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You may recall English Heritage recently issued a tender document with a view to assessing those scheduled monuments that may be at risk from arable cultivation. We suggested amateur enthusiasts could perhaps have a useful role to play.  Unfortunately we’ve heard nothing to indicate our suggestion might be being considered so in order to stir the pot we thought we’d be more specific about what amateurs could do. In particular it looks as if the effectiveness of Tasks 4 and 5 might well be greatly increased by public involvement: 

Task 4: Contact landowners and enter data – The owners of those `at risk’ monuments not under an existing English Heritage or Environmental Stewardship management agreement will be sent a letter explaining the survey together with a brief questionnaire based on that used for COSMIC 2 Stage 2. The questionnaire will elicit responses on past and future management regimes and will be used to fill in the Site Management Factors part of the COSMIC model.
Task 5: Interrogation of aerial photographs and LiDAR data – For those monuments where no response was obtained from the questionnaire or there is little relevant data from English Heritage, information on past and current management will be obtained by interrogating aerial photographs and LiDAR data held in the National Monuments Record at Swindon.

It seems from the above that the assessment of the condition of many “at risk” monuments will be ascertained by sending a questionnaire to the owners and/or looking at aerial photographs and LiDAR data -and there will be no eyewitness accounts from people that are both impartial AND visiting the sites! So surely, amateurs would be helpful in filling that very obvious gap, thereby providing useful, extra, up-to-date background information – and all for free? Isn’t this a golden opportunity for English Heritage to demonstrate that “Public Engagement” is more than just a slogan?

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