Keys to the Past

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I find out more information about a site on Keys to the Past?

The records held on Keys to the Past are simplified versions of the full records held on the Historic Environment Records (HER) in Durham and Morpeth. It is also possible to see the original versions on the internet. Both versions can be reached through the Archaeological Data Service.

In the list of references for the Keys to the Past records it may say that unpublished sources were used. Further information about these sources can found by contacting the relevant HER.

It is important to note that the information on this website is not always up to date and that any commercial organisations should contact the relevant office to do an archaeological data search for desk based assessments or other commercial archaeological work.

Some of the books and journals listed are not in my local library. Where can I find copies?

Archaeologists often publish their work in specialist journals, and these are often not easy to find. However, it is possible to find many of the more important local journals in local libraries. The best starting point in Durham is the Local Studies department in your library. In Northumberland, Morpeth Reference library should be the first place you try. Another important library is the Local Studies Centre, which is part of Newcastle City Library. The library of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle is also an important resource for all those interested in the archaeology of the north-east. This is open to members of the Society, though non-members may visit by arrangement with the Librarian.

Contacts:
Durham Clayport Library 
Reference and Local Studies Department 
Millennium Place 
Durham City 
DH1 1WQ 
Tel: 0191 3864003 
Fax: 0191 3860379

Morpeth Reference Library 
Gas House Lane 
Morpeth 
NE61 1TA 
Tel: 01670 534 514 
Fax: 01670 534 513

Newcastle City Library
Princess Square, 
Newcastle upon Tyne, 
NE99 1 DX
Tel: 0191 277 4100.

Librarian, 
The Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Great North Museum: Hancock
Barras Bridge
Newcastle-upon-Tyne
NE2 4PT
Tel: 0191 222 3555
email: admin@newcastle-antiquaries.org.uk

Is it possible to visit these sites?

Just because a site appears on Keys to the Past does not mean that it is open or accessible to the general public. Many of the sites recorded on this website are in private hands or on private land. Consult the appropriate Ordnance Survey map to see if it lies on a public right of way. English Heritage and the National Trust own many properties in the north-east, which are open to the public.

The Keys to the Past record says that a site is a Scheduled Monument. What does this mean?

If an ancient monument is of national importance archaeologists may decide that it should be protected for future generations. At this point it is put on a special list, or Schedule. Any site on this list becomes legally protected. This means that it is necessary to seek permission to do any work on these sites. This includes modern development, as well as archaeological work, including excavation or geophysical survey. If somebody wants to carry out such work they have to consult English Heritage. Only a small proportion of archaeological sites are Scheduled Monuments, but a large project is underway to increase this number.

The Keys to the Past record says that a site is a Listed Building. What does this mean?

Listed Buildings are buildings that have been placed on a list, which means that are legally protected because of their historical or architectural importance. There are several different grades of protection. Grade I buildings are of the highest importance, and include nationally important buildings, such as Durham Cathedral and Bamburgh Castle. Grade II buildings tend to include more typical examples of local or historical building types, and can be found in many of the villages and towns of the north-east. Grade II* buildings come in between these two groups. Further information about Listed Buildings can be found on the

Just because a site appears on Keys to the Past does not mean that it is open or accessible to the general public. Many of the sites recorded on this website are in private hands or on private land. Consult the appropriate Ordnance Survey map to see if it lies on a public right of way. English Heritage and the National Trust own many properties in the north-east, which are open to the public. If an ancient monument is of national importance archaeologists may decide that it should be protected for future generations. At this point it is put on a special list, or . Any site on this list becomes legally protected. This means that it is necessary to seek permission to do any work on these sites. This includes modern development, as well as archaeological work, including excavation or geophysical survey. If somebody wants to carry out such work they have to consult English Heritage. Only a small proportion of archaeological sites are Scheduled Monuments, but a large project is underway to increase this number. Listed Buildings are buildings that have been placed on a list, which means that are legally protected because of their historical or architectural importance. There are several different grades of protection. Grade I buildings are of the highest importance, and include nationally important buildings, such as Durham Cathedral and Bamburgh Castle. Grade II buildings tend to include more typical examples of local or historical building types, and can be found in many of the villages and towns of the north-east. Grade II* buildings come in between these two groups. Further information about Listed Buildings can be found on the Images of England website.

Is metal detecting legal?

Metal detectorists have found some of the most impressive archaeological finds of the last few decades. From Prehistoric and Roman gold and bronze hoards to weapons and Medieval gold jewels, regular reports of discoveries appear in the media. If the discovery comes within the terms of the 1996 Treasure Act, the finder and the owner of the land may receive a proportion of its worth from the appropriate museum. Metal detecting is legal if it is done with the permission of the landowner (who is the legal owner of any finds), and is not done on a scheduled (protected) ancient monument [these are very often not marked as such - so it is up to the individual to make sure a site is not scheduled before they consider detecting on it].

Most metal detectorists are responsible people with a deep interest in the past, many of whom belong to clubs. Archaeologists have built up a good working relationship with clubs, particularly the finds liaison officers in the national Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS), who work regionally and encourage the reporting and accurate recording of finds and find spots. Through initiatives like the PAS, thousands of finds have been recorded which otherwise may have been lost to archaeological research. Archaeologists have been able to respond positively to discoveries and mount investigative fieldwork at find-spots, which often produces extremely important new evidence. Legitimate metal detectorists are therefore becoming an integral part of the archaeological community.

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