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5.3 Links

An early concept of the NMRS computerisation was to link the NMRS database to museum databases to provide links between sites and finds. This has not yet proved possible as the driving forces for museum databases have not paralleled those for information retrieval in the NMRs. This is an area of development that would be of considerable benefit to the archaeological community and will be achieved eventually. More recently it has been suggested that the work of specialists should also be retrievable, linked where appropriate to site-specific information, but also allowing interrogation by theme and content.

Links with SMRs have been explored on a number of occasions. The relationship between national and local records is one that is addressed differently in each country and is not satisfactorily resolved in Scotland (Baker 1999a and 1999b). There is a continuing debate concerning the level and detail of information held at local and national level and how much duplication of effort there is in practice to update and maintain the databases.

To provide a facility for the integration of data references for site-specific links and to encompass chronological data, an events table is being developed for the NMRS. An early version of this was designed for the original database, but never populated with data. With the development of events tables in SMRs and in the NMR in England, the benefits can be clearly demonstrated. Improved access to data that are currently embedded in text, such as dates of interventions or active fieldwork can be achieved and the concept can be extended to include dates of map revision work and links or indexes to museum finds and specialist databases. It can be used to record chronological change, e.g. use of buildings such as conversion of a church to a theatre, and other chronological events, such as change of names.

Links with other networks must be an urgent development to extend the range and relevance of the records. Links to tourism, libraries and schools should be among our targets. These links may not be direct but could be via a mediated source as is already the case through SCRAN (schools) and ADS (higher education) or through the networks already operating in these sectors. A Z39.50 link is in place with ADS and a pilot project has successfully provided proof of concept. Site-specific links are also in place with Historic Scotland databases and prove valuable. Working with these sectors as well as developing online access to the database has been instrumental in forming a view for the future.

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Last updated: Fri Jan 30 2004