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Council for British Archaeology, 2000 (updated 2017)

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Vernacular buildings in a changing world: understanding, recording and conservation

Edited by Sarah Pearson and Bob Meeson

CBA Research Report No 126 (2001)

ISBN 1 902771 19 2


Title page of report 126

The principal architectural component of the built landscape is comprised of vernacular buildings, whose value to everyone is increasingly recognised. At the same time there is a growing awareness that their historic integrity is being eroded. Based largely on a conference at Oxford in 1998, this Research Report is relevant to all who are concerned with the future of vernacular buildings in England and Wales. It explores many of the current issues facing those who study small historic buildings, and who are concerned with their conservation.

Firstly, the discipline is set in its historical context, exploring the many ways in which building recording has been or can be approached, whether from an academic point of view or for practical and conservation purposes. The need for betterinformed conservation and planning decisions has led to a significant increase in the amount and type of building recording undertaken. Informed conservation requires an understanding of particular buildings, their contribution to local distinctiveness, and well-researched general knowledge. Two papers by professional consultants indicate the problems encountered and the range of uses to which such work may be put.

It remains a high priority to continue to explore the wider development of historic buildings academically, and to that end new research techniques and applications, such as tree-ring dating, are developing. The role of education is explored, particularly in the light of major changes in university organisation and the introduction of information technology. The crucial part played by independent voluntary building recording is also illustrated.

Once records are made, the ways that they can be stored and accessed is a matter of considerable concern, particularly as the volume of information continues to grow while the resources of national and local repositories remain relatively static.

The papers are widely divergent in their themes and approaches, but there is considerable agreement on the issues that need to be addressed.


  • List of abbreviations(p vii)
  • List of illustrations (pp vii-viii)
  • List of tables (p viii)
  • List of contributors (p ix)
  • Acknowledgements (p x)
  • Summary (p x)
  • Preface Humphrey Welfare (p xiii)
  • Introduction (p xiv)
  • Part I: Background, objectives and methods (pp 27-37)
    • 1 Exploring the issues: changing attitudes to understanding and recording Sarah Pearson (pp 3-10)
    • 2 Out of the shunting yards – one academic’s approach to recording small buildings Jane Grenville (pp 11-26)
    • 3 Recording for research and conservation Bob Meeson (pp 27-37)
  • Part II: Recording buildings: conservation (pp 41-86)
    • 4 The role of understanding in building conservation Kate Clark (pp 41-52)
    • 5 Information requirements for planning decisions David Baker (pp 53-63)
    • 6 The potential and limitations of the work of a professional consultant Richard Morriss (pp 64-73)
    • 7 Old buildings for the future: the work of an archaeological unit Robina McNeil and Mike Nevell (pp 74-86)
  • Part III: Recording buildings: research and education (pp 89-121)
    • 8 The traditional role of continuing education in the recording of buildings Barry Harrison (pp 89-94)
    • 9 New directions in continuing education David Clark (pp 95-97)
    • 10 The independent recording of traditional buildings Nat Alcock (pp 98-110)
    • 11 The potential of tree-ring dating Edward Roberts (pp 111-121)
  • Part IV: The records (pp 125-132)
    • 12 Managing the information Anna Eavis (pp 125-132)
  • Part V: Conclusions (pp 135-140)
    • 13 Recording small buildings in a changing world Nicholas Cooper (pp 135-137)
    • 14 Some general conclusions Malcolm Airs (pp 138-140)
  • Bibliography (pp 141-146)
  • Index by Susan Vaughan (pp 147-151)

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