Peak District National Park Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC)

Peak District National Park, 2016

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Peak District National Park (2016) Peak District National Park Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) [data-set]. York: Archaeology Data Service [distributor]

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Peak District National Park Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC)

The Historic Landscape Characterisation of the Peak District National Park was commissioned by English Heritage and carried out in the late 1990s, with mapping by Gill Stroud under the direction of John Barnatt for the Peak District National Park Authority.

The aim was to map the whole of the National Park, distinguishing different types of landscape character and their time depth, in order to facilitate the understanding and management of the cultural heritage of the Park.

The basic unit of study was the individual field parcel, and each was assessed in relation to a wide range of detailed historic maps of the Park or specific areas of it, for which the region has an unusually rich resource, including estate, enclosure award, tithe and Ordnance Survey maps. Unlike, historic landscape characterisations adopted widely after the English Heritage experimental phase looking at different characterisation methodologies, of which the Peak District characterisation was part, the one for the Peak relied heavily on historic mapping to determine the age and character of land parcels. This contrasts with later examples elsewhere in England, which emphasised direct comparisons of field size and shape, which can often be of unknown interpretation and have been the subject of debate. In many other regions a comparable method to that used in the Peak would have proved hard to implement because of a relative dearth of historic maps and the time-consuming nature of producing time-slice maps.

It was recognised that the resulting GIS mapping for the Peak presented data on ‘dominant character’ and that this was largely agricultural in nature; often there were important elements to landscape character that were masked by looking at whole land parcels. For example, hundreds of miles of important linear lead mine hillocks, which are vital to landscape character, hardly showed as they normally cross fields where more than 50% of the land is agricultural rather than industrial. Thus, in addition, the ‘dominant character’ maps needed to be set against data on settlement type, industry, archaeological vestiges and social ‘territories’. Data on these elements were compiled by John Barnatt, Heidi Taylor, Jim Rieuwerts and John Roberts.