The online resource for the historic environment

5.11 Monitoring and review

To assist your understanding of this Unit refer to BS 7913: 2013
para 8.3 "Project records."
Annex B "Conservation manuals, logbooks and four/five-yearly inspections."

The value that may be placed upon the historic environment as an historic record is priceless in presenting a vehicle to gain understanding of the procession of history. The fact that its value as a palimpsest is there for all to recognise and pick up knowledge and understanding from is undisputed. We can add to that library of knowledge and understanding increasing the value of that palimpsest by providing records of why we have intervened, how we have intervened and had an impact with our own period of history.

There is no past that cannot be clarified by study. The present day uses that knowledge for its own purposes in understanding the pageant of history. Future generations will also use and interpret what we have done, always provided that we establish an ethos of recording our interventions now for future reference. The need to document and record is a fundamental principle of conservation and it is incumbent on you to ensure that records are made and stored for future access and dissemination.

The process of review of what we were trying to achieve by intervention and how that purpose and intent was achieved, and what results obtained, must be part of the monitoring and review process that you should set up as part of your work as a conservation practitioner.

Such review and recording should not only address the philosophical considerations underscoring the need for intervention it should also encompass a general reassessment of the aims of intervention and how such aims performed in practical terms at the end of the project when works might be assessed against performance criteria.

Thus is the process of monitoring and review, we must analyse our motives for intervention together with a self searching understanding of why we are intervening and then look at the manner in which we propose to intervene and finally, to critically assess the results of our interventions including how they might have been done better.

Earl, J sums up the philosophical background to conservation as follows:

  • “Motive – why do we wish to conserve
  • Monument – what are we trying to conserve
  • Manner and means – how should it be done.”

    To which we might, in this context of review, add:
    Monitor – assessment of what is being achieved and, in review, what has been achieved and how it might have been done better.