Durham SMR

Durham County Council (Archaeology Section), 2003

Data copyright © Durham County Council (Archaeology Section) unless otherwise stated

Durham County Council (Archaeology Section) logo

Primary contact

Durham County Council (Archaeology Section)
Archaeology Section
Rivergreen Centre
Aykley Heads
Tel: 0191 3708712

Send e-mail enquiry

Resource identifiers

  • ADS Collection: 356

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The County Durham Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) is the main archive for archaeological information for County Durham and Darlington. The current computerised version was first developed in 1995, replacing decades of card indexing and paper records. Over 6,500 database entries act as the gateway to a variety of original archive sources, including published and unpublished reports, journals, site archives, illustrations, aerial photographs, maps and correspondence. A wide variety of site types and periods, from prehistoric landscapes and settlements, through to industrial sites and even cold-war defences are represented, reflecting the diverse history and archaeology of this fascinating area.

The County Durham SMR is used by a variety of user-groups in many different ways. Archaeologists from Durham County Council's Archaeology section use the records to assist their work in conservation, development control, and sustainable land management. Other land managers and owners can request information and advice on how to preserve archaeological or historic sites, as well as developers, planners and the public utilities, who use the information on the SMR to help plan their work. In addition the database and its associated archive provide a huge resource to aid all kinds of research into archaeology and local history - academics, university students, local history societies, school teachers and people of all ages carrying out personal research can use the SMR as a first stop in their work.

As well as the SMR, Durham County Council's Archaeology Section offers many other services. We routinely analyse planning applications for potential impacts on archaeology and built heritage, and advise County and District planners on policies to protect the historic environment. We work with developers to ensure that unnecessary damage is not caused to archaeological remains during development works, and with land managers to help bring about conservation works to archaeological sites.

We also provide a range of opportunities for people to get involved in archaeology - we provide talks, lectures and workshops to local groups, schools and other venues, we carry out volunteer and community excavations to give people the chance to learn new skills, and work with many partners to provide archaeological activities for all ages. In addition we run Binchester Roman Fort near Bishop Auckland as a heritage attraction and resource for lifelong learning.

If you would like to find out more about any aspect of archaeology in County Durham, please don't hesitate to contact us using the address in the sidebar.

Information available through the ADS

The information fields supplied to the ADS were as follows:

  • Title - the name of the record in the County Durham SMR
  • Description - A short textual description based on a variety of sources and updated regularly when new or additional information becomes available
  • Location - town/village, county, grid reference
  • Subject type - site type from a pick list developed by Durham County Council
  • Period - general period, chosen from a pick list
  • Bibliographic references - further reading and source references
  • Depositor's ID number - unique identifier ascribed via the Keys to the Past project

New developments in County Durham

Along with our partners at Northumberland County Council, we have recently launched our newly updated website, Keys to the Past, which provides an easy to use, exciting new version of the SMRs for the two counties. Funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, Keys to the Past offers a reworked and illustrated dataset of all known archaeological and historical sites, along with a map interface that allows you to compare modern historical maps, and plenty of information on Durham and Northumberland's heritage. You can link to Keys to the Past from each record of the Durham SMR on the ADS site, or log onto www.keystothepast.info to see what the website has to offer.

Another joint project between Durham and Northumberland County Councils is a New Opportunities Fund grant-aided project designed to bring alive the archaeology of the area. Past Perfect - The Virtual Archaeology of Durham and Northumberland presents virtual reality reconstructions of seven archaeological sites, including a prehistoric coastal landscape, a Romano-British settlement and a medieval village, and you can browse around these sites experiencing what life was really like for the people who lived there. A huge archive of digitised material is made available online for the first time, including historical documents, archaeologists' notebooks, real artefacts, excavation photographs and film footage. You can find Past Perfect at www.pastperfect.org.uk