The online resource for the historic environment

Glossary of Terms

Concerned with beauty or the appreciation of beauty… Oxford Dictionary Thesaurus 2001. May be both subjective and objective, see unit 2 page 8.

The process by which an asset might be changed to a new use to ensure its survival. Such uses should be sympathetic to original use and pose no, or only minimum, threat to longevity by intensification of use.

“The re-assembling of existing but dismembered part.” Bell, D. Tan 8 Historic Scotland.
An example of dismembered parts might be the Elgin Marbles removed by Lord Elgin from the Parthenon and exhibited for over 150 years in The British Museum.

Ancient Monument
Building place or structure designated as of national importance and protected in the UK under Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. See Historic Scotland Memorandum of Guidance 1998. Currently there are some 19,500 entries in the lists covering Schedule Monuments with approximately 35,000 sites ranging from standing stones to telephone kiosks. Scheduled Monument Consent is required before undertaking any work to a scheduled monument.

Anti-scrape movement
See also SPAB. A mid 19th century reaction/development against the excessively conjectural intervention of early Victorian restorationists such as James Wyatt and in France Eugene-Emanuel Viollet-le-Duc

Art Deco
That period of art/architecture between the 1914 - 18 war and the beginning of the Second World War 1939: typified by such buildings as the Hoover factory, the Firestone factory et al. The term Art Deco takes its name from the Exposition des Arts-Decoatifs et Industriels Moderne held in Paris in 1924 “…disseminated the elements of a style derived from the more severe geometrical patterns evolved as a reaction to Art Nouveau. Oxford Dictionary of Architecture. Owed some of its influences to the styles and forms found in ancient Egyptian architecture.

Art Nouveau
That period in art and architecture between circa 1888 and 1914 and had its roots in organic natural forms and plant shapes. Also subsumed the Arts & Crafts style of Morris, Voysey et al, which style attempted to revert to hand crafts and skills threatened by industrialisation: very much part of the Victorian romantic movement.

Building, structure, landscape, object or artefact that helps a society to recall its history by reference as a primary source: Contributing by its presence, in authentic form through conservation and preservation and allowing society to form an opinion about that society’s historic development and influences.

Asset management
A process, by which an asset is to be looked after, maintained, changed or developed.

Athens Charter 1931
League of Nations Athens Conference.
First truly International response to setting down a consensus on conservation principles and practice.

Is a difficult concept to grasp: It is that material or fabric which contributes to the historic development of an asset but might not be original to its initial development. It may be authentic to the period during which it was introduced to original fabric but may not be part of original development. All original fabric is authentic but not all authentic fabric is original. Material introduced today will not be authentic but may achieve authenticity through time: Authentic in origin but not original to primary development. An asset will be subject to many periods of intervention and any material introduced during an asset’s history will be authentic of the period during which it was introduced: it will not be authentic of original development however.
Authentic may be true of its time but not original to primary development. (see also original below).

Existing from the beginning, being first or earliest: The earliest form of something (Oxford Dictionary Thesaurus 2001)

Building archaeology
Somewhat different to archaeology per se: it is the process of investigation of an asset without the stripping down required by pure archaeology. It will use methods and principles that will allow recording and investigation/analysis without loss of fabric or damage to structure. It will involve non-invasive, none destructive methods of investigation/understanding that may include:

  • Analysis of the asset itself as a primary source
  • Analysis of documentation providing record of the asset and its development/history
  • May involve other methods of investigation such as: dendrochronology, ultra sound, photogrammetry, rectified photography, infra-red scanning, etc

Building recording
A system of recording a building which may involve similar methods to those defined in building archaeology above: the aim being to provide a set of data from which judgements may be made to assist understanding of an asset. Data thus provide should be stored in easily accessible archives for future reference. Data may involve historical analysis of an asset as well as information relating to contemporary methods of intervention and reasons for such intervention in order to inform future generations.

Burra Charter
Australian ICOMOS charter originating in 1981, revised to 2004. First to establish definition of cultural significance: “…means aesthetic, historical, scientific or social values for past, present and future generations.” It also defined the fact that conservation should be tailored to suit “local need”. It set down a total of 29 Articles including: Definitions, Conservation Principles, Conservation Processes and Conservation Practice.

The Welsh historic monuments agency

“Action to secure the survival or preservation of buildings, cultural artefacts, natural resources, energy or any other thing of acknowledged value to society.” B.S. 7913: 1998. (see also preservation below)
The objectives of conservation, delineated by B.S. 7913 2013: ”The decision to conserve buildings can be justified on social, cultural, economic and/or environmental grounds and usually a combination of these. Conflicting pressures often need to be balanced to assist good decision making. Good conservation depends on a sound research evidence base..."
The reasons for conserving may be: cultural, historical, humanistic, aesthetic, educational, economic; be based on sustainability, affect employment; be based on travel and tourism; be environmental, global, local; be based on a balance of objectives: From which analysis it might be observed that conservation is not a definitive science backed by reason and resolution but is more determined by humanistic values and perceptions, underpinned by clarity of understanding of why an asset is valued by its society, both local and global
“…largely the art of controlling change.” Sir B, Fielden, cited by Earl, J. Building Conservation Philosophy. Donhead 2004

“State of survival of a historic building". B.S 7913:2013.
The need to preserve will be based on the values and reasons to conserve defined for conservation above. Action taken to maintain an asset in a stable existing form or state and to stop or slow the process of deterioration and maintain integrity.

