The online resource for the historic environment

1.08 Recording

To assist your understanding of this Unit see BS 7913: 2013
para 8.3 "Recording"

The process of recording follows on from archival research and information gathering and provides additional evidence of a physical nature to back up and support the archive for future reference.
The need for accurate recording of a site of cultural significance is twofold. Firstly, to fully understand the nature of a building and its physical development - all aspects of its physical form need to be assessed. Accurate survey drawings can give valuable information about a building’s development that might, otherwise, go undetected. Building archaeology is a useful science in this regard.

Any new work will require recording. This to assist future intervention works and to provide a record for future use.

Secondly, comprehensive records should be kept throughout any project as a means of recording change and alteration for future generations. The method of recording should be specific to the requirements of each project.

Completing the process of recording provides a synthesis of archive material which,

  1. helps you to identify what to look for in your physical investigation (by back reference) and,
  2. can be combined with the results of physical investigation to give an overall up to date situation report.

It also helps reduce the hazard of a conjectural response to understanding works of intervention for future reference and analysis.

At a management decision level you should always ask yourself the question: What level of recording is fit for the purpose of this building and my involvement with it.

Consider a methodology for recording an historic building

You might want to reflect on the manner and method of recording the building and you should consider what documents might be incorporated, where these might usefully be stored and also think about what outside consultants/ might be involved in the process of recording. Consider also a methodology for storage of records in suitable archival repositories.

To assist you may wish to look at:
Morriss, R, K. (2001) The Archaeology of Buildings- Tempus Publishing (Part III Recording the Evidence chapters 7, 8 & 9)
Historic Scotland (2003) Guide for Practitioners 4: Measured Survey and Building Recording for Historic Buildings and Structures
See also Wood, J. (1996) Record Making and the Historic Environment
See also Stanbridge, R (1995) Photogrammetry – A Practical Guide

Further reading

ICOMOS Principles for the Recording of Monuments, Groups of Buildings and Sites
Clark, K (2001) Informed Conservation English Heritage, London (sections 7.3 & 7.5)
Morriss, R. K. (2001) The Archaeology of Buildings Tempus, Stroud (chapters 7 – 9 Recording the Evidence)
Building Conservation aticles: 1. Conservation and the Role of the Archaeologist. 2. Record Making. 3. BS 7913: 2013 Guide to the conservation of historic buildings

Washington National Park Service (1977) Emergency Recording – One step ahead of the wrecker’s ball p.41 – 42 for USA response.
Kerr, J et al (1989) Recording Standing Buildings English Heritage
Cooke, Findlay, et al (1996) Recording a Church: An illustrated glossary Handbook in Archaeology 7, Council for British Archaeology, York
Parsons, D (1998) Churches & Chapels: Investigating places of worship Handbook in Archaeology 8. Council for British Archaeology, York
The Ancient Monument Society (1988) The Recording of Threatened Buildings p. 28 – 45
English Heritage (2006)Understanding Historic Buildings: A guide to good recording practice English Heritage, London
Historic England (2015)Metric Survey Specifications for Cultural Heritage
English Heritage (1999) The Presentation of Historic Building Survey in CAD English Heritage, London
Mercer, E (1975) English Vernacular Houses RCHME. London
Swallow, P, Watt, D & Ashton, R (2002) Measurement & Recording of Historic Buildings Donhead Publishing
Alcock, N. W. et al (1996) Recording Timber Framed Buildings: an illustrated glossary Practical Handbook in Archaeology 5, Council for British Archaeology, York
Switsur, R (2001) Dating Technology Building Conservation Directory, Tisbury