Session 12 – Writing for Archaeology

This was the last session of the module, so the lecture notes here introduce the new topic of writing for Archaeology, but also are intended as an overview of the past 11 sessions, and give pointers for where you may wish to go now in the field of Archaeology.

And also the accompanying handout:

Urban Archaeology Session 12 – Writing for Archaeology HANDOUT by Nicole Beale


Session 10 – Landscape Archaeology

Session 10 focussed on landscape archaeology and how the approaches from this can contribute to our understanding of the archaeology of the urban landscape.

Notes from Nicole’s lecture:

Focus of this session

  • That field doesn’t look very urban!
  • City and Country
  • The Transient City
  • Reading the landscape
  • Documenting the Landscape

Next session

  • How we have documented the landscape in the past using maps and plans
  • How we can use these documents to learn about urban archaeology

What does landscape archaeology do?

  1. Looks at larger context, identifying models of settlement area structures.
  2. Looks at settlement remains that are not identifiable by traditional means. i.e. no physical remains.
  3. Uses non-destructive methods of data analysis.

Landscape archaeology considers both:

  • Natural environment
  • Social environment

How do archaeologists view landscape?

  • They look at the land.

–      What is at the edge or beyond the excavation.

  • The look at The Land.

–      Thinking about how people in the past understood the landscape. A way of seeing the land, transforming the study of the land into ‘land-scape’.

— Johnson, M. 2007. Ideas of Landscape, Blackwell Publishing: London

Approaches to landscape archaeology

  • Multiple!

–      Quantitative Spatial Analysis

  • GIS
  • Predictive modelling

–      The soil

  • Bioarchaeology / Pollen analysis / Faunal analysis / Soil sampling

–      Archival data


  • Examples of what reading the landscape can tell us about archaeology.
  • Humans have always tried to understand the land

Example of rock art as a way to try to control the landscape

  • Bronze Age
  • Early Bronze Age

Example of Farming gets serious.

  • Fencing (of a sort).
  • Dartmoor and Exmoor
    – Moor Reaves

Example of Roman Roads

  • Reflect both

–      Political picture of mid-1st century AD Iron Age Britain

–      AND

–      Romans’ need to supply
the army efficiently.

Example of Medieval landscapes

  • Medieval partitioning of landscape was tied into the way society was structured.
  • Land partitioning supported by documentation.
  • Not just administrative, but also relating to power and authority.
  • Also in this period, there were attempts to develop knowledge around geography. The Church mediated much of this.

Example of Deserted Medieval Villages

  • Enclosure – from arable to pasture.
  • Some say: Development of rural capitalism.
  • Resistance through modification of landscape:

–      Levellers – took their name from levelling of hedges and ditches.

  • Wharram Percy – English Heritage

Example of 16-17th Centuries

  • Linking of land and social order:

1. Latin and Greek

–      Poems:

  • Milton’s Horatio at his farm
  • led to interest in farm management
  • led to increase in agricultural innovation

— see Thirsk, 1992. Making a Fresh Start

2. Gutenberg Press

–      Bible in the household

–      Access to the landscape and religious and political READINGS of the landscape:

  • The Garden of Eden
  • The Promised Land
  • The wilderness

— see Hill, 1993. The English Bible and the 17th Century Revolution

  • Divide between loyalty to the ‘monarch’ and loyalty to the ‘nation’.

–      See the Ditchley Portrait.

–      Later King Charles tried for treachery in the name of the nation.

Example of Henry VIII and Country Houses

  • Most built during reign of Henry VIII.
  • Last ‘castle’ was Thornbury (built 1511-21), but purely domestic.
  • Compton Wynyates (1510), Warwickshire. Built on site of Compton Superior.
  • More important than the house is the park.

Example of 18th Century

  • More and bigger parks.
  • Wimpole, Cambridgeshire and Earl of Dorcehster’s mansion built on abbey’s ruins.

–      Both had a village moved (Budby and Milton Abbas)

Urban landscapes?

  • In England over 90% of the population live in 8.3% of the total land area.
  • So 91.7% of England is still rural.

— Rowley, 2006.

  • Within the urban landscape there are signs of continuous human activity.
  • And within the 91.7% we can find signs of human activity.
  • The landscape as a palimpsest of human activity.

— Hoskins, 1955

After the lecture, we walked to the centre of Highfield Campus and looked down into the river valley. Using four maps from 1870 up until 1980, we looked at how the landscape had changed and discovered that the campus had been allotments, and also a brick quarry, explaining the unusual terrain.

On returning to the classroom, Gareth talked through some ways to survey the landscape. We’ll be building on this part of the session in Session 11, when we look at Maps and Archaeology. So many of the tools noted below will be described in more detail when we next meet.

