About feature testing and the new website design

  • We regularly test new features on our new site, as a result a number of functions and features may not perform exactly as expected for a short while.
  • Registration for this site is entirely optional and all resources are freely available as normal.

The New Look ArchSearch

ADS holdings are split between ‘monument inventories’ and ‘archives’ and this division is now more explicit on the ADS website with separate search mechanisms for each, which should make finding a particular archive collection, on say Stonehenge, easier to find without having to wade through numerous monument inventory entries on Stonehenge if they are not what you are after. The archives themselves have been classified into a number of categories such as subject, programme and region. This is where the faceted classification system comes into it’s own. When looking for a particular region, for example South East England, a couple of mouse clicks will constrain the archive search to that area, additionally clicking on a subject area, for example Environmental, and the search is further constrained, in this case to the 14 archives we hold on environmental topics in the South East of England. The results themselves can then be ordered alphabetically by title or chronologically on the year of their release.

For the ArchSearch faceted classification system's first iteration we have decided to stick with our old friends, where, what and when. In this new interface users can click onto facets relating to what a monument is (based on the Thesaurus of Monument types), where it is (based on the current County District Parish list) and when it relates to (based on the MIDAS period types). What this means is that with a small number of clicks the 1,000,000 or so available records can be narrowed down very quickly to quite specific searches with manageable results sets. In one example, with only three selections: Castle; Conwy; Medieval the results set goes from 1,000,000 to seven records from two different data sources. If you know exactly what part of the country you are interested in the new ArchSearch also features an interactive mapping pane that both allows the selection of a particular area of interest and displays results.

It should be noted that not all the original records have such specific data attached to them on every facet and it goes without saying that if you prefer the straightforward search box approach this will still work and will still return the results you are looking for. In fact the first page of ArchSearch is the traditional search box, additional features such as browsing and mapping can be accessed via the tall vertical buttons, or blades.

The new ArchSearch interface also features an advanced search and an experimental ‘External’ search. The external search takes the query constructed in the browser and map and sends it off to externally hosted resources i.e. online monument inventories that are searchable via a web service. This section also includes links to two other search interfaces intended to extend your search across national boundaries, across European partners in the case of ARENA II and across the Atlantic Ocean in the case of TAG.

The procedures developed at the ADS for assigning facets, including relating coordinate positions for monuments to counties, districts and parishes have been quite complex. They have involved, amongst other things, the use of Natural Language Processing and queries using Oracle Spatial. As a result we believe we have created a very powerful search tool, however it is one that may require a little experimentation to become familiar with.

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