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Berkshire Family Historian
June 2002

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Berkshire Family Historian
Main Page, June 2002 Contents

The National Monuments Record

by Alyson Rogers

The National Monuments Record (NMR) is English Heritage's public archive and provides information on the architecture and archaeology of England. Anyone is welcome to consult the NMR, either by visiting one of our search rooms in Swindon or London, or by using our remote enquiry service. The main archive is in Swindon, apart from architectural records for Greater London held in our London Search Room.

We aim to encourage the understanding of the historic environment by providing access to the historic archives of England's heritage and preserving our unique archives and data for future generations. We aim to set national standards for the capture, curation and dissemination of heritage archives and information in partnership with others and to act as a gateway to archives and information held by others.

What records does the NMR hold?

The NMR is home to ten million archive items, which relate to England's buildings and archaeological sites. These include material deposited by many organisations as well as the work of English Heritage's own survey staff and photographers. Among our collections are:

Air photographs of England

The NMR houses the largest reference collection of air photographs in England, around four million in total. Our collection includes images taken by the RAF and the Ordnance Survey between the 1940s and the 19705 as well as material taken by our own survey teams. Air photographs provide a unique angle on any site, allowing it to be seen in relation to its surroundings, to identify changes through time or to reveal features not clearly visible from the ground such as archaeological sites. They are a fascinating resource that can be used for a wide range of interests ranging from those of local historians to land use planners and environmental consultants.

Historic images of the buildings of England

Our collections include photographs of many parts of England, dating from the 1890s to the present day, measured drawings, surveys and written records. A wide range of buildings are covered ranging from parish churches to cathedrals and from stately homes to coal mining settlements. Of particular value are our detailed archives covering thematic or individual building survey work carried out by the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (RCHME) and English Heritage. We also hold a national database of Listed Buildings. Architectural historians, students, picture researchers and local historians consult such collections.

Harvest time in Lower Cadsden (photo)

Harvest time in Lower Cadsden, Princes Risborough, Buckinghamshire c 1903.

Archaeologlcal records of England

The NMR offers a single point of access to information on the archaeological sites of England. A wide range of survey drawings and reports carried out by the RCHME, the Ordnance Survey and English Heritage complements the detailed information held in our database indexes. Detailed ground surveys of sites such as Avebury and Maiden Castle are held alongside air photo transcriptions of entire historic landscapes. Examples include air surveys of the extensive cropmarks of the Yorkshire Wolds and ground and air surveys of the rich prehistoric landscape of Salisbury Plain. These records provide a vital resource for students, archaeological consultants and local historians alike.

Ludgate Circus, London c1880 (photo)

Ludgate Circus, London c1880

How do we store our archives?

The NMR's collections are stored in a state of the art archive at the NMRC in Swindon, where temperature and humidity are regulated to prevent them from deteriorating. We catalogue 150,000 items each year. Our staff also work to ensure that our databases of archaeological sites and historic buildings are kept up to date and accurate. We have also begun scanning photographs and drawings in order to make them accessible electronically and are working towards making our catalogues and databases available via the Internet.

What services do we offer?

You are welcome to visit our public search rooms in Swindon and London. There is no need to make an appointment, although a telephone call in advance can save time when you visit. We also offer a range of remote enquiry services, many of which are free. You can ask our staff to search for information on your behalf by writing a letter, sending a fax or completing the enquiry form on our website. We also hold regular free exhibitions at our gallery in Swindon and run a programme of lectures, evening classes, guided tours and research days.

Who uses the NMR?

A wide range of people consult the NMR. Many are members of the public, some belonging to local or family history societies, who are interested in knowing more about their local area. Others are specialists such as archaeologists, planners and architectural historians.

How do I use the NMR?

For a free information pack on NMR services or details of our opening times, please contact:

NMR Enquiry and Research Services, English Heritage, National Monuments Record Centre, Swindon, SN2 2GZ. Tel: 01793 414600, Fax: 01793 414606, email:

Or complete a free enquiry form on our website at:

Lock-up at Wheatley, Oxon (photo)

Lock-up at Wheatley, Oxon

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Berkshire Family History Society 2002

updated 30th June 2002