Part 1 of this session dealt with:

  • Introduction to landscape archaeology
  • What constitutes landscape? i.e. natural/human agricultural/built
  • Theoretical approaches to landscape archaeology

Getting the Lay of the Land

  • Recording the Archaeological Landscape
  • Part 1 of 2

Spatial Data and Archaeology

Disclaimer: This is not specifically urban!

  1. A brief history of spatial data in archaeology
  2. Types of Spatial Data and How they are Captured
  3. Mapping and Surveying – How to
  4. Using Spatial Data…

Survey and Archaeology

  • Renaissance Maps and Taxation
  • The Ordnance Survey
  • Aerial Photographs
  • Space Age Techniques

Topographic Survey

  • The origins of modern landscape archaeology
  • More next week!

Topographic Survey How does it work?

  • GPS

Aerial/Satellite Photography

  • Pioneered in the 1910s
  • OGS Crawford
  • Huge archives of material

Satellite Imagery

  • High Coverage and Cheap (sort of)
  • Resolution issues for archaeology.
  • Geo-Sat 1 has a resolution of 0.41m pp

Vertical or Oblique?

  • Vertical (Above)
  • Oblique (Right)

Sources of Aerial Imagery

You may be interested in this short film, produced by the Ordnance Survey, that outlines the entire process of creating an OS map, in the 1960s:


Session 9 – Cemeteries

Last week we looked at cemeteries and how they fit into the idea of Urban Archaeology. We discussed the ways that cemeteries and graveyards had developed over time, beginning with burial grounds and ending with today’s municipal cemeteries. We used the example of St. Winifred’s Church in Branscombe to talk about how the development of a community and a church can be traced through time by looking at the locations of graves in a graveyard.

Gareth gave examples of different types of headstones that you might find in a graveyard or cemetery, and we talked about how different time periods can be identified from key features found on headstones and memorials.

We used printouts from the Council of Scottish Archaeology’s handbook for recording graveyards, and also worked through their recording and condition survey sheets for headstones. This handbook really is worth printing and taking with you if you plan to visit and record a graveyard or cemetery. It is free and available online (see the Powerpoint below for more information).

As an exercise, we all had a go at identifying periods of a selection of graves that we had removed the dates from.

This is the presentation that we gave:

Session 8 – Domestic Archaeology and Architecture

Here is the powepoint presentation for Domestic Archaeology which we covered in the first part of Week 8. It was a bit of a squeeze getting a big topic like this down into a 1 hour session and we covered a lot in a short space of time. There is quite a lot of optional additional reading associated with this weeks topic which may be helpful if you are interested in finding out more about the archaeology of the domestic environment.

The key concept which we looked at in this class was the changing nature of public and private space and the different ways in which people adapt the spaces which they live in order to suit thier lifestyles. On the one hand, the kinds of buildings we build can tell us a lot about the way in which we live, take for example the medival hall house and compare it to the 1960s flat. However, we also saw that the buildings people have do not neccessarily suit the lifestyle which they want to have. Because of this buildings are constanly changed. Examples of this include the compartmentalisation of medival hall houses and the widespread construction of extensions to Victorian terraced houses.

Session 8 Add-on – Genealogy and Family History

As an add-on to Session 8, we will be talking about Family History and Genealogy. This topic isn’t included in the Urban Archaeology topic outline for the module, but as a class you have expressed an interest in options for researching family history using online resources and databases and also in identifying open source, free or low cost options. So that’s exactly what this presentation aims to do!

Urban Archaeology: Session 8 (Add-on) – Genealogy & Family History

Genealogy & Family History

  • Genealogy…

o   The construction of a family tree through research

  • Family History is…

o   The writing of a biography of a series of related ancestors of common genealogy


o   GENUKI Includes details of County Record Offices

o   Cyndi’s List LOTS of useful links to software, databases and resources

o   Genealogy Mailing Lists by John Fuller

o   LookupUK Resource Centre for finding friends or relatives

  • Gov’t repositories:

o   General Register Office

o   The National Archives

  • Libraries:

o   British Library for Family Historians

o   National Library of Scotland

o   National Library of Wales

o   National Library of Ireland

  • National Repositories:

o   College of Arms

o   National Maritime Museum – PORT. Catalogue of maritime-related resources

o   ArchivesHub – 20,000 archives in UK’s universities and colleges

o   ARCHON (Archives On-line). – Managed by the National Archives

o   British History Online – British historical sources, inc. text and information about people, places and businesses from the 12th century to the present day. Built by the Institute of Historical Research and the History of Parliament

o   Moving Here – a National Archive initiative of 150,000 free images. Mostly from four communities coming into Britain since 1800s: Jewish, Irish, Caribbean, South Asian

  • Useful Organisations:

o   Federation of Family History Societies.

