of historic buildings and the best ways of conserving their physical fabric
  • Research into the opportunities and threats facing the historic environment
  • Contributing to the National Heritage Science Strategy

You can keep up to date with a selection of highlights from the latest applied research into the historic environment by Historic England and our partners by signing up to our digital magazine Historic England Research. Recent articles have been looking at historic urban parks under threat, late Iron Age and Roman settlement in south-west Cambridgeshire, 18th century horticulture and the relationship between Nice and the English seaside!

The English Heritage website contains can details of selected current research into how best to protect sites and collections in their care. The Histories pagesshow some of the outputs of their authoritative research; providing are a rich and unique resource containing concise histories and descriptions of many of the places cared for by English Heritage, and explaining why they matter.

Some examples of the range of outcomes arising from our recent research include:

A better understanding of the prehistory of England
Our research into the application of Bayesian modelling of the chronology of Neolithic ‘causewayed enclosures’ means we can now date the spread of this type of monument across the country in unprecedented detail. We can begin to glimpse the activity of individual lives from prehistory, and use this knowledge to better manage this type of site.

Increased visitor numbers at Stonehenge
A wide range of research, from advanced ground -penetrating radar to the reconstruction of round houses has contributed to the world-class interpretation and presentation of
Stonehenge and the surrounding World Heritage Site at the visitor centre. Visitor numbers at the site have risen by 8.4 per cent to 1.34 million visitors annually.

New products to reduce heat loss from traditionally built homes without losing their heritage character
We commissioned research to test the thermal performance of single glazed, historic sash windows and different means to improve thermal efficiency including, curtains, blinds, shutters, and secondary glazing. Blinds with reflective foils produced outstanding results, matching those of double glazing. The research has stimulated the interest of commercial suppliers, and there are now a number of thermal blinds on the market.

Legal protection and better care for First World War commemoration sites
A unique outcome of our research, given our role as a government advisor, is the selection of heritage sites for legal protection. War memorials provide an enduring link to the hundreds of thousands of lives lost in the First World War. As an outcome of our strategic research, we were able to add 555 First World War memorials to the National Heritage List for England in the centenary of the outbreak of the war. We have also issued research-based guidance on their care, making sure they will be properly looked after for future generations.