The answer is, as pretty much always, ‘it depends’. Higher quality fit for purpose GIS datasets are important for the development of HERs and interoperability with other systems, but the lack of an adopted standard in England is frustrating. However we do have the work of the Scottish Royal Commission and two HER21 projects to guide us. A defined standard and an applicable benchmark would be beneficial and underpin the argument for access to the resources to get the work done in one batch, rather than piecemeal. However, some sites are always going to be poorly defined and at best only located to 4 or 6 figure references. Ultimately the combination of digital data and digitised hardcopy will have benefits which way outstrip the limitations.


Rob Edwards
Historic Environment Records Officer
Cheshire Archaeology Planning Advisory Service


Tel: 01244 973667

Email: [log in to unmask]

Location: The Forum, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2HS.


From: Issues related to Historic Environment Records [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Jenny Hall
Sent: 29 October 2013 12:57
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: B&A2013 - Welcome to the HER Benchmark and Audit Discussion


One question is how does the auditing and benchmarking actually ensure that a dataset is fit for purpose? 


This may sound a daft question but as an example we are currently finding that any one HER enquiry (typically for a 2km radius search area) is giving an error rate in the NGR of records of anywhere from1% up to 20-25% .  That includes records that are completely in the wrong place, ie many kilometres distant and ones that are "only" a few tens or hundreds of metres wrong.  Much of this has come from pushing a paper based, more intuitive record into the unforgiving digital environment but it is very hard to identify without going through record by record and checking.  Some errors might be caught by checking and changing 6 figure NGRs to 8 or 10 figure, but others would be very hard to detect.

How does benchmarking and auditing address this particular issue?  It is one that is of vital importance if we are to argue, that hand on heart, our HERs are worth having.


----- Original Message -----

From: [log in to unmask]">EDWARDS, Robert (Environment)

To: [log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]

Sent: Tuesday, October 29, 2013 12:17 PM

Subject: Re: B&A2013 - Welcome to the HER Benchmark and Audit Discussion



From my perspective I think there are three fundamental questions that the HER community needs to address first.


Do we need HER benchmarks?

I think this is a good question to ask and personally I think the answer is a resounding yes, but it’s fundamentally tied up with the answer to the second question.


What do we, as a community, want the HER benchmarks for?

I think that the HER benchmarks can be used to define what a HER or HER service is. Thanks to the NPPF access to a HER is now a requirement for a planning authority, but although we have a lot of guidance (IFP2 etc.), we seem to lack a full and proper definition. Personally I think this is important in helping us to protect our services at a time when discretionary spending in local authorities is under such pressure. I also feel that reporting our progress against the benchmarks helps inform those authorities supporting the HER as to the range and quality of the service which they are paying for. Furthermore, failure to reach a national benchmark or standard is valuable evidence when trying to garner support for HER development.


How do we measure ourselves against the benchmarks?

Personally I think the HER Audits should be an important part. The audit should provide the baseline data from which we can measure ourselves against the benchmarks, BUT we will still need some form of external moderation if we are to achieve a robust measurement. Should this be an integral part of the English Heritage audit or perhaps we could submit our assessment to our regional ALGAO HER groups for comment? With the latter, it does provide an opportunity to provide an ALGAO ‘stamp of approval’, the former English Heritage’s.


Best wishes




Rob Edwards
Historic Environment Records Officer
Cheshire Archaeology Planning Advisory Service


Tel: 01244 973667

Email: [log in to unmask]

Location: The Forum, Chester, Cheshire, CH1 2HS.

-----Original Message-----
From: Issues related to Historic Environment Records [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of MacLean, Sarah
Sent: 28 October 2013 08:05
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: B&A2013 - Welcome to the HER Benchmark and Audit Discussion


Dear all,


Today we are launching the HERs Benchmarks and Audits discussion here on HER Forum.  The discussion will remain open until 5pm on 15th November to ensure as many list members are able to participate as possible. For the background to this discussion please refer to my e-mail of last week -;620e7b93.1310 . Before we start I thought it would be useful to outline how we intend for this to work.


Last week we provided some broad themes we hope to cover in the course of the discussion. To help structure and focus the discussion, and to start things off, we have set out a number of specific questions at the end of this e-mail (although discussion is not limited to these).


As mentioned in my previous e-mail we have put a copy of the 2002 Benchmark report and the current Audit specification in the file area for reference. The files are in a folder called 'Benchmark and Audit Discussion' (see


The HER Forum list will still be open for business as usual so do feel free to post on other topics. To make it easier to follow the discussion please include B&A2013 in the subject line of your e-mail.


The HER Forum e-mail list is open to anyone with an interest in HERs and all list members are welcome to participate in the discussion. Please can you ensure that when you post, even as a reply, you sign off with your name and organisation (if applicable). Can I also take this opportunity to remind list members that the HER Forum archives are publically available online and can be read by non list members.


If you want to change your e-mail settings please use the HER Forum FAQ (available here for details on how to do this.


We always welcome feedback on the format of these discussions, what worked and what didn't. Please get in touch with me off list if you have any comments (including ideas for future topics) we can use to improve future discussions.


If you have any queries about this specific discussion, please get in touch with me off list.

The discussion is now open. To start off the discussion the questions we would like you to consider are:-


*   Do you currently use the benchmarks?

    *   If so, for what purpose?

    *   If you do not use the benchmarks, why?

*   How do you see development of the benchmarks going forward?

*   How do you see the inter-relationship between benchmarks and the HER audit process?

In your response it would be helpful if you could indicate if you have undertaken an audit, and if so when.


Over to you!


We hope you will all enjoy the discussion.


best wishes




Sarah MacLean MA MIfA

Heritage Information Partnerships Supervisor English Heritage Designations Department Engine House Firefly Avenue Swindon


E-mail: [log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]<mailto:[log in to unmask]>

Telephone: 01793 414880


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