o   Scottish Association of Family History Societies

o   Family History Societies – More Family History Societies indexed at GENUKI

o   New England Historic Genealogical Society, oldest and largest genealogical society in the USA

o   Institute of Heraldic & Genealogical Studies

o   The Heraldry Society – covers heraldry, armory, chivalry, genealogy and allied subjects

o   The Heraldry Society of Scotland

o   AGRA – Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives

  • Online Databases:

o – entire copy of the indexes of Births, Marriages and Deaths for England and Wales from 1837 to 2001 – small charge for copies

o   Family Search site (LDS Church) – largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records

o   The Origins Network – 80 million + British and Irish genealogical records

o   Commonwealth War Graves Commission Debt of Honour Register – personal and service details for the 1.7 million members of the Commonwealth forces who died in the First or Second World Wars

o   Burke’s Peerage and Gentry – genealogical records of Britain’s titled and landed families throughout the centuries. Good for terms related to British history, society and tradition

o   The Royal Welch Fusiliers Museum at Caernarfon

o   The Monumental Brass Society – brasses and the MBS’s activities

o   Police Orders – police orders of police officers serving in London’s Metropolitan Police Service. From 1891-1895 and 1899-1932. Includes joined, resigned, retired, died, transfers and medals.

o   The Bookplate Society

o   Naval Biographical Database – People and ships associated with the Royal Navy since 1660. Charges.

o   Vision of Britain – by Great Britain Historical Geographic Information System (GBH GIS).  Uses 200 years of UK Census statistics, assorted historic maps and gazetteers and the observations of travel writers from as early as the 11th century

  • Get someone to do it for you!
  • General resources relating to a whole county:
  • Costs money. Useful if you’re coming up against Latin texts!
  • Association of Genealogists Researchers in Archives (AGRA) has a list of members who will do research,

Types of Resources

o   Bibliographies

o   Clergy

o   Histories

o   Maps

o   Newspapers

o   Place Names

o   Record Office Guides

o   Visitations

o   Wills – some online at , then try National Will Index at . Most have to be accessed from (can be expensive).

  • Local:

o   Local histories, church guides, etc.

  • Registers:

o   Births, marriages, deaths, held by General Register Office (1837 onwards). Each certificate costs just under £10. More and more available free through: Paid online versions available here:,,, or

o   General indexes such as Boyd’s Marriage Index and the International Genealogical Index. Before the mid-1800s, you can look at parish registers, some go back to 1500s. Many non-conformist registers here: and

o   There is the International Genealogical Index (IGI) – An index of c.800 million births, baptisms and marriages from around the world, at

o   Name indexes. E.g. Census indexes for England and Wales on The National Archives website, Scottish census indexes at Scotland’s People, Irish censuses,

  • Monumental Inscriptions
  • Censuses

o   1911,1901,1891, 1881, 1871,1861 1851, 1841.  Often microfilms or microfiche of census returns held by County Record Offices, Local Libraries or the Society of Genealogists. A complete set for England and Wales, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands is free at The National Archives in Kew,  The Scottish returns for 1841 to 1911 are available at Scotland’s People Centre in Edinburgh,

  • Lists:

o   Lists of people living in counties such as Directories and Poll Books (those who voted in Parliamentary elections, 1690s onwards).

o   Provincial town trade directories – including street lists, such as Kelly’s Directory. Available from 1770s onwards.

o   National and county trade directories. Available from 1780s onwards. More details from 1840s onwards.

Family History – Beginners’ guides



o   Herber, M. 2005. Ancestral Trails, Alan Sutton

o   Barrat, N. 2008. Who Do You Think You Are? Encyclopedia of Genealogy, Harper Collins

§  E.g. The Hampshire Genealogical Society

Family History – Major websites

  • Major Websites:






o   National Archives Discovery website

Family History – Finding support

  • Social Network Sites:

o   Roots Web Mailing Lists

o   The Guild of One-Name Studies – Register the surnames you are researching to see if anyone else is doing the same thing!

Family History – On your computer

  • Data formats:

o   GENCOM (most common)

o   GedML (XML-based)

o   FamilyML (XML-based)

  • Don’t worry if you’ve been using a spreadsheet up until now!
  • GRAMPS – free, but bit of work needed initially to learn how to use

Software to build family trees


  • FamilyTreeBuilder – free, with paid Premium version (that you can sign up to at any point in using the free version). Easy to use, very popular


  • GEDitCOM II – free, this software is for Macs


  • Web Family Tree – free, really easy to use


Software to visualise family trees

  • Geneaquilts – advanced, great for visualising large genealogy datasets


  • Misbach Enterprises – specialises in making family tree charts. They generally charge for this service, but there are some nice free charts you can download and use


Software to visualise family trees

  • GedView – a way to look through GEDCOM files on your PC. If you’ve downloaded or been sent any files from other researchers, you can use this software to navigate the data


  • GedView for iPads, iPhones, etc. – costs £2.49, great to look at your work on a mobile device


Software to share family trees

  • Websites:

o   GED-GEN for making websites, works with any GEDCOM files

The powerpoint presentation:

Session 7 – Archaeologists and Objects

This week we looked at how archaeologists deal with objects. Archaeologist, Sarah Coxon visited us and ran a practical session on object analysis. Sarah’s blog that charts her own research is here:

Part One

I began the session talking about how the idea of objects and artefacts as ways to tell us about the past fitted into the idea of Urban Archaeology.

