We have received a response from English Heritage to Dr Sandy Gerrard’s first three articles on scheduling (Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). We reproduce it below in full. We understand Dr Gerrard may wish to respond to some of the points. In addition, any other constructive comments will be welcome.
The Scheduling of Archaeological Sites: A Response from English Heritage
These posts raise a number of important points as regards the scheduling regime which we respond to below. A longer response to Sandy Gerrard’s comments elsewhere can also be read in British Archaeology 122 (Jan/Feb 2012) (http://www.archaeologyuk.org/ba/ba122/feat2.shtml). English Heritage is committed to an increase in scheduling, in order that it continues to identify and protect sites that are truly of national importance.
- Many of the specific points stem from the introduction of the Unified Designation System and the National Heritage List for England. These are extremely complicated systems managing large data-sets, and they are still undergoing fine-tuning. Such inconsistencies and glitches within these systems are in the process of being rectified. These systems are leading to major improvements in the efficiency of the designation process, which in turn frees up time for more sites to be assessed.
- There remain great strengths in archaeological expertise within the Designation Department and areas of upskilling in terms of expertise, for example, in its knowledge of maritime and coastal archaeology. Most recently, a new Head of Central Casework and Programmes was appointed to the Department’s senior management team, and that post-holder, Joe Flatman, has extensive experience of archaeology, having formerly been the County Archaeologist of Surrey.
- How English Heritage chooses sites for scheduling is determined by the National Heritage Protection Plan. As of the 1st October 2012, the total number of scheduling recommendations (including additions, amendments, and deletions) submitted to DCMS in the first seven months of the 2012-13 financial year was 48, of which 19 were new sites. If the same rate of submissions is maintained for the remaining five months of this financial year, then in 2012-13 we will submit approximately 100 recommendations. The intention is to continue to increase this number. Revision of older scheduling entries will add considerably to the numbers of new designations as well.
- While scheduling is, was and will remain an important way of protecting archaeological sites, there are other ways of protecting archaeology beyond designation. The partnership of local authorities and communities is crucial to the protection of sites through local schemes of designation and recognition of importance. Such local schemes are often the only viable solution to the protection of archaeological sites discovered as a consequence of the development / planning system, of which only a small number of such sites have ever been suitable for inclusion on the schedule.
- Sandy has raised a number of individual cases with us. We shall be responding to him directly on these.
[For other articles in the series put Scheduling in the search box]