Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Sites and Monuments Record
Each County or Unitary Authority in the United Kingdom maintains a 'Sites and Monuments Record' or SMR, consisting of a list of known archaeological sites. Each record list the location, type and period of site along with a brief description and information on the location of more detailed sources of information such as site reports. This information is most commonly used to help inform decisions on the likelihood of new development affecting archaeological deposits. Government guidance (PPG 16) requires local authorities to consider archaeology a material consideration in determining planning applications and the SMR aids this consideration.
Up until 2004 there was no statutory requirement for local authorities to fund an SMR and there is great variety in its implementation across the country. Some SMRs are simple card indexes, others are command line Unix databases and others are more modern and GIS-based. They provide an enormously useful resource but are not always fully exploited or appreciated by the public. Efforts to place SMRs online have met with success in certain regions although some archaeologists have voiced concern that making vulnerable sites better known to the public endangers them further, especially through illicit metal detecting. The contrary argument is that informing the public of historic sites near them will in fact increase protection as local people will take pride in their heritage and seek to protect it.
Members of the public may usually consult their local SMR or request a search be undertaken on their behalf and they are commonly used by local historians, archaeological organisations and academics.
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