Featured Dataset: English Heritage

Posted on 07/12/2011 by


English Heritage Logo The dataset English Heritage is full of information covering one of my favourite topics: historic locations. The set comprises metadata for around 400,000 places the UK Government’s adviser on the historic environment (English Heritage) records. Ian Davis published this conversion of data available directly from English Heritage, interlinked with location information from the Ordnance Survey.

This dataset covers features located in England and is divided into various types:

  • Listed Buildings – buildings of special architectural or historic interest
  • Scheduled Monuments – nationally important sites and monuments from all periods of history
  • Registered Parks & Gardens – landscapes and naturally occurring features of national importance
  • Historic Battlefields – sites of important battles in English history
  • Protected Wreck Sites – sites of shipwrecks of national importance

The Developer Documentation outlines the details of the data, including a view of how it is modelled and what it contains. A look at the Geometry section, for example, explains how the shape, scale and coordinates of historic sites are described.

At our hackday at the offices, Ian put together an app which navigates through historically-significant places. You can have a look at the “Browse English Heritage Sites” app which overlays the shapefiles of the locations on a map, and you can navigate through by borough.

If you take a look at the custom Historic Battlefield Locations API, you can see where another user (Charles), has provided a different perspective on the data, by “playing with geo location of battlefield sites.” This is a stored SPARQL procedure, which can be executed with a GET request to its URL. You can create other Stored procedures, or even a sample query (which can then also be turned into a stored procedure) from its SPARQL endpoint. Tony created a sample query which is looking for Churches within the dataset, for example. The samples can be created and shared, and by storing them as a separate API, the queries can be bound to URLs.

Ian’s hack, Charles’ customised API, and Tony’s sample query illustrate some of the potential of this dataset, and highlights how Kasabi lets different users work together on a dataset. I’m also hoping to see more built on it. The Developer Documentation lists a few possible uses:

  • Checking whether a building is listed for planning purposes
  • Displaying historic monuments and buildings for local history studies
  • Planning heritage holidays or tours

English Heritage is also featuring in the Discovery developers’ challenge, and is described in the CKAN registry.

So, I’m hoping to see some more built with English Heritage (and more related datasets published too.) To me, the idea of a mobile app which takes you on a tour of selected historic sites would be fantastic! So, what can you build?

Posted in: Datasets