Sites and Monuments Records and Historic Environment Registers
SMRs were established in local authorities across England from the 1960s to fulfil an increasingly important role in land-use planning. The number of SMRs increased, with the emergence of Urban Archaeological Databases, the creation of new unitary authorities following local government reorganisation and the development of SMRs by national parks, the National Trust and other land owners.
SMRs are a primary source of information on the local historic environment. They are fundamental to the conservation and management of the historic environment through the statutory planning system. They are also a valuable resource for education and research. SMRs hold databases and collections that cover archaeology and archaeological investigations from the prehistoric period to the 20th century. Many SMRs also hold information about listed buildings and other aspects of the historic environment for their areas. This holistic approach has seen the rise of the Historic Environment Register (HER) which allows a dynamic approach to heritage management, drawing on many data sets other than the point-type monument information.
The current non-statutory status of SMRs and HERs means that their funding and mode of operation varies greatly. For example, many SMRs do not hold data on sites or finds below the high water mark, except in cases where staff interest has prompted projects with a maritime focus.
Links to SMRs and HERs are often featured on county council and city council websites as part of planning information. An interactive map of local authority historic environment services can be accessed via the HELM website run by English Heritage.