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London Research Strategy



A strategy for researching the historic environment of Greater London is the final instalment of the three-part research framework for London. The Strategy follows on from a Resource Assessment (Archaeology of Greater London MOLA 2000) and a Research Agenda (Research framework for London Archaeology MOLA 2002). While parts 1 and 2 of the framework were traditional paper publications the new Strategy is an on-line pdf, a webpage, social media and links to other groups, placing the emphasis on participation, interaction and discussion to take research in new and exciting directions. We hope that this Strategy will help researchers – amateur and professional, academic or community-based – to successfully navigate the sometimes choppy waters of heritage guidelines to develop new research topics.

The Strategy extends beyond archaeology to include the broader historic environment – all aspects of the physical evidence for past human activity. Over 300 consultees from a wide variety of backgrounds played a part in developing the document, giving their time to discuss ideas for promoting research and identifying priorities. It is not intended as the final word on the subject but a starting point which we hope you will not only read but contribute to, helping us add to it and develop it in new and interesting directions over the coming years.

The Strategy (Research Strategy pdf final November 2015) sets out a series of inter-related Research Elements that can be applied to the historic environment of the Greater London area, summarising recent research work in these terms. A proposed five-year Action Plan is also outlined, including Strategic Actions to facilitate the development of a research culture and Research Priorities related to national, thematic and regional research strategies. Identification of particular projects is limited to a few examples – the hope is that we can work together and share ideas to help develop projects and shape the strategy over time. The Case Studies show that London’s historic environment research sector is alive and well but that there is potential for it to expand and evolve.

We look forward to your comments and contributions to the Strategy via our Facebook page, forum and other discussion groups that we will be developing over the next few months.


First meeting of the Advisory Board (Steering Group)

Note: This is an edited summary of a meeting held at the Museum of London on March 24th 2017 and is based on minutes issued in August 2017

Present: David Bowsher, Vanessa Harding, Nick Holder, Sandy Kidd, Jackie Kielly, Jane Sidell (chair), Roy Stephenson, Kathryn Stubbs.

Purpose of Meeting:  Following an introduction, the Chair outlined that the meeting was called to discuss the 3-part London Research Framework and how to take it forward, through the establishment of an Advisory Board (also known as the Steering Group) in the first instance.

Aspirations for the London Research Strategy document (the third part of the framework) were summarised. A pdf of the Strategy document can be found on the CBA London website at Its priority aims were identified as:

  • Strengthening links between academic and curatorial archaeologists.

  • Assessing how to make the strategy document a useful management and planning tool for the Greater London Archaeological Advisory Service (GLAAS).

  • Acting to bring the various and disparate parts of the heritage sector together, particularly by promoting collaborative archaeological and historical research projects.

It was noted that a larger and more diverse Steering Group membership will help in advancing these aims. Suggestions for additional members were tabled and included the Survey of London, the London Gardens Trust, the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis, Borough Museums, Local Societies, Local Authority Conservation Officers, the London Metropolitan Archive, the Centre for Metropolitan History, the Thames Discovery Programme and others.

Action: new members to be invited to join the Steering Group in due course.

Terms of Reference

The remit of the Steering Group was discussed and those present agreed that it should be allowed to draw up its own terms of reference. It was felt that the Strategy had some shortcomings but that a year should be given for the Steering Group to work with it to try and build on the strategic aims. It was suggested that it might be best to rein in the scope of the Strategy to focus on archaeology rather than continuing to follow the original brief for including the broader historic environment.

It was noted that the London Research Strategy could learn from the work of other successful regional research agendas, particularly the East Midlands and East of England projects, as well as recent documents developed for the HS2 project. It was also felt that the London Assessment Document (MoL 2000), the first part of the framework, would benefit from updating and that its summary of the post-medieval period was particularly in need of expansion.

Action: Approach Historic England to establish whether the Steering Group can develop its own terms of reference and confirm any oversight arrangements required.

Research Audit

The meeting felt that a research audit was an essential first step in the implementation of the Strategy: without understanding the scale of projects currently being undertaken it will be difficult to identify new research priorities or create links and networks for collaboration. Understanding research impacts and needs will also assist universities in making robust grant applications. Creating an online research portal or register where people could share their research projects and interests would also be beneficial. The role of the LAARC in the implementation process will need further exploration.

Action: Put the undertaking of an audit and creation of a Register of Research Interests on the agenda for next meeting.

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