Conservation Area
Area defined as having importance to a local community and usually involves the built environment. Such areas are designated under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 and in Scotland under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997. Such areas may have both listed and non-listed buildings but which offer, as an ensemble, a record of development that is worthy of protection/control. A Conservation Area Order requires that any demolition must obtain prior permission before implementation. The Order will also impose constraint/control over trees within the defined area. Article 4 Directions may attach to a Conservation Area Order and will limit what might otherwise be permitted development under the Town and Country Planning Act (General Permitted Development) Order 1995. In Scotland the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Scotland) Order 1992.

Conservation Management Strategy
A plan that identifies how an asset or site might respond to future development or need: probably a dynamic process that identifies significance, vulnerabilities and how these are to be addressed in any future plan to develop, adapt or change a site without loss of significance, authenticity or originality.

Conservation Plan
“Document which sets out the significance of a site and how that significance will be retained in any future use, alteration, repair, management or development.” Informed Conservation. Clark, K. English Heritage 2001.

Conservation Statement
A simplification, or précis, of the conservation plan: it might also identify knowledge gaps or lacuna and how that lack of knowledge might be addressed and resolved.

Conservation Strategy
A plan to determine how intervention work[s] associated with the historic environment shall be implemented without loss or damage to the cultural significance of an asset. Such strategy will be influenced by a clear understanding of what, why and how an asset is significant. Such understanding will be informed by an investigation of the asset as primary source and documentary evidence as secondary source; this information will be used to gain clarity of understanding of the asset’s significance to society and as an historic narrative of it an its societal development.

Conservation Principles or Criteria
Defined by Bell in Tan 8 The Historic Scotland Guide to International Charters as:

  • Minimal intervention
  • Minimal loss of fabric
  • Reversibility
  • Legibility (of new work or absence of deception)
  • Sustainability (ability to hand on the asset to future generations without loss of authenticity)

The act(s) of strengthening against further deterioration; without conjectural intervention. The term stabilisation might also be used.

Cultural Heritage
Defined in 1972 by the World Heritage Convention as including monuments, groups of buildings (“ensembles”) and sites. It included historic buildings, historic areas and towns, archaeological sites and the contents therein, as well as historic and cultural landscapes. It will also encompass historic artefacts, art and culture.

Cultural significance
“…means the aesthetic, historic, scientific or spiritual value for the past, present and future generations.” Burra Charter.
It can also attach to emotional value: why and how society uses an asset to reinforce its understanding of history, development and influence. In simple terms it is the perceived value of an asset, established as a result of its continuity of presence and worth to society.

“The science of establishing the age of timber.” Measured Survey and Building Recording, Historic Scotland 2003. The method makes use of comparative analysis of core samples of timber matched against known, verified and dated data for same species of timber and based on growth ring comparison. Analysis provides accurate assessment within a bracketed period of the felling date of the analysed timber sample taken.

Digital photography
“…with a camera utilising direct capture of the image through a digital device, normally a CCD array.” Measured Survey and Building Recording, Historic Scotland 2003

Primary (usually frontage) elevation of a building

Defined by the Deschambault Declaration 1982 as: “…the combined creation and products of nature and of man, in their entirety, that make up the environment in which we live in time and space. Heritage is a reality, a possession of the community and a rich inheritance that may be passed on, which invites our recognition and our participation.” : to which might be added and protection.

Acronym for Historical Environment Records.”…provide[s] access to systematically organised information in a given area about all aspects of our surroundings, that have been built, formed or influenced by human activities from earliest to most recent times. It is maintained and updated for public benefit in accordance with national and international standards and guidance.” Review of Heritage Protection: The way forward LINK NEEDED Department of Culture Media and Sport 2004.

Historic Environment
Any asset that has importance in contributing to society’s understanding/comprehension of the influences that have shaped their society. Such assets may be physical in the form of the built environment, structures, landscapes, vehicles, artefacts, etc as well as spiritual/emotional in the form of knowledge, beliefs and understanding about the factors that have shaped and influenced history and may influence the present and the future.

Acronym for International Convention on Monuments and Sites formed in 1965 following the Venice Charter of the previous year, which charter was adopted by ICOMOS as its own formative response to conservation ethics and principles.
ICOMOS Guidelines for Conservation Training and Education1993 are now adopted internationally as the foundation for most conservation training courses. LinkS NEEDED

Infra-red scanning
A non-destructive, non-invasive methodology for analysing a building or structure and based on heat emission variations. Provide a chromatic analysis of a structure from which judgements may be made about underlying fabric or structure.

International Conservation Charters
International response and consensus in structuring appropriate principles and ethics associated with conservation of the historic environment and offered as a published document by its issuing body. See also Historic Scotland Guide to International Conservation Charters.

Any work[s] to change, modify, repair or maintain the historic environment.

