Who are we?

The South Yorkshire Historic Environment Characterisation Project has been completed by the South Yorkshire Archaeology Service (SYAS). SYAS provides an archaeological advisory service to the four local authorities of South Yorkshire: Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield.

The project has been supported by English Heritage who have been funding a nationwide programme of Historic Characterisation since 1992. These projects are normally undertaken by county archaeological services like SYAS. Characterisation forms a natural extension of the records of sites and monuments kept by local authority archaeology services and used by them to help assess the impact of development proposals on the historic environment.  

Most of English Heritage’s work in this field has been termed Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) and has focussed on the historic development of rural areas. For towns and cities this work has been complemented by a programme of Extensive Urban Surveys (EUS) that look at urban locations. In South Yorkshire the decision was made to combine these two programmes of research into one unified project, under a new name of ‘Historic Environment Characterisation’ (HEC). This combined approach removes the artificial divide between rural and urban landscapes. An advantage of this approach is that it allows rural industrial and settlement activities to be assessed alongside the development of the towns where most of the workforce lived. Similar programmes using combined HLC and EUS methodologies are also being carried out in other metropolitan areas including Merseyside, Greater Manchester and the Black Country.

You can find out more about the work of English Heritage, the South Yorkshire Archaeology Service and a selection of other Historic Characterisation projects by following the web links in 'Links'.

English Heritage and local authorities across the country have been working together to investigate the history of our landscapes, in both town and country