Enhancing NRHE

The Hampshire and Wight Trust for Maritime Archaeology (HWTMA) was commissioned in 2009 by English Heritage to undertake a project entitled ‘Our Marine Historic Environment: Enhancing the National Monuments Record’.

The overall aim of this project was to compare the wreck data maintained by the National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) (the former National Monuments Record (NMR) and United Kingdom Hydrographic Office (UKHO) datasets and, where applicable, suggest solutions as to how any discrepancies could be overcome.

This project supports the work undertaken by the NRHE in relation to finds reported through the EH-British Marine Aggregate Producers Association (BMAPA) Protocol for Reporting Finds of Archaeological Interest. Importantly, it will enable better informed licensing processes and facilitate a greater understanding of the data required to support UK Government priorities such as marine spatial planning.

Phase One

Phase One was funded through the Aggregates Levy Sustainability Fund (ALSF) distributed by English Heritage. This phase focused on identifying the scale of discrepancies between the NRHE and UKHO wreck datasets and make recommendations. This work was completed in September 2010.

The usability within a spatial context, the format and the method of bringing both datasets together has been assessed and challenges identified. Phase One results have shown that:

  1. The assessment of data format demonstrated the challenges of converting large scale databases from paper format to a digital and spatial output.
  2. Attribute data fields and their content need some basic common standardisation to allow matching further records in the future.
  3. There is considerable scope for matching further records by addressing some of the contradictions identified. However, further index fields would be needed from both databases if records were to be matched beyond the use of known matching identifiers.
  4. Spatial discrepancies were identified in all pilot areas undertaken as part of this Phase One work. Spatial discrepancies were both in distance and direction.
  5. The data attribute assessment illustrated that there are several fields in both datasets with equivalent data but presentation and use of this data is not always consistent.

Phase Two

As part of Phase Two, the HWTMA in partnership with SeaZone Solutions Ltd, tested and implemented the Phase One recommendations. Phase Two addressed and resolved, where possible, data issues identified at a national scale following the methodology used as part of Phase One.

Spatial and attribute analysis was undertaken where data was processed and a total of approximately 1200 records with discrepancies were identified, analysed, and resolved on a case by case basis.

Data format comprised the assessment of end user requirements for data delivery and the review of requirements from an Oracle management perspective. The former was undertaken through questionnaires that were sent to relevant organisations agreed by NRHE staff. The responses received showed that the requirements of the individual organisations are diverse. Therefore, a flexible approach has been recommended to data delivery through FME (Feature Manipulate Engine). The managers of the NRHE could use FME Workbench software to extract data to a range of different formats and with appropriate content, based on specific user needs.

This work has taken place at a time when there is a significant focus on data from the marine environment, both within the UK and more widely across Europe. By enhancing marine historic environment baseline data within the English national dataset, this project has made a major contribution towards UK and European priorities which acknowledge the need for comprehensive, reliable and accessible data on which to base long term planning, decision making and resource management.

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