There is much more on the end of this powerpoint that we did not cover. I’ve added it on to the end as a useful reference point for you, should you wish to find out more about reading objects.

The presentation:

Part Two

Sarah also gave a short presentation on objects and the different aspects of society that they can tell us about.

During the second part of the session, Sarah covered different types of objects, such as ceramics, stone, and biological matter. We discussed the effects of time on objects, and looked at some fascinating examples of various degrees of decomposition of artefacts.

After the presentation we had a tour of the ceramics laboratory and the petrology laboratory. We then looked at some examples of worked flint and also ceramics, and as a group went through the process of recording of a sherd of ceramic, using an example of a recording sheet that Sarah had brought along with her.

Session 6 – Industrial Archaeology

Cranes at Bristol Docks

A towering example of industrial archaeology, but not all examples are so monumental.

This week we looked at how Industrial Archaeology can shape our understanding of the development of the city and it’s people. The key topics covered in the lecture were as follows:

a)      Industrial Archaeology is highly variable in nature depending on the nature of the industry which has existed in the area of study and the period during which this industry has been active.

b)      Industrial Archaeology can be difficult to interpret without sources which give us insights into how industrial sites functioned.

c)       Industrial Archaeology is a history not just of buildings and machines but of entire communities.

The class began with a discussion of the origins of industrial archaeology in the 1950’s the term is thought to have been coined by Donald Dudley, a lecturer at the University of Birmingham (Hudson 1963:11). Originally the term seemed implicitly to relate to the increasingly abandoned industrial architecture which was left over from the Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th Centuries and which at this point was beginning in many cases to fall into major decay. This narrow definition of the term has now largely been abandoned in favour of a definition which encompasses a wider range of industrial or pre-industrial activities relating to commerce and industry

We then went on to discuss the different types of evidence which we can employ in order to research industrial archaeology. In the first place we have the material remains, sometimes this is all that survives, this is particularly true of smaller scale or very ancient sites like the Neolithic flint mines at Grimes Graves on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. In the second place we have historical evidence, this can of course be very ancient (such as documentary evidence relating to the functioning of a Roman Harbour) but the volume of available material increases as we get closer to the present. In the case of very recent industrial sites we are often able to acquire sources such as oral histories.

Recovering an Industrial Past

The first example of industrial archaeology we looked at was the Roman Harbour complex at Portus (find out more here: This is a fascinating archaeological example in the sense that it is ancient (construction beginning in the 1st Century AD and habitation continuing into the medieval) but it also fulfils many of the characteristics of an industrial site. Portus is also a good example of a site which is very rich in material evidence (we have no shortage of buildings or artefacts!) but from which we have very few reliable first-hand accounts. We are attempting to piece together the history of a site and its people through the study of the material which they left behind.

In the case of Portus this presents us with some incredible insights; we are able to see the mooring posts around the edges of the harbour and see the baths which some of the residents or officials may have spent their leisure time. However, we are left with many elementary questions relating to matters of such significance as where the population of workers required for a harbour of this scale might have lived. These problems are compounded by the fact that the site was in use as a harbour for more than 600 years. It is easy to imagine that Roman sites had a single purpose and a short life but think about how many changes the 600 year old buildings we use have gone through and you will begin to get a sense of how complex these buildings can be to study.

We use all of the methods at our disposal in order to carefully document our excavations at a site like this. Excavation is expensive and time consuming and it is essential that we record everything which we uncover in as great detail as we can. Consequently we use cutting edge technologies such as laser scanning as well as traditional forms of archaeological excavation to ensure that we document the excavation as it proceeds.

Documenting Industrial History

Many of the challenges of this kind of archaeology can be alleviated through documenting our industrial history while it is still within living memory. Techniques such as the recording of oral histories can provide archives which future generations will rely upon to interpret buildings and communities which are second nature to us.

Consider for example the changes which have taken place across the British landscape as a result of the collapse of extractive industries such as coal and tin mining. Landscapes in places like the English midlands, South Wales and Cornwall have been permanently altered, no longer looking at all as they did even 40 years ago. With these changes have also come changes in communities with the immediate memory of these extractive industries gradually being lost as people move away and older generations die.

