Historic environment

Historic environment

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Shaped by people, over thousands of years

Historic sites, including ancient standing stones, ruins, country houses and castles, are an important part of what makes our National Parks so special. These living, working landscapes have influenced identity, inspired writers, poets and artists and contributed significantly to the nation’s rich cultural legacy.

Special qualities

History and culture

Our Parks contain some of the earliest and most extensive evidence of human ingenuity, endeavour and creativity – from stone tools, left by hunter-gatherers at the end of the last Ice Age, to some of the finest Bronze Age landscapes in Western Europe.

National Parks also protect some of the best-preserved Roman military structures, castles and forests of medieval monarchs, beautiful 18th century designed landscapes, and historic mines and quarries, some of which are still in use today.

Moreover, National Parks protect rich and distinctive architecture, with buildings, farmsteads and villages constructed from local materials such as stone, slate, pantile and thatch that create a unique sense of place and identity.

These physical remains form the story of England, Scotland and Wales and are all key factors in attracting investment and tourism.

Planning and Conservation

We keep detailed records of all sites and visit them regularly to see what state they are in, working with landowners and partners to protect any vulnerable sites. We train people in traditional building techniques to maintain historic structures, and our archaeologists carry out digs and surveys to explore new and existing sites.

When new building work is proposed in a National Park, our archaeologists often take the chance to do a dig to see if any new remains are found. Our planners also ensure that future developments within National Park boundaries are not detrimental to the historic environment and are in keeping with the heritage of the area.


We work with lots of different organisations to protect our historic sites, as well as private landowners. We’ve secured millions of pounds from the Heritage Lottery Fund and charitable trusts and we provide apprenticeships, training, education, health and recreational opportunities, helping local economies thrive.


We want everyone who visits or lives in a National Park to be able to enjoy our history. We work with landowners to allow the public access to historical sites, we give guided walks and talks and produce signs, leaflets and publications to tell the stories of local people.


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