The Cheshire Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) project was carried out with funding from English Heritage.
The project has examined the whole of Cheshire, together with Halton, Warrington, and the Wirral. It has produced a picture of the entire landscape, including that which is most recent, and for the first time presents a comprehensive view of the sequence of changes that have contributed to the character of the landscape.
It is managed by the Archaeology Planning Advisory Service, which is part of Cheshire Shared Services, serving Cheshire West and Chester and Cheshire East.
Further information on the project and access to the maps created is available from the Historic Environment Record Officer.
Cheshire HLC Booklet (PDF, 2.40MB) – A booklet summarising the work of the Cheshire Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) project and providing general guidance for the sustainable management of historic landscapes has been produced by the Historic Environment Team.
Cheshire HLC Final Report (PDF, 4.28MB) – The HLC project’s Final Report and advice on the management of the Historic Landscape. Please note that a high speed internet connection may be required to access some of these reports.
Managing Historic Landscapes (PDF, 422KB) – A gazetteer and summary of the HLC Classification and the management recommendations made by the Cheshire Historic Landscape Characterisation Project.
Further information on characterisation, its uses and the national programme of Historic Landscape Characterisation is available from English Heritage.
Landscapes from the past to the present
The landscapes of Britain vary greatly. The natural elements of the land geology, topography and soils form the basis of any landscape, but every landscape in Britain, even those which are ‘wild’ and remote, is a product of successive human actions on the land stretching back thousands of years.
The results of these activities, such as building homes or places of work, farming the land, establishing route-ways or extracting minerals, may survive for hundreds, and in some instances, thousands of years.
It is often the case that what has gone before, whether in a town or in the countryside, will influence the present and the future.
Recording the past and managing future change
It has long been recognised that protecting and enhancing the historic environment, whether it relates to historic buildings, landscape features or archaeological remains, must be founded on a sound evidence base.
To understand any component of the historic environment it needs to be placed into a geographical and a historical context. With this aim in mind, English Heritage and local authorities have been working together to produce records of historic landscapes, in both town and country.
The Cheshire Historic Towns Survey provides information about the historical development and archaeological potential of many of the principal towns in Cheshire.
This was complemented by the Cheshire HLC project which looked at the wider landscape outside the major towns.
The HLC project has systematically recorded landscape features, which relate to a long succession of land uses, from a range of maps and aerial photographs. This information has been recorded as a series of overlays on a modern map base, using a Geographical Information System (GIS).
This computerised mapping allows areas to be analysed and described according to their historic character, and permits a variety of maps showing the different landscape types to be produced at various scales.
The comprehensive nature of HLC enables the development of a wide range of uses, such as in planning, countryside management, community projects and education.