Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator website
Planning and building

Using York's Historic Environment Record

Our Historic Environment Record Information Services, Recording and Access Policy

The aim of York's Historic Environment Record (HER) is to bring together information about the archaeology, historic buildings and historic landscapes of the City of York for everyone’s benefit.

Purpose of the HER/Mission Statement

The HER is an important starting point for conservation, fieldwork and research into the historic environment and also informs local communities about their area. Using the information contained in the HER can help public understanding and enjoyment of the local historic environment.

The HER was originally developed as a planning control tool, to identify where historic remains are likely to be affected by development. Although this is still probably the most frequent use of the HER, its remit has expanded to include land-use planning and conservation initiatives, as well as research, tourism, education and local history projects. It's managed in accordance with national standards of good practice.

Back to policy contents

Users of the HER

The professional and public user groups that the HER aims to serve include:

  • City of York Council staff
  • Planners and Conservation Officers
  • Local List Selection Panels and consultation groups
  • commercial archaeologists and heritage professionals
  • countryside managers and their agents
  • developers and their agents
  • academics
  • students
  • teachers and trainers
  • local societies and groups
  • museums
  • Portable Antiquities Scheme and Finds Liaison Officer
  • members of the public

Back to policy contents

City of York HER

The HER covers the same geographical boundary as covered by City of York Council. The HER includes a database (HBSMR by Idox/ExegesisSDM) that holds information about remains from the prehistoric period to the present day, archaeological events (for example, watching briefs, excavations, aerial photographs), and a collection of digital reports on these events. These provide information on nationally designated (conservation areas, listed buildings, registered parks and gardens and scheduled monuments), locally designated and undesignated heritage assets.

The database is linked to a series of digital maps held as Geographic Information System (ArcGIS) files. The maps contain geographical depictions of all sites on the database, ranging from simple point locations to complex plots of extensive sites such as ancient field systems. Maps provided from the HER GIS are for information purposes only. Due to Ordnance Survey copyright restrictions this mapping must not be reproduced in researcher’s own reports.

Searches of the HER provide information selected from the record, normally for a defined area, although bespoke searches can also be done for particular periods or types of records. The data includes references to other sources held outside the HER. It's constantly being enhanced and the absence of a record should not be relied upon as indicating a lack of heritage interest, other national or specialist sources may contain information not held or indexed.

Back to policy contents

Disposals policy

The HER maintains a selection of reference material consisting of books and aerial photographs used by the City Archaeologist on an ad-hoc basis. Aerial photographs are regularly reproduced for commercial HER searches. These are currently stored at West Offices. Eventually, it's envisaged that the aerial images will be digitised, and the originals sent to an appropriate archive.

The City of York HER is not an archive and cannot receive material or artefacts relating to fieldwork (physical or digital). Physical archives should be directed to Yorkshire Museum and Digital Fieldwork Archives to Archaeology Data Service (ADS) by email:

The HER will only collect a PDF copy of the final fieldwork report.

Back to policy contents

Recording policy

Decisions regarding the suitability of a potential monument or event record within the HER record are based on Historic England and CiFA guidance and the knowledge and experience of HER staff. The asset must be able to meet recording standards set out by UK Historic Environment Data Standards (formerly MIDAS now Historic England).

The process of updating and enhancing all elements of the HER is a continuous one but is dependent on limited resources within City of York Council.

Monument records (Heritage Assets)

Monument records are classified in the City of York HER as 1 of 9 types:

  1. building
  2. character area
  3. findspot
  4. hedgerow
  5. landscape
  6. maritime
  7. monument
  8. natural feature
  9. route

Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) data is periodically downloaded by the HER but is not integrated into the database. Therefore, it's not re-produced as part of a HER search.

Monument data is provided in text form in PDF format. Spatial data is provided as GIS shapefiles or in certain circumstances as labelled PDF maps (read more about outputs).

Event records (archaeological interventions or heritage projects)

Event records are largely created when records of archaeological investigations by commercial units generated through the planning system, academics or members of the public are entered into the HER.

Event records are classified in the City of York HER as 1 of 16 types:

  1. aerial photograph
  2. appraisal/management plan
  3. building recording
  4. desk based assessment
  5. deposit model
  6. earthwork survey
  7. environmental assessment
  8. evaluation
  9. excavation
  10. fieldwalking
  11. geophysical survey
  12. metal Detecting
  13. observation
  14. other
  15. watching brief
  16. water level monitoring

Event data is provided in text form in PDF format. Spatial data is provided as GIS shapefiles or in certain circumstances as labelled PDF maps (read more about outputs).

Source records

All monument and event records should be evidenced by at least one source record. Unfortunately, some older entries are not.

