Research Methods

This page introduces the range of methods we use to research, investigate and analyse the historic environment. These include:

  • Landscape-scale approaches involving, for example, aerial photography and mapping, and Historic Landscape Characterisation
  • Place-based non-intrusive methods including analytical landscape survey, geophysical survey, and historic area assessment
  • Site-based methods including building investigation, earthwork survey, geospatial survey, imaging and visualisation, scientific dating, and targeted archaeological excavation
  • Post-excavation conservation and scientific analysis

We also commission research employing these and other methods, and produce technical advice notes that explain our approaches.

  • Airborne Remote Sensing

    Historic England experts use airborne remote sensing methods to identify, record and monitor the condition of heritage assets

  • Archaeology

    This section describes archaeological excavation methods and the techniques used to study artefacts and ecofacts, including scientific dating.

  • Terrestrial Remote Sensing

    Historic England experts investigate how geophysics and specialist survey methods can be used to learn about heritage assets

  • Architectural Investigation

    Investigation methods and techniques used by Historic England to assess the character and significance of England’s built environment.

  • Landscape Survey

    Landscape Survey: the recording and analytical methods we use when investigating sites and areas on the ground.

  • Historic Characterisation

    We characterise in order to attain a certain level of understanding of large parts of England’s historic environment with the aim of supporting those

  • Picturing the Past

    Techniques like reconstructions, archaeological or analytical site illustration and interactive maps help people to understand and enjoy heritage.

  • Garden History

    Find out how Historic England researches garden history