Historic Built Environment

Compiled by Marion Barter


Each chapter presents a summary of the archaeological and historic environment research undertaken in North West England since 2006 for the particular period or subject. The chapters are arranged using the same structure as the original resource assessment subject chapter for the first North West Archaeology Research Framework published in 2006 (Brennand et al 2006). The update is not a replacement of that work, but rather an addition and enhancement. The 2006 resource assessment text remains a key foundation document for regional research studies in North West England. Nor are the chapters merely a list of all work undertaken since 2006. Instead, they highlight key new data, emerging subject areas, and fresh synthesis in the decade or more since the original regional Research Framework was published.

The chapters have been compiled by an author with special knowledge of the period/subject area and use material provided by a variety of researchers who are also credited. The project included consultation and workshops designed to highlight any omissions in recent significant work. The chapters provide the framework for revised questions and supporting statements/strategies. Being available on this wiki platform allows historic environment practitioners to update and refresh these chapters as new research findings come to light or gaps in data/coverage are identified. It was agreed that these chapters should be published as a point-in-time monograph in 2020 through the CBA North West to complement the original volume of 2006.


This is the first time that a resource assessment for historic buildings and designed landscapes in the North West has been summarised, so unlike the archaeology period summaries, this text covers more than the last ten years of publications. There are inevitable overlaps between buildings, designed landscapes and archaeology, particularly for the late medieval, post-medieval and industrial periods; for these periods the previous Archaeological Resource Assessment for the North West summarised some of the key characteristics of the built environment relevant to the North West, including the region’s textile mills, vernacular buildings and workers’ housing.  As industrial period buildings are a very significant strand for the North West, an overview is also provided in this summary, which will result in some repetition.  To fully understand all strands of the historic environment it is essential to take an integrated approach that encompasses all disciplines, including archaeology, architectural history, social history, topography, historical geography and documentary research. Although this summary of the historic built environment separates buildings and landscapes from archaeology, as a means of enabling a ‘catch-up’ in the resource assessment, these strands are integrated in the evolving research agenda.

As this summary covers all periods, the text is arranged chronologically with themes covered within each period where relevant.  The summary runs from the medieval period up to the late twentieth century, particularly covering historic buildings but with some reference to designed or historic landscapes.

The author is grateful for contributions from Clare Hartwell, Julian Holder, Adam Menuge and Joseph Sharples who generously shared bibliographies. Advice from Andrew Davison and Jean Fildes has contributed to the section on the industrial period. For architecture in Manchester, Terry Wyke’s published bibliography is an invaluable starting point (Wyke, 2007, 228-253). For post-war architecture and urban design, Richard Brook’s online bibliography is a good source, particularly for Manchester (http://www.mainstreammodern.co.uk/Bibliography.aspx). The bibliography of the Vernacular Architecture Group (VAG), last updated in 2016, is hosted online by the Archaeology Data Service (http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/archives/view/vagbiblio/index.cfm).

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