A Day in the life of a Historic Environment Countryside Advisory Assistant

Apologies for being somewhat behind in my contribution. My name is Emily Hathaway and I am a part time Historic Environment Advisory Assistant at Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service and a mum of two young children. Last week I had to juggle work with school inductions (I am very lucky to have a fantastic manager and the ability to work flexibly) and was consequently unable to post on the 11th. My day of archaeology may not have been quite as exciting as some (I am predominately office based) but I believe that I, along with my local authority colleagues, play an important role in helping to manage and promote the historic environment of Worcestershire. Last Wednesday (I currently work Monday to Wednesday) was dominated by a large scale English Woodland Grant Scheme application which incorporated areas of registered park and garden. Environment Agency LiDAR, a relatively new dataset integrated within our HBSMR, revealed a previously unrecorded medieval field system (ridge and furrow) within the woodland compartments, which had all but disappeared from the surrounding farmed landscape. I added these earthworks to both our Historic Environment Record and SHINE (Selected Heritage Inventory for Natural England) datasets ensuring that they will now be considered in forestry operations. Within our organisation I am the principal contact for historic environment countryside advice and I advise farmers and landowners who are applying for agri environment schemes. Agri environment schemes are currently in a transitional phase, in advance of the new Rural Development Plan for England which will incorporate a New Environmental Land Management Scheme (NELMS), and my day of archaeology also incorporated preparation for the upcoming, Natural England led, local validation meeting. The local validation meetings are an opportunity for stakeholders (e.g. Natural England, Forestry Commission, Environment Agency, English Heritage, Historic Environment Records) to get together to discuss priorities and synergies (e.g. options which deliver multiple benefits). There’s an awful lot of ground to cover in a short space of time so I’ll be focussing on locally significant features considered to be at high risk and looking for management opportunities which will benefit both the historic environment, biodiversity and water framework directives. As well as day to day casework my role also encompasses a variety of project work. One project that I have been closely associated with over the past few years is the West Midlands Farmsteads and Landscapes Project which was conducted by English Heritage in collaboration with Advantage West Midlands. This project mapped and described the characteristics of traditional farmsteads throughout the West Midlands region, using late 19th or very early 20th century maps as a baseline for recording. This has enabled us, again in collaboration with English Heritage, to develop the Worcestershire Farmsteads Assessment Framework, a step by step guide to considering the reuse of traditional farm buildings and the sustainable development of farmsteads, through identifying their historic character, significance and potential for change. This framework is due to be published in September and I am currently organising a workshop to engage local Conservation Officers and Development Control Officers and promote the guidance. I’m very lucky in that my job combines two of my great loves, the rural landscape and tractors. Occasionally I even get to go out and visit some stunning farms!