Several projects have sought to document this history, either through the preservation of architecture or through the preservation of other sources such as the oral histories of those who worked in the industries.

Technique of the Week: Oral History

There are many ways to study the industrial past. Most of the techniques already covered including the consultation of archives, online collections and even the study of churches can tell us a great deal about industrial sites and the communities which surrounded them. The technique which we covered this week was Oral History. Oral histories allow us to capture testimonies from people who often don’t feature in conventional historical records. They can provide a rich and insightful picture of life and events in the past.

Oral histories can be subjective and contradictory, based as they are upon the memories of individual people. However, taken as a collection they can provide a reliable and unique source of data. Furthermore, and equally importantly, they provide a sense of how the people who were there felt about the subject you are studying.

Further Reading

Documentation of recent industrial history is extremely easy to begin with a great deal of advice available to potential researchers. Below are some links which may be useful:

Oral History

The Oral History Society provide advice on how to begin your oral history project. They also provide hosting for a small fee

The British Library Sound Archives contain oral histories on many subjects. Many of the best examples of speakers talking about industrial life can be found in the accents and dialects collection

The British Library also recommend many excellent sources of Oral Histories here:

Industrial Archaeology

The UK Association for Industrial Archaeology – lots of good advice on carrying out industrial archaeology projects. The Association also issue a number of grants which can be applied for annually –

Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society – an active society that holds regular meetings. They also have a journal to which industrial archaeology projects of local significance can be submitted –

Further Reading

Palmer, M., Nevell, M. and Sissons, M. (2012) Industrial Archaeology: A Handbook. Council for British Archaeology

Hudson, K. (1963) Industrial Archaeology London: John Baker


Session 5 – Historical Archives: Archaeologists and Text

On the 1st November we visited the Hartley Library and were met by the Senior Archivist and the Special Collections Librarian. We were shown the latest temporary exhibition on display in the archives section of the library, and were given an introduction to the Cope Collection.

You can read about the Cope Collection here:

We did a quick run round the library, introducing other sources of information, including the map collection and the microfiche collection.

In the group study room, we talked a little about the different ways that archaeologists and historians look at primary and secondary sources, covering in particular the importance of using object-driven approaches for archaeologists in understanding a source.

Some of the session was spent discussing material culture studies and how useful this is for source analysis, with a brief foray into post-processual archaeology looking at Tilley’s approach to reading rock art as ‘text’.

Presentation below.

We also discussed the many different methodologies for analysing a textual source, and how most of them included the questions: What? Who? Why? Where? When? The worksheet below is just one method for analysing a text. It uses questions from the SCIM-C method of source analysis.

Session 4 – Historical Archives: The Historian’s Perspective

On Thursday, 25th October, Dr. Adam Chapman, a specialist in Medieval History, very kindly delivered a session looking at the use of historical archives for historians.  Dr. Chapman has provided copies of the PowerPoint presentation that he delivered as part of the session, and also the information sheet that he handed out.


A big thank-you to Dr. Chapman for this session!

Session 3 – Churches

Religious Buildings in the Urban Landscape

This week we talked about religious buildings in the urban landscape. We began the session with a visit to Highfield Church, where we looked at how changes in the stucture of the building could offer clues relating to the changes in the local community that the church served. In this case the church showed signs of constant expansion during the late Victorian period as the city of Southamptons suburbs grew. We then came back to the lab and looked at how different religious buildings offer different insights into the changing nature of urban societies and the built environments that they inhabit. Finally we introduced some of the resources and skills neccessary in order to create or modify a record in a local Historical Environment Record. This is an excellent way of contributing to the archaeologial record for an area.   


Presentation Notes

Slide 2) St. Nicholas’ church, Little Horwood,  © Copyright Jonathan Billinger and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Slide 3) Religious buildings within an urban context can take many forms and can occur in a range of contexts. The nature of a religious building can tell us a great deal about the communities which it served. Furthermore, in the fabric of religious buildings we are often able to identify and to track the changes and developments which characterise urban history.

The following presentation will look at a range of religious buildings in Southampton. It will particularly focus on buildings in the northern suburbs of Bassett, Highfield, Portswood and St Denys. These buildings each highlight a different way in which the study of church buildings can reveal the history of the neighbourhoods within which they are situated.

Slide 4) Our first example is All Saints Church on Winchester Road in Bassett. This church is an excellent example of a ‘Tin Tabernacle’ church which could be ordered from a catalogue from the mid 19th Century onwards. This example is thought to date from the turn of the century.  The materials used in the construction of this church (primarily galvanised corrugated iron) mean this style of church is quintessentially industrial in nature.  They were relatively cheap to produce and as such regularly served the needs of rapidly the rapid expansions and shifts in population which characterised the industrial revolution and expansion of the British Empire. In this case the church is thought to have been built to cater to the spiritual needs of the workers from the nearby brickworks.

