West Berkshire Council

Looking into West Berkshire's Past

Getting involved in discovering, preserving and protecting the manmade heritage of the district

Carrying out research

As a starting point, you can find out what is already known on the West Berkshire Historic Environment Record (HER).  The HER can point you to primary sources of information, such as the original documents held by the Berkshire Record Office in Reading, as well as secondary sources such as reports held in various locations. We have also undertaken research projects to provide a better understanding of the character of our district. The West Berkshire Museum contains a huge array of artefacts and archaeological archives in its collections, as well as journals, books and resources in its own library.  Lots of other reference material can be found in West Berkshire libraries, in particular in Newbury Central Library.

Increasingly, high quality resources about the historic environment can be accessed online, such as those available through the Archaeology Data Service.

Joining a local organisation

There are several archaeological and historical societies which retain a Berkshire-wide focus in their activities:

Berkshire also falls within the Council for British Archaeology Wessex Region and the regional group organises events and activities.

The West Berkshire Heritage Forum is an alliance that aims to encourage partnership working to protect and promote the district's heritage.  The forum has adopted a pdf icon Historic Environment Action Plan (HEAP) [4Mb] that seeks to highlight what is special and important about the local historic environment, what the key challenges are and what the priorities for action should be in West Berkshire.  We're working together with the West Berkshire Heritage Forum to manage the process of local listing.

A recent round-up of activities and events organised by local groups is included in the Heritage in West Berkshire report.  Forthcoming walks, talks and events can be seen in the West Berkshire Heritage What's On Calendar.

Telling us what you've discovered

The West Berkshire Historic Environment Record is an ever-growing index of information, which has been gathered over many years from various sources, including reports from individuals and societies.  If you have uncovered archaeological features do get in touch with the archaeology service.  You can also submit new findings and tell us about the condition of sites, monuments and buildings using our online form.

The Portable Antiquities Scheme is a national voluntary project to encourage the reporting of archaeological objects found by the public. These finds offer an important way of understanding our past, made more valuable when we know their context or provenance.  There's a network of Finds Liaison Officers (FLOs) across England and Wales -  the FLO for Berkshire  holds regular Finds Surgeries in West Berkshire Museum as well as at other locations across Berkshire.  Under the Treasure Act of 1996 there is a legal requirement to report treasure finds to the local coroner within 14 days.  FLOs can help you to identify what qualifies as treasure - there's more information available in the pdf icon Archaeological Finds Recording and Identification leaflet [602kb].

Metal detecting

Metal detecting is a popular hobby, but landowner permission should always be obtained first, and there are also categories of land where it is illegal to use a metal detector without consent. In general, metal detecting on West Berkshire Council land is not allowed, but for programmes of archaeological research, please see our pdf icon guidance note [31kb]

A code of practice for responsible metal detecting has been endorsed by several heritage organisations.





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