Modern movement
Buildings that exhibited a style that shunned links with the past - non-stylistic eclectic in style from which a new style might emerge. Possibly futuristic with a machine aesthetic: radical with the suppression of ornament. Use of modern materials; mass-produced. The Modern Movement was also a pure aesthetic ideal unsullied by construction and use – a pure design concept without physical presence – Archigram might be a late example, Bauhaus in Germany became the model for education. (Oxford Dictionary of architecture).

Classic architectural style based on the works of Andrea Palladio 1508 – 80 and particularly his book The Four Books of Architecture which contains illustrations of his design. Promoted in England by architects such as Inigo Jones (1573 – 1652), Lord Burlington (1694 – 1753), et al. For the most part limited to grand buildings and country houses.
Examples: Holkham Hall, Norfolk; Queen’s House, Greenwich; Chiswick House London.

An overwritten manuscript from which former state or previous writings might be deduced: used in the context of built environment conservation to indicate that an asset may be subject to many periods of change or intervention and from which a narrative might be established, through research, to gain an understanding of its development and history.

The acquisition, through time, of a coating or, change to an original surface of a material that may add authenticity and reinforce age by its accretion.

Pattern book
Term used to defined a catalogue of architectural designs and components available to builders/craftsmen developers during the Georgian period (1760 – 1820) for use during design/construction of speculatively built houses and other buildings.
Catalogue example: Batty Langley 1745.

A method of photographically recording a building or structure based a stereo-photographic method and used to accurately record the fenestration (including fenestration depth and projection) of a building or structure. From which photographs an accurate drawing may be produced.

Action taken to maintain an asset in a stable, existing form or state and to stop or slow the process of deterioration and to maintain integrity.

Remaking a building, part of a building or artefact based on recorded drawings or known previous state of a place, building or artefact following damage or destruction. For example new roof and stairs at Uppark, new roof and covering at Hampton Court et al. New material may be required as part of this process, such new work not be easily obvious to a casual observer and it will be necessary, in order to avoid deceit, for the new work to be discretely labelled or made obvious.

“…returning a place as near as possible to a known earlier state and is distinguished by the introduction of materials (new and old) into the fabric.” Burra Charter.
“Re-establishment of what occurred or what existed in the past, on the basis of documentary or physical evidence.” B.S.7913: 1998

See building recording.

Rectified photography
A photographic method of surveying a building or structure based on images taken in a parallel plane to the face of a building or structure and associated with a form of scale control and where photographic images are taken at accurate right angles to the plane of the photographed image.

Beginning in Italy in C.14 and demonstrating a revival of arts under the influence of Classicism and the Vitruvian ideals; exemplified by the work of; Brunelleschi, Alberti and Michelangelo et al; later. The style was adopted later in other parts of Europe; not influencing British architecture to any great extent until late C.16 early C.17. Later - Mannerism based on ancient Roman influences and developed by Andrea Palladio.

The act of making an exact copy of a place, object or artefact.

Term in common use in conservation and defined by the Burra Charter as:
“…returning a place as near as possible to a known earlier state by removing accretions or by reassembling existing components without introduction of new material.” Whereas BS 7913 1998 defines it as: “Alteration of a building, part of a building or artefact which has decayed, been lost or damaged or is thought to have been inappropriately repaired or altered in the past, the objective of which is make it conform again to its design or appearance at a previous state.” A footnote emphasises that the accuracy of any restoration depends on the extent to which the original design or appearance at a particular date is known/can be verified by research. See also Stephan Tschudi-Madsen, Restoration and Anti-Restoration. 1976
Restoration; also used to define that period in history which involved the re-establishment of the Stuart Monarchy in Great Britain and Ireland in 1660.

A defining principle in conservation work; dictating that works of intervention should be capable of being removed and returned to a former state without further damage in the event of future work or research determining that an improved form of intervention becomes available.

Acronym for Site & Monument Records. Nationally available record data base offering simple information specific to a site, building or asset: normally available from local planning authorities or National Monument Records Office. See also HERs.

Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings. Formed as a reaction to the restorationist principles of subjective/conjectural intervention affecting much medieval church architecture in the mid 19th century. Also known as the anti-scrape movement: a fashionable practice of removing rendered finished on stone structure buildings to expose the texture of the underlying stone. The SPAB manifesto of 1877 set down the principles of the society and is considered the genesis of the conservation movement in the UK. Founder members of the SPAB included William Morris, John Ruskin, et al. See also John Ruskin The Seven Lamps of Architecture.

Venice Charter 1964
Prepared by a second (first in Paris in 1957) Congress of Architects and Specialists of Historic Buildings in Venice in 1964: It agreed that, “It is essential that the principles guiding the preservation of ancient buildings…be agreed and be laid down on an international basis…” It defined 16 Articles including Definitions, Aim, Conservation, Restoration, Historic Sites, Excavations and Publication.

Vernacular architecture
May be traditional in form, built with traditional materials using traditional methods, may be peculiar to an area and generally small in scale: unpretentious, simple, indigenous and generally using local materials, generally, agricultural, domestic and local industrial buildings; following a local tradition and style.