Skip to content
  1. Do it online
  2. Login
  3. Have your say
  4. My Durham

There is currently a problem with our image galleries. We are working to get them fixed. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

Historic Environment Record

We maintain an Historic Environment Record (HER), which is the principal source of information about the historic environment of County Durham and Darlington. The HER is a computerised index that records all aspects of our surrounding environment that have been built, formed or influenced by human activity.

The HER is managed and organised on a computer database, which is combined with Geographical Information System (GIS) mapping technology. The computer database is supplemented with various types of information, such as plans, photographs, reports, books, maps, etc, which can be in hard copy or digital formats.

Councils, developers, consultants, academic researchers and members of the public all use the HER.

Currently, Durham's HER has approximately 25,000 records (August 2023). There records are constantly being edited and updated as new research or finds are continually added.

Any research requiring up-to-date results should be made by consulting our Archaeology Section directly. This is essential if your enquiry concerns any planning matters.

Some information from the HER is available to the public through the Keys to the Past website. This website contains an edited version of both Durham and Northumberland County Council HER's. It is a useful tool for local researcher but should not be used to inform planning application supporting documents as it does not have all the data available.

Please note that archaeological contractors / heritage professionals must not use "Keys to the Past" as a primary source for planning reports. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) clearly states in Section 12 paragraph 128, that the primary source to be consulted for heritage issues is the county/local HER.

Historic landscape Characterisation information is also available to view at Historic landscape characterisation or to download at Archaeology Data Service: County Durham and Darlington Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC).

The information on the HER is copyright to Durham County Council.

Frequently Asked Questions

We have produced a FAQ document which aims to explain the Historic Environment Record to users. It is based on enquiries about the system that the HER Officer has been asked on more than one occasion about things users are unclear about. It will help users understand better the information they have been sent, and its limitations. Please see the following document for details:

Historic Environment Record - Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) [136KB]

Reference Collection guide 

A brief summary of the various types of collections held within the HER, and how they can be accessed, so users can make best use of the HER, and get the maximum information from it. As work is done on the collections, to make them more accessible, it will be updated periodically. Please see the following document for details:

Historic Environment Record - Guide to reference collections (PDF) [122KB]

How to get the most out of the HER

The following document explains how we think you can best query the HER to get the best results. The document also explains a little about our data to help you make best use of it.

How to get the most out of the Historic Environment Record (PDF) [88KB]

Information Services Policy

Access to the HER is governed by our Information Services Policy. This gives details on what information you will receive, and what information we need from you to process your request. Please see the following document for details:

Historic Environment Record - information services policy (PDF) [152KB]


We charge contractors and consultants for commercial enquiries relating to planning matters. 

Historic Environment Record - Charging Scheme (PDF) [288KB]

Services the HER provides

County Durham HER is a public record, and we welcome enquiries and further information from anyone with an interest in the archaeology of the county. It is held at the Council Offices in Green Lane, Spennymoor, where anyone can make an appointment to see it.

We are able to provide the following resources to researchers:

  • desk space and a computer terminal (which needs to be booked in advance)
  • expert staff on hand to assist, advise and answer queries
  • access to websites with interpreted information and a fully searchable version of the current/up-to-date HER database
  • printing/photocopying at a minimal charge

Please note that due to staffing changes, Rapid Response HER searches will not be available until further notice.


Share this page

Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Twitter