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Historic Landscape Characterisation

Just over ten years ago English Heritage (EH)

launched its Historic Landscape Characterisation
(HLC) programme. The programme was
established with an aim of creating a framework
to give context to individual monuments and to
raise awareness of the historic dimension of the
landscape we see around us. The first HLC project
took place in Cornwall and it established the basic
aims of all HLC projects that have followed:

To draw a map of the present-day landscape revealing

! the historic elements that form part of it.
To make the characterisation process transparent and
repeatable, whilst providing starting point for further research.

Rather than promote the preservation of one

type of landscape over another or try to prevent
development, HLC helps to ensure that any
changes to the landscape that can be controlled
are undertaken appropriate to the historic
character of that area.

As the HLC programme continues on land, EH is

now piloting HLC in the intertidal and marine zones.
Design by K.Nichols Wessex Archaeology
England's Historic Seascapes

Seascapes is a pilot project to extend historic

landscape characterisation into the intertidal and
marine zones of Liverpool Bay. The project was
commissioned by English Heritage primarily to
improve our understanding of the natural processes
and man-made activities that have shaped the
seabed and intertidal zones that we see today.

The project has 17 aims and objectives, and chief

amongst these are the following:

To contribute to government agendas for

! integrated spatial planning
To create a framework of understanding which will
structure and promote well-informed decision making
To enhance and contextualise the Maritime Record
! of the National Monuments Record
To improve awareness, understanding and
appreciation of the marine historic environment
To be demonstration project and specifically
! produce a model for extending the methodology
! to further project areas

As the coast and seabed of England is subject

to increasing development pressure, central
government has expressed the need to develop
marine spatial planning to ensure sustainable
development. England’s Historic Seascapes is a
tool for providing easily assimilated data to those
who require an understanding of the intertidal
Copyright Environment Agency

and marine zone’s historic environment to assist

in the development of management priorities.
Design by K.Nichols Wessex Archaeology
Liverpool Bay


The pilot area for England’s Historic Seascapes

stretches from the Dee Estuary in the south to Blackpool

Rossall Point in the north, and includes Liverpool Preston

Bay as far offshore as the 12 nautical mile limit

R. Ribble

of territorial waters. The area includes submerged Southport

prehistoric landscapes overlain with later Holocene

deposits, and over 2400 documented shipwrecks.
In terms of the evidence for early human activity, Meols Liverpool

human footprints from the Neolithic or early

Bronze Age are preserved in the intertidal zone R.
R. Mersey

in Merseyside. Intensive early seafaring activity

is recorded by Ptolemy who noted that Portus
Wa l e s

Setantiorum (possibly located near Fleetwood)

was the only pre-Roman port on the western
seaboard of Britain.

The pilot area overlies the approaches to large urban

centres such as Liverpool, Chester and Preston.
Shipping activity across Liverpool Bay, particularly to
the large port of Liverpool, increased as the city became
a centre for trade with the New World colonies exporting
coal, salt textiles and slaves. In the nineteenth century
Blackpool developed rapidly as a seaside resort with its
famous piers dating from this period.

Today Liverpool Bay is exploited for oil, gas, aggregates

and renewable energy. Intensive seafaring activity
continues with Liverpool handling more container cargo
from North America than any other UK port, and with
smaller harbours providing the base for commercial
fisheries and recreational sailing.
Design by K.Nichols Wessex Archaeology
The ferry across the Mersey is one of the best known aspects of
maritime history in Liverpool Bay. F ormal ferry services across
the Mersey have been in existence since the 13 th century. The
Prior of Birkenhead was given a charter for a Liverpool to
Woodside ferry in 1318.

The Albert Dock represents the huge expansion of Liverpool's

port in the 19 th century. Designed by dock engineer Jesse
Hartley the Albert Dock was the first one in Liverpool designed
with warehouses. The dock was opened in 1845. The last dock
to open in Liverpool was the Royal Seaforth Dock which opened
in 1972.

Sand dunes on the coast of Liverpool Bay. The coastal and

intertidal areas of Liverpool consist of many different
environment types with many different features, such as
estuaries, sandy beaches and rocky foreshore, with buried
peats, submerged forests, intertidal fish traps and abandoned
navigational markers.
Design by K.Nichols Wessex Archaeology
Marine and Intertidal
Historic Landscape Characterisation

Whilst English Heritage's Historic Landscape Bibliographic research and

aquisition of digital datasets 1
Characterisation (HLC) programme has been
existence for over a decade, it has never been
comprehensively applied to the intertidal and
marine zones.

The most obvious difference between terrestrial

and marine characterisation is that there are far
fewer area demarcations shown on the main
source of offshore mapping (Admiralty charts).
In terrestrial HLC projects, for example, field Create intermediate themed mapping 2
boundaries and property lines shown on OS
mapping can often be used to demarcate the
extent of character areas. However, in the
intertidal and marine zones, character areas
are often far less obvious and their extents
much more diffuse.

As a consequence, Wessex Archaeology's (WA)

characterisation process evolved to include five
phases. During the first phase the project team
Intergrate to a single polygon layer 3
accessed a variety of different sources, including
historic maps and charts, sites and monuments
records, geological and environmental data,
and used GIS to analyse and find combinations
of character attributes to encourage the
boundaries to reveal themselves.

The second phase involved the creation of

intermediate mapping generated with the Define character areas 4
themes of 'Sea Use Present', 'Sea Use Past'
and 'Environmental Characteristics' such as
exposures of palaeoenvironmental deposits.

A model of coastal change has been generated

to assess the progress of the most recent marine
transgression dating from 12,500 years ago to
present day. In phase three the model of coastal
change and the intermediate the med mapping
have been combined to produce a final layer of Develop multimedia resources 5
polygons. During phases four and five patterning
of the polygons has been analysed to find areas
with similar attributes (Character Areas) and a
series of offline html pages have been generated
containing descriptive text, bibliographies and
multi-media resources such as digital photographs,
historic images, and video footage.
Design by K.Nichols Wessex Archaeology
Shipbuilding in Liverpool Bay has been largely focussed on
Liverpool and Birkenhead on the Mersey. Shipbuilding as a
large industry began in Liverpool in the 17 century. Most of

the larger shipbuilding firms were out of business by the end

of the 19 th century, although some smaller vessel building
and ship repair continues today.

Wrecks in Liverpool Bay. This map shows the known wreck sites
within the Seascapes pilot area. The shipwreck record is biased
towards vessels lost since the 18 th century when losses were
systematically recorded. Many earlier wrecks going back to
humans ' earliest coastal and seafaring voyages may well
survive undiscovered in Liverpool Bay.
Copyright National Monuments Record

Liverpool Bay is under increasing pressures from development.

Oil and gas exploitation as well as wind farm development of
the type pictured here all contribute to the modern character
of the area. Future developments of this kind will use HLC to
ensure they are undertaken in tune with the character of the area.
Design by K.Nichols Wessex Archaeology