Historic Environment Records

Gwern Einion Burial Chamber, Gwynedd

Gwern Einion Burial Chamber, Gwynedd

Historic environment records provide detailed information about the historic environment of a given area. The historic environment records in Wales have been created as a result of decades of research and investigation.

Sections 35 and 36 of the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016 require the Welsh Ministers to compile and keep up to date a publicly accessible historic environment record for each local authority area in Wales. The four regional Welsh archaeological trusts maintain the historic environment records on behalf of the Welsh Ministers.

Archwilio provides free, online access to the historic environment records for each local authority area in Wales. It includes (or provides access to): 

information on tens of thousands of historic sites; 

thousands of records relating to investigative work across Wales; and

records of hundreds of thousands of historic place names.

The core records on Archwilio are supported by additional information held by the regional archaeological trusts. As well as being useful to private and academic researchers, this information is critically important for local authorities and other organizations. It provides the basis for strategic advice and case management support where development proposals or agri-environmental, forestry and woodland schemes impact on the historic environment.

Statutory guidance

The Welsh Ministers have issued Historic Environment Records in Wales: Compilation and Use as statutory guidance under the powers in section 37 of the 2016 Act. Local and National Park authorities in Wales and Natural Resources Wales must have regard to this guidance.

While this guidance has been prepared specifically for the bodies named in section 37 of the Act, it will be of relevance to a range of other public, voluntary and private sector bodies, and individuals with an interest in the historic environment of Wales.

Standards and benchmarks

The historic environment records are maintained and updated for public benefit and use in accordance with national and international standards.

Historic Environment Records in Wales: Standards and Benchmarks explains how the standards should be met and sets out the benchmarks against which the information held by the regional archaeological trusts will be measured every five years.

While intended for those organisations responsible for the delivery of historic environment records in Wales, this guidance will also be of relevance to a range of other public, voluntary and private sector bodies, and individuals with an interest in the historic environment of Wales.

Historic environment record audits

Under its operational arrangements with the Welsh Government, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales has responsibility for the oversight of records relating to the historic environment. On behalf of the Welsh Ministers, the Royal Commission will monitor the standards and service levels of historic environment records in Wales by coordinating and validating audits. Audits take place on a five-year cycle to review data quality, evidence performance against each of the indicators and identify needs for enhancement. Following each audit, five-year plans will be produced to identify priorities for enhancement work, including responding to feedback from users.

On behalf of the Welsh Ministers, the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service (Cadw) will publish an online summary report of the audit of historic environment records. The summary report for the 2015 audit can be downloaded below.