Farming the Historic Landscape

The need for information

Effective conservation or restoration requires a thorough understanding of the building or site. Obtaining specialist advice early on in any conservation or restoration programme will minimise the risk of expensive delays, unexpected problems and the destruction of important information about the past.

The importance of the building in terms of its architectural, historic and landscape value will often need to be assessed at the beginning of a conservation scheme, even if the building is not listed.

Careful analysis of a building may reveal important information about the way the building was constructed, altered and used in the past. Often the evidence is in small details, such as empty joints and peg holes in timber. Provision for properly recording and reporting on the meaning of such features may be required. On farmsteads that have medieval origins, there may also be archaeological evidence for earlier buildings or uses on the site.

(D) Keeping historic farm buildings in active farm use is the best way of safeguarding their character: thatched cowshed at Over Wallop, Hampshire. Photograph: Hampshire County Council.

(E) Interior fixtures and fittings are an important aspect of historic character and should be retained wherever possible. Interior of traditional cow house attached to a timber-framed barn, Norfolk.  Photograph: English Heritage.

(F) Agricultural buildings other than barns and farmhouses, such as this pigsty in the Dales, are under-represented in the statutory lists but make an important contribution to the character of the farmyard. Photograph: Defra.

Where a major conservation scheme is being undertaken, analysis of the importance of a building, its fabric and particular elements within it, such as animal stalls, should inform the work of other specialists, such as architects and structural engineers, guiding decisions on the use of particular conservation techniques. Architects, surveyors or structural engineers employed to manage and advise on schemes should be experienced in the conservation of traditional buildings. Building contractors should have proven experience of the traditional building techniques required. The Local Authority Conservation Officer should be able to provide contact details of historic building consultants able to undertake survey and analysis of farm buildings.

ADLib logo Content provided by the Agricultural Document Library
© University of Hertfordshire, 2011