Historic Environment Record

The Historic Environment Record (HER) is the primary source of information for archaeology and historic sites within the city of Portsmouth.

The HER database includes details of archaeological sites, finds and historic buildings that date from the Prehistoric period to the present day. The database is linked to a series of digital maps marking the location of sites recorded. There is also an archive of excavation reports, slides, photographs, research files and journals, which are held within the museum archaeology collection.

13th century glazed jug Oyster Street excavations, Old Portsmouth

The database has been compiled using a variety of sources, such as archaeological reports, publications, historic documents and maps.

It includes:

  • Stray finds (e.g. objects found in the garden or on the beach)
  • Archaeological sites and investigations
  • Scheduled Monuments & Listed Buildings
  • Buildings recorded on The City of Portsmouth Local List of Buildings
  • Non-listed buildings
  • Parks and gardens
  • Monuments and memorials
  • Historic sites known from documentary sources

Although the HER contains records of national designations, Historic England should be contacted for all enquiries regarding accurate Scheduled Monument and Listing information. Further details can be found on the National Heritage List for England.

Archaeological site archives and artefacts are held within the museum archaeology collection.


HER data is primarily used to inform planning decisions and is consulted by planners, developers and archaeologists working on a variety of projects, including housing and coastal defence.

Wessex Archaeology excavations at Governor’s Green 2009

The HER is also an invaluable tool for anyone interested in the archaeology or historic environment of the city, whether for academic research or personal interest.

Searching and access

The HER database cannot be accessed online or in person, but enquiries may be sent to the HER Assistant (email).

The HER database can be searched by a defined geographical area or by period or type of record. Data is usually supplied as PDF files for text records with associated GIS mapping files. PDF copies of maps can also be supplied to those without access to GIS. Anyone wishing to receive copies of HER data must agree to the terms and conditions and sign a data licence agreement.

The Square Tower, built c1494

There is currently no charge for non-commercial enquiries (e.g. students or members of the public carrying out personal research), unless the enquiry is particularly complicated or time consuming.

Commercial searches are currently charged at a rate of £60 plus VAT for the first hour and £30 plus VAT for each additional half hour, with a minimum fee per enquiry of £60 plus VAT. The search charge is to cover staff time.

Arrangements can be made for reports, publications and photographs held within the museum archaeology collection to be viewed at the Portsmouth History Centre in Portsmouth Central Library. Please send us an email if you wish to view any of these items.