3 National Databases for the non-moveable Cultural Heritage

3.1 The National Sites and Monuments Record

The first steps towards a National Sites and Monuments record in Denmark were taken in 1873, when a national survey of sites was initiated. The location of the sites was marked on maps in the field and all information archived at the Danish National Museum.

Despite the relatively small size of Denmark the survey was not completed before 1937. Since then numerous new sites have reported by the museums, and the record now contains some 155.000 sites with a total of over 200.000 structures. There is an annual addition of c. 3000 sites (For a more detailed history of the Danish NMR, see Christoffersen 1992, Hansen 1992)

In the mid 1980'ies the National Museum started entering the information into a database system, and from 1997 the data has been available on the internet with a map interface. In the early years access was restricted so non-professionals only got limited information and small scale maps, but from 2003 a change in policy resulted in all access restrictions being removed: “If you don't know the precise location of a site, you can't raid it, but if you don't know where it is, you also cannot help protect it” being the rationale behind the policy change.

Data can be viewed as a full text report dynamically generated from the database (example from the Viking Period fortification Fyrkat here) or viewed on a background map (modern, historical or orthophotograph) with other sites of the area.

The NMR data is also available from the National Heritage Agency as GIS-files, and experiments have been carried out in 2004 with the data accessible as a WMS (Web Map Service).

The museums are the main users of the digital data, but an increasing number of counties and municipalities now hold the data and use it in their daily administration. The data is also at the moment being integrated into a suite of historical datasets to be used in primary and grammar schools in geography, history, computer science and social studies.

3.2 Scheduled Monuments

The database of Scheduled Monuments should in theory be a subset of the NMR, but previously the two databases have been administered separately. This situation will be remedied during 2005, where a major restructuring of the NMR is planned. The first promotion of the protected status of monuments happened in 1809. Today there are about 30.000 scheduled monuments registered in the central database. The counties are responsible for keeping the monuments in a fair state of preservation and for keeping public access open to the monuments in the landscape.

3.3 Monument, Ideology and Landscape

Monument, Ideology and Landscape is the most recent addition to the family of national heritage databases in Denmark. In 2000 a survey was undertaken among the (then) 275 Danish municipalities with the intention of recording commemorative monuments and places of national and regional importance. The focus of the survey was not just to record the monuments and places, but also to record their locations in the landscape.

At the Monument, Ideology and Landscape website the database can be searched through a map interface for all monuments of a region, or a search can be performed for monuments commemorating specific events such as the constitution of 1849 or the return of Southern Jutland from Germany following World War I.

Close to 2500 monuments and places are recorded with more to follow. Only a very small number of municipalities have not yet registered their records.

3.4 Listed buildings and buildings worthy of preservation

The first Listed Buildings Act dates to 1918, and has been amended on a number of occasions since then.

Two types of buildings are recorded in the databases of the Heritage Agency: Listed buildings (of which c. 9000 exist) and buildings worthy of preservation (c. 300.000). Listed buildings are buildings with special architectural or historical importance on a national scale and are appointed and monitored by the Heritage Agency, while the buildings listed as worthy of preservation have special local architectural or historical importance and are appointed by municipal authority.

A list of listed buildings sorted by municipality is available online. A fully searchable web interface to both scheduled buildings and buildings worthy of preservation will be launched in August 2005.

3.5 Atlas of Cultural Environments

Although not a database as such the cultural environments atlas initiative is included here, because it draws much of its information content from the databases mentioned above.

The official definition of cultural environment is “A geographically well defined area whose appearance reflects important traits of the local social development”.

The main focus in the first series of atlases was on the built up heritage, but now the atlas gives a more balanced account of all aspects of cultural heritage. It is not a complete catalogue, but rather an elaborate overview of characteristic as well as unique traits of the municipality's cultural heritage. Some of the more recent atlases are available online as well as in print – the most recent being Morsø Kulturmiljøatlas (Print: Jensen et al. (eds.) 2004; online. In the future all atlases will probably be produced in online form only.


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