**All archaeologists, paid or voluntary, are stewards of the archaeological resource. Therefore we recommend that the following is read and kept in consideration by anybody engaging with the historic environment.**
Stewardship is about responsibility for taking care of the heritage. Increasingly voluntary groups take responsibility for looking after archaeological sites and historic buildings and landscapes, and for ensuring that they are maintained in a sound condition, safely accessible for public enjoyment and understanding. This standard is an overarching one designed for the wide range of tasks of involved in managing and conserving historic assets sustainably.
Stewardship activities respect the values attached to historic assets and places, and ensure their conservation for the benefit of people today and in the future. Stewardship tasks must be informed by sufficient understanding of significance and condition for the task in hand. They should be carried out using methods that are fit for purpose and appropriately documented.
Anyone responsible for stewardship activities should be aware of and adhere to the Codes of Conduct adopted by the Institute for Archaeologists (IfA) and the Institute for Historic Building Conservation (IHBC), and take due account of prevailing legislation and policies. These are shown in the Appendices of the IfA Standard and Guidance for Stewardship of the Historic Environment, which is available online (www.archaeologists.net/codes/ifa for the standards and guidance menu) or by contacting the IfA.
Key words to bear in mind when thinking about Stewardship are:
1. **Stewardship** protects and enhances what is valued in inherited historic assets and places. It responds to the needs and perceptions of people today and seeks to have regard for the needs of those in the future. The stewardship role includes undertaking conservation management tasks, communicating the public value of the heritage, promoting community awareness of the historic environment and encouraging active engagement in protection and enhancement.
2. **Values** are cultural, social and economic attributes, aspects of worth or importance, ascribed to historic assets and places. Distinct sets of values can complement or conflict with each other.
3. **Historic assets** are the material products of past human activity, discrete entities of recognised value at any scale from artefact to landscape. They can be, or can form part of, **places**, environmental locations people perceive as having a distinctive identity.
4. **Conservation** is the process of managing change through strategies and tasks that sustain the significance of inherited historic assets and places so that they can be used and enjoyed now and in the future. This can be done:
(a) **physically or intrusively**, through interventions to protect significant fabric, character or appearance,
(b) **intellectually or non-intrusively**, through activities such as research, investigation, interpretation, communication and advocacy that promote beneficial change or alter perceptions of the asset and its context.
5. The **benefits** derived from historic assets – which can be cultural, economic, social, and environmental – flow from enjoying them and investing in their conservation
6. The **significance** of an historic asset or place is the sum of the cultural, natural, and social values ascribed to it. Economic value in this context is restricted to its functional contribution towards economic activity rather than to its market value or costs associated with its conservation.
7. The **condition** of an historic asset or place is the state of repair and material stability in which it currently survives.
8. **Documentation** of an historic asset or place includes documentary evidence for the past human activities associated with it, (often as copies or transcripts) and the records generated by conservation management and investigation of it as an historic asset. **Documents** can be artefacts in their own right as well as sources of evidence.
See the [Glossary: Technical Archaeological Terms](/docs/16c) for more comprehensive list of stewardship terms.
In informed stewardship of the historic environment, there is a sequence of three key questions that aim to help sustain what is valued in the historic environment for present and future generations. These focus around the headings of **understanding**, **benefiting**, and **managing**:
* ‘What’ is the significance of the historic assets in question (understanding)?
* ‘Why’ are they useful in terms of the benefits they bring (benefitting)?
* ‘How’ are they best managed for sustainable change (managing)?
Community groups and volunteers have a role to play in all these areas of activity.
The table below shows the key components to each of the key questions. This table is taken from the IfA Standard and Guidance for Stewardship of the Historic Environment. A detailed description of each of the key points can be found in that document (available at http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/node-files/ifa_standar...).
We recommend that you read this document closely if you or your group is considering becoming involved in stewardship of the historic environment. This document is an introductory summary to that guidance.
|Understanding – What?||Benefiting – Why?||Managing – How?|
**1.1 What is it?**
1. Components and contexts
**1.2 How old is it?**
1. Absolute and relative dating
**1.3 How do we know?**
**1.4 What is its significance?**
1. Significance and values
**2.1 Adding to knowledge**
**2.2 Functional uses**
1. Optimum uses
**2.3 Social and community benefit**
1. Community identity and cohesion
**2.4 Economic benefit**
1. Adding value in regeneration
**2.5 Leisure and tourism interest**
1. Managing visitor attractions
**3.1 Overall frameworks**
1. Commonality of process
**3.2 Informing proposals & decisions**
1. Preliminary investigations
**3.3 Advising and deciding**
1. Considering options
**3.4 Implementing decisions**
1. Continuity of expertise and experience
1. Documenting tasks and activities
1. Communicating historic interest
1. ###Understanding – what are we conserving?