For more information you might look at this very comprehensive page:

Slide 5) The Building has changed but the institution remains. Since the 1970s All Saints Church has been in this building. It maintains many of the social characteristics of the original 19th Century institution and incorporates a dual function as a social space and a church.

Slide 6) this Primitive Methodist Chapel in St. Denys tells us a great deal about the communities who lived in this area during the 19th century. Primitive Methodism was a religion with its origins in the potteries of the Midlands and found popularity within working class communities. Chapels were often built with donations and subscriptions from the congregation and can often be found within the communities they served.  It is believed that the community which built this chapel existed for a considerable time prior to the construction of this chapel.

Slide 7)  St. Boniface Church Catholic in Shirley was built in 1927. It is remarkable for its ornate style (described in the Southampton HER as being ‘neo-byzantine’) and for the fact that it is built entirely from brick. This is an apt choice of material considering the predominance of brick production in Hampshire. The presence of a Catholic church of this magnitude is testament to the religious mix which has characterised Southampton during the 20th Century.

Slide 8) Another view of St. Boniface Church

Slide 9) St Denys Church is Anglican and was built in 1867 to cater to the growing suburban population of Southampton. The church accommodated 7-800 people and was built to alleviate overcrowding at Highfield church which to this point had served the entire area. The church is a good example of Victorian civic architecture and was designed by George Gilbert Scott, the architect responsible for Kings Cross station in London. This church represents a striking contrast to the modest Methodist chapel nearby (slide 5) and demonstrates the profound differences in religious practice in this area in the late 19th Century

Slide 10) Internal views of St Denys Chruch

Slide 11) The Victory Centre Gospel church on Portswood High street is a recent addition to Southampton’s religious landscape. It was once the Broadway theatre. Built in 1930 the theatre soon found a new use as an ABC Cinema before becoming a Bingo hall from the 1960s. the re-use of this building as a church is testament to the fact that changes in religious practice are still capable of impacting upon the urban landscape. This phase of the buildings use will inevitably impact upon the fabric of the building and will be a lasting reminder of this phase of Southampton’s history.

Slide 12) The ABC Cinema during the mid 1960s

Slide 13) Internal view of the building today

Slide 14) This building formerly known as Swaythling Methodist Church on Burgess Road is now a multi-church partnership known as 286. It was built in 1931 as part of the re-development (and expansion) of much of suburban Southampton led by architect Herbert Collins. The building was designed by Collins in the Methodist ‘Central Hall’ style and was supposed to offer a range of social activities as well as religious services. The main hall was equipped to operate as a cinema!

The church fulfils much the same function as it always has done. However, the church is no longer exclusively Methodist and is shared with other religious groups.

Slide 15) An interior view of the main hall, note the vast scale of the space and also the range of international flags which reflect the cosmopolitan nature of the current congregation.

Slide 16) The current Methodist congregation now meet in this smaller hall within the same complex. The use of these buildings remains essentially unchanged but the religious character of the community has altered. These subtle changes in use are evident at present but are the kind of details which are quickly lost, highlighting the need for on-going documentation.

Slide 17) Re-use of St Lukes Church in Bevois Valley as a Gurdwara in 1983 reflected changes which had taken place in the balance of populations in nearby St. Marys and Newtown. These changes will leave their marks on the material of these buildings and may give archaeologists of the future clues as to how Southampton’s population developed during this period. It is interesting to consider what the fate of this building might have been had it not been re-used as a communal and religious space.

Slide 18) Gurdwara Nanaksar, also in Bevois Valley provides a striking reminder of the change in character which the religious architecture of Southampton underwent during the 20th century. Whilst these buildings are likely to leave a significant impression on the architectural record it is important to remember that the Sikh community for many years relied upon the use of less dramatic buildings such as the large townhouse which now houses the nearby University of the 3rd Age.  Archaeologically speaking this is a story reminiscent of the development of Primitive Methodist chapel and provides a vivid reminder that we should look beyond the buildings themselves when we consider the religious history of a city.

Slide 19) A Mosque being built on Portswood Road represents the formation of a new phase in the development of religious architecture in Southampton.

Here are the presentation notes as a document that you can download:


Recording a Church

Building recording is often one of the major activities for an archaeologist working with standing buildings. The programme of work on a building/complex and the setting of that building/complex can include:

  • Character
  • History
  • Dating
  • Form
  • Development

The outputs of a building survey should take the form of a set of drawings, an archive and a report.

Introduction to Standards and Guidance in Archaeological Practice (ISGAP) has good advice on what form a building survey should take.


Submitting a record to a HER

How does the HER work?

Gilman and Newman’s site Informing the Future of the Past has guidelines for people who work with HERs and is very useful as a general manual.

