National Heritage Science Strategy

In 2010 the National Heritage Science Strategy (NHSS) was produced to address the report of the 2006 House of Lords Science and Technology inquiry into Science and Heritage. The inquiry found that the sector was fragmented and under-valued and recommended that the “heritage sector should come together in developing a broad-based national strategy for heritage science”.

The 2010 National Heritage Science Strategy

The 2010 strategy identified eight themes for action under two main objectives:

  • Demonstrating the public benefit of heritage science; increasing public engagement and support for it:

1. Increasing public benefit, by developing better ways to understand, demonstrate and measure the economic and social benefit of heritage and heritage science.
2. Developing policy - aligning heritage science work with wider national priorties, and addressing the internal gaps in knowledge and practice identified in the three NHSS reports (see below)
3. Public engagement and support, through the development of public activities and a renewed focus on championing public access, enjoyment, understanding and support for heritage science.

  • Improving partnership within the sector and with others by increasing collaboration to help practice make better use of research, knowledge and innovation, and to enhance resources, funding and skills:

4. Improving understanding of cultural heritage through collaborations and the development of new and better investigative methods
5. Improving preservation of the historic environment and conservation practice, identifying sustainable measures such as low energy methods of environmental control
6. Using resources better, through partnerships, collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and skills
7. Building future capacity, by encouraging the use of heritage science in schools and promoting opportunities for study.
8. Strengthening links with other sectors such as universities and industry

Read the 2010 National Heritage Science Strategy

Report 1: The role of science in the management of the UK's heritage
The document defines heritage sub-sectors used in the report series. It identifies typical materials and contexts within which they are found, summarises principal decay mechanisms, their monitoring and management. It addresses gaps in knowledge and practice, highlighting a lack of detailed information on rates of deterioration and thresholds at which damage occurs.

Report 2: The use of science to enhance our understanding of the past
Reviews the main drivers for, and types of, scientific investigation of cultural heritage. The report considers the frequency of use of techniques and areas for improvement for each sub-sector. It concludes that investigation should be driven by focused research questions (rather than by available equipment), that results should further public understanding and engagement with cultural heritage, and that there is a disparity in the quantity of output between and within the heritage sub-sectors.

Report 3: Understanding capacity in the heritage sector
Provides an overview of who heritage scientists are, how many they are, where they work across field sub-sectors. It investigates areas lacking people to provide for current needs, and considers training routes into heritage science and current funding. The report recommends finding better ways of measuring and demonstrating benefits from budget allocations.

The Forum is worked to deliver the National Heritage Science Strategy by:

Sharing information and resources

  • Sharing research priorities to improve collaboration, build research partnerships and stimulate new and better approaches to understanding cultural heritage
  • Publishing information on funding for heritage science
  • Sharing information on, and access to, technical equipment
  • Sharing information on jobs, research opportunities and internships

Raising the profile of heritage science

  • Coordinating policy responses on behalf of the heritage science domain
  • Building public engagement and support by creating opportunities to engage with heritage science research and heritage scientists
  • Developing ways to understand, demonstrate and measure the economic and social benefit of our heritage and of heritage science

Building capacity for heritage science

  • Promoting training, skills development and research opportunities
  • Mapping demographic trends in heritage science employment to ease the transition from training to career
  • Creating opportunities to work with schools to spark the interest of the researchers of the future
  • Strengthening links with other sectors to enhance resources and skills for heritage science
  • Reviewing the funding of heritage science research to identify gaps in knowledge and skills