Sound stewardship is based on a good understanding of the significance of what is being affected by change, whether as the first stage in developing a proposal or in response to a proposal that has already been made. Essential aspects to consider are its physical characteristics, information already available, the past human activities that it represents and the range of values that contribute to its overall significance. Gaining the understanding needed for the task in hand may require research activities, such as investigation and recording, that are themselves a major use of historic assets.
Consider in particular:
* **What is it?**
Misunderstanding or incomplete understanding of historic assets causes avoidable controversy, hindering care and communication.
* **How old is it?**
The age of an historic asset is a key element of its significance and a source of major interest, requiring careful and accurate expression, qualified as necessary.
* **How do we know?**
Information is needed about the source, nature, completeness and reliability of the evidence upon which the understanding of historic assets depends.
* **What is its significance?**
The significance of an historic asset or place is the totality of its ascribed cultural, natural, and social values.
2. ###Benefiting – why are we conserving?
The wide range of potential uses for historic assets, from academic to functional, reflect values derived from cultural, economic, environmental and social interests.
Consider in particular:
* **Adding to knowledge and understanding**
Research in the service of conservation management, focussed on understanding the physical assets themselves, uses the approaches and methods that apply generally in research to increase knowledge and understanding of past human activity..
* **Functional uses**
Sustainable uses justify retaining historic assets, whether by continuing original ones, or introducing alternatives after careful assessment of significance.
* **Social and community benefit**
Contrasts and continuities between past and present societies can invest historic assets and places with a significance that supports awareness of community and a sense of place and personal roots.
* **Economic benefit**
Conserving historic assets can bring economic benefits through revived or alternative uses. By themselves or together with the value of social benefits, these can equal or exceed the financial costs of conservation.
* **Leisure and tourism interest**
Community benefit is connected with leisure interest, economic benefit with tourism interest. For historic assets to serve them all requires a good understanding of their particular qualities and of public expectations.
3. ###Managing – how do we conserve?
Historic assets are managed effectively by facilitating sympathetic and sustainable uses. This requires considered and proportionate decisions based on well informed proposals that minimise avoidable destruction, prevent incremental loss and decay, and ensure appropriate repairs.
Consider in particular:
* **Overall frameworks**
Like all tasks and activities, stewardship benefits from a consistent framework of approach.
* **Informing proposals and decisions**
An understanding of the significance of an historic asset (Sections 1, 2.1) is fundamental to the design of stewardship tasks and activities.
* **Advising and deciding**
Stewardship advice and decisions should be reasonable; they should balance conflicting factors and show awareness of possible implications.
* **Implementing decisions**
Some general considerations can contribute towards successful outcomes of stewardship tasks and activities, in addition to those that are largely a matter for more detailed guidance.
The documentation of stewardship tasks and activities covers work done to historic assets as well as what is known about their significance.
## Suggested further reading
### IfA Standards and Guidance
* [IfA Standards and Guidance for Stewardship of the Historic Environment](http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/node-files/ifa_standar...) (pdf file)
* [IfA Introduction to Standards and Guidance](http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/node-files/ifa_standar...) (pdf file)
* [IfA Appendices to Standards and Guidance](http://www.archaeologists.net/sites/default/files/node-files/ifa_standar...) (pdf file)
### Other References
* [Archaeology Scotland (no date) Adopt-a-Monument Project Folder](http://www.archaeologyscotland.org.uk/sites/default/files/Guide.pdf.pdf) (pdf file)
* [English Heritage, (2008) Conservation Principles, Policies and Guidance for the sustainable management of the historic environment. London, English Heritage](http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/professional/advice/conservation-prin...)
* [Historic Scotland (2008) Scottish Planning Policy (SPP 23): Planning and the Historic Environment. Edinburgh, Historic Scotland](http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/242900/0067569.pdf) (pdf file)
* [Welsh Office/ Cadw, (2009) Conservation Principles, Policies and Guidance for the sustainable management of the historic environment in Wales. Cardiff, Welsh Office/Cadw](http://wales.gov.uk/consultations/cultureandsport/conservation/?lang=en)
* [Natural England (2010) Technical Information Note no. 086: Illustrated guide to managing historic environment features. Sheffield, Natural England](http://naturalengland.etraderstores.com/NaturalEnglandShop/TIN086)
### Other Guidance Sources
* Cadw provide a range of conservation publications. These can be accessed at: http://www.cadw.wales.gov.uk/default.asp?id=126&navId=15&parentId=15.
* English Heritage also provide a database of guidelines and standards for different elements of archaeological practice. Most can be downloaded as free .pdf documents: http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/publications.
* Scotland’s Rural Past (http://www.scotlandsruralpast.org.uk) is a five-year HLF-funded project working across Scotland which provides local communities with an opportunity to get involved with surveying and recording settlement sites in their local areas. SRP have provided a set of guidance for their groups, much of which deals with different archaeological methods. This guidance can be accessed at http://www.scotlandsruralpast.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=a....
* For more detailed advice on digital archiving, see the advice pages offered by the Archaeology Data Service at: http://ads.ahds.ac.uk/project/goodguides/g2gp.html and http://guides.archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/.