Informing the Future of the Past:

Is there already a record?

To find out what is already on the HER, visit the Heritage Gateway as this links to all of the HER’s in England.

Heritage Gateway:

Is the HER the right place to submit my data?

English Heritage has selection guides, which will help to identify whether the site that you have collected information on is suitable for the HER.

English Heritage Selection Guides:

You can submit to the HER directly via the local authority under which the monument/building falls, or you can submit to OASIS.  OASIS is a project that aims to be the primary means for reporting archaeological fieldwork. The OASIS feeds information to the HERs, the NMR Excavation Index, and to the AIP, which is a project that is reviewing the kinds of archaeological fieldwork that has taken place in England.  OASIS also collects Grey Literature (which is literature such as archaeological reports that are not easily searchable on the internet) for archaeological fieldwork, and this is available through the ADS’s Unpublished Fieldwork Reports pages.

There is also the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), which has a database of portable antiquities. You can submit objects that you have recorded to this site, as long as they are over 300 years old and are not from an archaeological investigation on a site.


NMR Excavation Index:


ADS Unpublished Fieldwork Reports:

Portable Antiquities Scheme:

Filling in the HER

What should I include in the description?

Most local authorities will have a standard form to fill in for an admission to the HER they manage.  These are the core fields recommended by Informing the Future of the Past (IFP) for a monument record:

  • HER number: a number which uniquely identifies the monument record in the HER
  • Other identifiers: reference numbers for the monument in external records, for example Scheduled Monument (SM) number
  • Monument name: a descriptive name by which the monument can be identified
  • Monument type: an index to the type or character of the monument represented on the site
  • Evidence: physical or documentary evidence for the existence of the monument
  • Period/date: the maximum and minimum dates/periods of the monument being described
  • Grid reference: an OS grid co-ordinate locating the monument
  • Administrative unit: the administrative area in which the monument falls, for example county/district/parish
  • Description: a text description about the monument
  • Monument status: a reference to any protection status that the monument has, for example II* Listed
  • Event number: monuments should be linked to relevant event records
  • Source number: all monuments should have at least one link to a source record.

Lancashire County Council has a very comprehensive guide to how to fill in a HER record.  They recommend that you need to find out the following information:

  • Where the site is
  • What the site looks like
  • What you think it might be
  • What its date may be
  • Who recorded it and when

Lancashire County Council HER Guidance:

Where the site is

Provide a National Grid Reference (NGR) for the site.  There are lots of different ways to find a NGR, most maps will give you guidance at the bottom of how to do this. If you know other information about the site, such as the postcode, or the latitude and longitude (which can be found by putting a pin into Google Maps), then you can use the Grid Reference Finder to create the NGR for you.

Google Maps:

Grid Reference Finder:

Say what the site is called, with an address. Be as specific as possible. Do not say ‘near to Burley’, but do say ‘200m north of the Ringwood Road junction with Pound Lane and The Cross’.

Give a brief summary of the site. ‘A large stone, possibly a boundary marker.’

The name and the summary is what most people will read, so these combined should tell someone what the site is.

What the site looks like

Give a description of the site. This should be descriptive, but not give information about interpretation yet. Be as brief as possible, but it is better to give a description than to make an assumption about the function of something. So ‘large piece of flint’ is better than ‘boundary stone’.

Lancashire CC suggests asking these questions for this section: Is the site part of a wider landscape or complex of features (such as a bell pit in a coal mining area)? Is it in good condition or ruined? Is there any active erosion or other threat?

Think about what evidence you have for this site. Did you find it on a map, or did you find it when out walking? This will affect how you describe it. ‘Find location’ or ‘Documentary Evidence’. If it is documentary evidence, then say here what the document was.

What you think it might be

This is your opportunity to give an interpretation of the site. If you give an interpretation, try to also say how you came to this conclusion.  Try to use the standardised vocabulary from the thesauri for your description.

Here is the example from the Lancashire CC page:

‘The stone is situated between the Aardvark Fell estate and that of Beeswax Fold. It has no hinge holes or other indications that it may have been used as a gate post, nor is it tall enough for this. It seems most probable that it represents a former boundary stone. The Beeswax estate was established about 1825 (Smith, A, 2001 ‘ History of Anglezarke’ p.23) so the stone must post-date this.’

What its date may be

This may be a single date, a range of dates, or a description. i.e. 1932, 1914-18, Bronze Age.

You may find for this part that the HER record form that you are filling in has standardised fields which comply with the local authority’s HER database. This is where the standardised vocabularies from the thesauri described later in this resource sheet come in useful.  Usual fields are ‘Type’, ‘Period’ and ‘Date’.

