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2.2 Buildings archaeology, conservation and digital recording

Although the concept of the archaeological record is crucial to the practice of below-ground archaeology, it has also informed the sub-discipline of the archaeology of buildings, even though it is much more rarely concerned with the concept of 'preservation by record' (see useful summaries of these debates in Cooper 1988; Fernie 1988; Leech 2006 and more recent summaries of both methodological and theoretical approaches in Giles 2014 and Reynolds 2009). In the UK, from the 1990s onwards buildings' archaeology has been embedded in the practice of conservation, following the guidance of English Heritage (English Heritage 2006; CIfA 2014 and examples in Heaton 2007, 2012; Neale 2010; Swallow et al. 2004; Wood 1994). Internationally, the role of architectural recording and documentation has also been widely accepted as an essential part of the management of cultural heritage (see for example ICOMOS 1990; a useful summary of the key charters in Eppich et al. 2007, and see also Letellier 2007 and Brusaporci 2015 for the most recent manuals on the application of digital recording techniques in the field).

Increasing awareness of the significance of cultural heritage, but also its vulnerability in the face of geo-political threats, has led to landmark global documentation projects such as The Scottish Ten and Heritage3D. At one level these projects demonstrate the potential of digital recording to offer creative solutions for the recording of vulnerable cultural heritage assets. Yet the cost, size and preservation issues of the datasets generated by these technologies has also reminded archaeologists that recording should not simply be driven by capacity, but rather by a sense of how data can be used to manage, conserve and understand these globally-significant heritage sites (see for example Historic England 2011; Miller 2012; Payne 2009).


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