Hello! My name’s Ros and I work as a Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) Officer for the Midlands region of the National Trust.
The main responsibility for my role is to enhance and maintain the Trust’s Historic Buildings Sites and Monuments Record database (or HBSMR for short!) which essentially records all the archaeological sites and historic structures cared for by the National Trust. This is far more diverse than you might imagine – it’s not all country houses, gardens and tea rooms! The Trust is actually one of the largest landowners in the United Kingdom, looking after over 247,000 hectares (950 sq. mi) of land and 775 miles of coastline, and as such the archaeology we look after is really varied. It includes prehistoric monuments, deserted medieval settlements, post-medieval industrial remains and WW2 military training camps.
Over the past six months I have been systematically going through a number of properties across the Midlands trying to upgrade the GIS data from points to properly drawn archaeological features. I have been able to do this partly by using fieldwork survey data previously undertaken by the National Trust’s own archaeologists and external archaeological contractors, as well as other historic sources such as aerial photos and historic mapping.
This week I have been working on improving the data for a couple of properties – Attingham Park in Shropshire and Hanbury Hall in Worcestershire. As well as the usual source materials I have been using LiDAR data to identify new sites and accurately draw previously known features. It’s really important that we do all this enhancement work to ensure that our archaeological data is up-to-date as possible as it enables the Trust to effectively care for its heritage assets and make appropriate conservation management decisions. It also means we can provide accurate planning advice when, for instance, a new car park is needed at a property, or a historic structure needs restoring.
My other main project has been to help launch the Trust’s new Heritage Records Online website, which is a publically accessible version of our HBSMR database. There is a dual purpose to this new website – firstly, it’s to raise the profile of the archaeological sites under the Trust’s care to the general public, and to share the information we hold with them. Secondly, it is used by our fantastic volunteers who we have traipsing around our estates monitoring and taking photos of our archaeological sites to record their current condition. The site went live in May and we have received great feedback from users so far – if you would like to explore the website you can do so here.