To find out additional information about a site, such as whether it is listed or not, a good place to start is often the online GIS for a local authority. In the instance of Southampton City Council, there is an online GIS map, where you will find bomb crater maps, listed buildings, conservation areas, areas of archaeological significance, etc.

Southampton City Council online map:

The National Heritage List for England has all buildings that are listed in England, so check here for listed information.

National Heritage List for England:

Who recorded it and when

Tell the local authority who you are, and when this site was recorded. The information does not go into the HER normally.


It is also very useful if you can provide some photographs of the site to accompany the record.

Example Monument Report

Provided by the Lancashire CC.

Site Number 1
Name 100m east of Winkley Barn, Aardvark Fell, Anglezarke Moor
Summary Large stone, possibly a boundary marker
NGR SD 6379718218 (GPS)
Description Large grey stone, c.1m high and 30cm square, standing alone on the edge of a field 100m south east of Winkley Barn. The west face has the initials ‘AF’ carved deeply near the top, and the east face has the initials ‘BF’. Site seen during walk. The stone is situated between the Aardvark Fell estate and that of Beeswax Fold. It has no hinge holes or other indications that it may have been used as a gate post, nor is it tall enough for this. It seems most probable that it represents a former boundary stone. The Beeswax estate was established about 1825 (Smith, A, 2001 ‘History of Anglezarke’ p.23) so the stone must post-date this.
Type Boundary Stone
Period Post Medieval
Date Post 1825
Evidence Structure
Recorder & Date A A Aardvark, 99 Marsupial Street, Accrington, AC1 2XY
T. 0123 456789 E.
Recorded 3 July 2004
Photos OLY8765.jpg, OLY7654.jpg

Monument Report Exercise

Try to complete your own HER record for Highfield Church. Begin at the Highfield Church website:

HER number: a number which uniquely identifies the site record in the HER

[This will be given to the record once it has been added to the HER.]

Monument name: a descriptive name by which the site can be identified

Monument summary: a description of the site

Grid reference: an OS grid co-ordinate locating the site

Description: a text description about the site. Try to use as much standardised vocabulary as you can

Monument type: an index to the type or character of the monument represented on the site

Evidence: physical or documentary evidence for the existence of the site

Period and/or date: the maximum and minimum dates/periods of the site being described

Administrative unit: the administrative area in which the site falls, for example county/district/parish

Monument status: a reference to any protection status that the site has, for example II* Listed

Data Standards and Glossaries for HERs

English Heritage has an index of thesauri for National Monuments Record, which you should use to create a record of a building.

English Heritage National Monuments Record Thesauri:

The thesauri that you are likely to find most useful are the Monument Types list, the Building Materials list, the mda’s Archaeological Objects list, and FISH.  FISH is the Forum on Information Standards in Heritage, and is a vocabulary managed by the Council for British Archaeology (CBA). It has two major standards MIDAS and INSCRIPTION. MIDAS is a  INSCRIPTION is a collection of lists of words that are for the standardisation of inventory databases. If you are creating a database for an archaeological project, you will find it very useful.



MIDAS has words like ‘Condition Date –The date when an assessment of the condition of a Heritage Asset was made.’ And ‘Production Method – The primary means used to manufacture an artefact.’


INSCRIPTION includes lots of different types of wordlists:

  • Simple wordlists which are useful to classify a site. Such as ‘Good – all or nearly all features of interest are well preserved for the period they represent. No sign of active damage.’
  • Hierarchical which are organised into a hierarchy, such as ‘excavation’ à ‘open area excavation’ à ‘trial trench’.
  • Complex which are list with lots of components, such as ‘post medieval’ à ‘default minimum date: 1540’ and ‘default maximum date: 1900’.
  • Thesauri which support different types of relationship so that terms can be hierarchical and related to other terms, such as ‘barrow’ being a broad term for ‘round barrow’, or ‘football ground’ and ‘football pitch’ being related terms.

Each thesaurus has a slightly different configuration and convention. All of the thesauri through the EH NMR Thesauri site use the following abbreviations:

Use Preferred Term
UF Use For
SN Scope Note
CL Class name
BT Broad Term
NT Narrow Term
RT Related Term

These make a lot more sense when you see them next to the record itself.  For example, the thesaurus class for RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY terms has the following record for a ‘Font’:

UF Submersion Font
SN A vessel, usually made of stone, which contains the consecrated water for baptism. Use a broader monument type if possible.

In the Font example, a Subversion Font should also be referred to with the term Font. The Scope Note gives us more information, telling us that the Font is a vessel made of stone, containing water for baptism. The Class Name is RELIGIOUS RITUAL AND FUNERARY, so that we remember which class the term falls under. The Related Term is BAPTISTERY.

Informing the Future of the Past also has a very good index of online data standards.

Informing the Future of the Past Data Standards:

Download the worksheet for HER: