Protecting our archaeology

As so little serious archaeology has yet been carried out in this area, it is all the more important to protect those sites with archaeological potential, including standing buildings the histories of which are not fully known.

All such sites ought to be recorded on the Derbyshire Heritage Environment Record (HER) which can be accessed, together with all the national heritage databases, via the search facility of the Heritage Gateway. However, although there are around 360 HER entries for the area, many important sites are not yet included, and many of the existing entries are incomplete or inaccurate. Since planners, developers, and the archaeologists advising them rely on the HER to warn them of possible archaeology, there is a high risk of important sites being unwittingly damaged or destroyed. New sites and finds can be logged, and existing entries amended, by sending details to the HER Officer (see contact details at the HER web-page). The HER Officer also keeps copies of all archaeological investigations carried out on behalf of developers, and the County Council also maintains a Register of Historic Buildings at Risk. In May 2017 three buildings in this area were on this register.

Standing buildings or architectural features of known heritage importance ought to be on the National Heritage List for England. There are around 115 listings for the area, but many were made up to 50 years ago when there was a much greater emphasis on architectural merit and originality as opposed to historical significance, so many old, but plain or modified buildings were omitted, and listing was often done from the street without viewing interiors or inaccessible elevations, leading to superficial conclusions. Much also depended on the policy of the individual lister, so some ancient villages such as Whitfield have large numbers of Listed Buildings, others such as Tintwistle very few.

A plan by High Peak Borough Council to compile a Local Heritage Register has not yet been taken forward, but it has completed Character Appraisals on most of the 14 Conservation Areas in the Societyís area, which include 8 of the old villages. These contain valuable information on features of historic importance including known or potential archaeology, and should alert the Councilís Conservation Officer when scrutinising planning applications from these areas.