[Crm-sig] Character area concept

LEE, Edmund Edmund.Lee at english-heritage.org.uk
Tue Dec 19 17:40:29 EET 2006



I am currently managing a project to update the UK MIDAS standard - the
data standard for documentation of the historic environment. I am having
difficulty in describing one particular aspect that needs documentation,
and wondered if CRM thinking might assist.


The issue is projects that characterise (describe) the landscape. The
intention is to provide researchers, planners and developers with some
indication of the likely historic environment issues that need to be
addressed when working in a particular area. The professionals involved
contrast this work with the documentation of specific sites /
archaeological monuments / historic buildings that are the focus of most
historic environment documentation at present, but which leave 'gaps' in
between where the historic environment advisor has no information to


The technique is still evolving, but generally consists of dividing the
complete surface of the contemporary landscape (and sea-bed) into
polygons based either on arbitrary spatial reference systems (e.g. grid
lines) or a combination of natural and man-made physical and
administrative boundaries. Each area is described in terms of the
character of historical development or use of the area and the factors
affecting this.


Reviews of the technique as used at English Heritage are available at
http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/server/show/nav.1293 See the document
'Taking stock of the method'.


What I am interested in is what the status of the polygons defined by
characterisation technique is in CRM terms. They are not physical, like
for example a building is physical, and so do not fit neatly into the
'heritage asset' theme, in which I currently have them along with
'monuments' (in which I include large scale relict landscape features
such as hedgerows or abandoned field systems) and 'artefacts'. Yet they
have attributes which are similar - for example they are characterised
by settlement pattern, date / origin of boundaries etc. There may be
some subtle conceptual modelling that I am missing. Any thoughts from
the CRM would therefore be most welcome!


Best wishes


Edmund Lee

English Heritage

MIDAS project manager


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