Research Agenda preamble

Norman Redhead

The Research Agenda section identifies gaps in knowledge and defining research initiatives for the historic environment in the form of research questions for each period supported by further information which includes statements on relevant strategies. 

The previous research agenda (published in 2007) set out a list of initiatives, some of which were questions whilst others were statements. Updating the NW Regional Research Framework has provided the opportunity to transform these initiatives to open questions, with supporting strategy statements. These were presented at a series of regional workshops which reviewed previous initiatives to see if they were still fit for purpose and to submit new research questions. Consensus was sought from participants, and subsequently through online consultation, on which questions should be deleted, which retained as they are, and which should be amended to make them more relevant. Previous inconsistencies and repetitions were resolved and new questions added to reflect research investigations undertaken over the last 12 years. In a similar vein, relevant research strategy statements were kept or amended, and new ones added. Research strategies identified in the 2006-7 publication are linked to the updated research framework. For instance, Roman period research agenda question R05 ‘How can we ascertain if Romans established military sites on native power bases/centres of population?’ is linked to RS3.12 from the original research agenda publication. An additional comment, made at the Roman period workshop, is noted under ‘More information’.

The ‘Built Heritage’ research question workshop generated a large volume of new questions, which have been incorporated into the relevant periods, so that the research framework better reflects the historic environment of the North West. As might be expected, many of these questions concern the industrial and modern eras so that there are significantly more for this section. However, this can be seen to better reflect the character and survival of the North West’s historic environment. The workshop on ‘Strategy’ established that there were a range of over-arching questions and strategies that were repeated across period workshops that should be put into a new research agenda theme: ‘Overarching questions’. To make interrogation easier, there are cross-references between questions/statements in the original 2006-7 research agenda, the updated period research agendas and the overarching questions. Furthermore, each question has a searchable list of key words.

At the start of each research agenda section are a list of key points that came out of the respective workshop. These reflect the view of experienced practitioners in researching the North West’s historic environment and are considered to provide a useful steer for future projects. They are listed in the ‘Overview’ chapter and provide some key themes for this section.