Source records include fieldwork reports, research texts, documentary sources, bibliographic (published) sources and aerial photographs. The HER does not, in the case of published texts, hold a copy of the primary source.

Fieldwork reports are held digitally in the City of York HER while aerial photographs are held physically within West Offices, York.

Other types of records the HER hold include:

  • finds records
  • designation records (listed buildings, scheduled monuments, conservation areas, registered parks and gardens). These records all have a corresponding monument record entry which is produced during HER searches
  • historic landscape characterisation (data collected as two separate projects North Yorkshire HLC and City of York Urban Characterisation Project)

The process of updating and enhancing all elements of these records is a continuous one but is dependent on limited resources within City of York Council.

Back to policy contents

Consultation policy

The HER tries to be responsive to the needs of existing users, to be proactive in identifying potential new users and to seek out and overcome any barriers that may exist to using the record.

A log is maintained of all enquiries (following GDPR compliance). The resulting data is regularly reviewed to inform the development of the service.

Back to policy contents

Access Statement

The HER makes every effort to ensure that all users are able to use the publicly available services. All users must be treated fairly, with respect, dignity, and understanding by anyone working for, or on behalf of the HER, without prejudice and discrimination.

Access to information held at York HER is regulated by the Freedom of Information (The Stationery Office 2000), the Data Protection Act (HMSO 1998) and The Environmental Information Regulation 2004 (The Stationery Office 2004).

The HER is the copyright of City of York Council. Some information held in the HER may also be the copyright of others. It is the user’s responsibility to ensure that copyright law is not breached.

Getting information from the HER

You can access and preform basic searches of the HER online.

Full searches need to be requested through the online request form. Information will be sent digitally unless requested otherwise.

For commercial searches the full version of City of York HER must be consulted via an enquiry to ensure the latest available information is accessed.

If you have any further questions, contact the City Archaeologist.


The charges for using the HER are:

  • HER Commercial Basic Search, £105 per hour
  • HER Commercial Enhanced Search, £210 per hour
  • HER Commercial Rapid Response, additional £40 per hour to above prices (availability dependent on staff resources)

Students, individuals wishing to carry out private research and community groups can request information for free.

Additional fees may be incurred if hard copies are requested or for information provided on disk.


The standard HER search output is provided as a PDF and GIS shapefiles. XML data can be provided on request.

PDF maps can only be produced by special request and may incur a further charge given the amount of additional time they take to produce.

Large data requests (for example, those where it is not feasible to create a PDF document) will always be supplied as GIS data output with database information as XML (this latter is accompanied by a schema that allows XML to be viewed in a web browser).

Conditions of use

City of York Council is committed to the protection, conservation and enhancement of the historic environment. In order to ensure that information from the HER is used responsibly, those applying to consult it are requested to provide details about the nature of their enquiry and to follow the guidance for users. Please note: permission to use the HER may be refused or limited in certain circumstances.

Guidance for users

  1. City of York HER users are requested to inform City of York Council of the following, in writing or by submitting the search form:
    • the subject and purpose of their enquiry;
    • the use to which the information will be put; and
    • the names of any other bodies or individuals outside their organisation to whom it is intended to pass HER information.
  2. Users are requested to inform, and to make their research available to the HER where new archaeological sites or data are discovered as a result of their work.
  3. Users are requested to make appropriate acknowledgement of the City of York HER in any publication or report which has made use of its data. 
  4. While efforts have been made to verify the data held in the HER, City of York Council cannot accept responsibility for the accuracy of any particular data and its source.
  5. City of York Council accepts that there may be a requirement to treat certain enquiries in confidence. Equally, the HER expects that users will not pass on information in an irresponsible or unethical manner.
  6. City of York Council reserves all rights of Copyright which are owned in the material provided. Dissemination to a third party without the written consent of the Historic Environment Record Officer is a breach of copyright. Information supplied shall be used for the specified purposes only.
  7. Access to all or part of the information requested may be refused in certain circumstances.
  8. Information may not be disclosed if:
    • it relates to the subject matter of any legal or other proceedings, actual or prospective (including Local Planning Inquiries);
    • it relates to confidential, internal communications of City of York Council;
    • it is contained in a document or other record which is still in the course of completion
  9. Information will not be disclosed if:
    • it was supplied to the Council by another party who was under no legal obligation to do so and could not have been put under any legal obligation to supply it and has not consented to its disclosure;
    • its disclosure would increase the likelihood of damage to the environment affecting anything to which the information relates
  10. A request for information may be refused if it is manifestly unreasonable or is formulated in too general a manner.

Back to policy contents

Also see


City of York Council, West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA