by Sandy Gerrard

Since January 2012, a total of 28 archaeological sites have been added to the Schedule of Ancient Monuments. This figure compares favourably with the same period last year when 17 sites were added. This represents the promised increase and although it is small at least this must be recognised as progress. Indeed when you consider that the designation output as a whole (which includes scheduling archaeology, listing buildings and the registration of battlefields and gardens) fell from 662 to 577 positive outcomes this represents a doubling of archaeological activity.

It’s amazing what you can do with numbers, but why has the overall figure fallen despite the introduction of a new and presumably fairly expensive computerised system? Recently EH stated that “We have improved our IT systems, enabling a 21st-century service to be provided” So why has the overall number of designations fallen and why does this new improved system seem to be incapable of dealing appropriately with archaeological designations or correspondence?

With regard to the scheduling request (Part One) the accompanying correspondence included a map that could not be opened and even more inexplicably two further copies of the Consultation Report intended for the farmer and not the applicant.   The systems employed in the 19th and 20th centuries were sufficient for this simple task so why does this now appear to be so difficult to achieve? Is it perhaps these kinds of difficulties that are contributing to EH’s apparent overall falls in productivity?


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