Historic Landscape Characterisation

The Historic Landscape Characterisation (HLC) map of Suffolk was compiled in 1998-99 as the first part of a wider East of England HLC Project covering Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk. The work was undertaken by the Suffolk County Council Archaeological Service and funded by English Heritage. The project characterised the historic landscape of Suffolk though the identification and mapping of a range of defined Historic Landscape Types. These bring together modern landuse with historic landscape information, giving a ‘time-depth’ dimension to the landscape. The map provides a new way of understanding and managing the historic landscapes, particularly for development strategies and agri-environment schemes. It is also a useful analytical tool to investigate and enhance the county Historic Environment Record data and historic landscape studies. The map is not static, but is constantly being enhanced and corrected. The version shown is coloured to bring out the contrast between areas with late-enclosed landscapes (18th and 19th centuries; coloured yellow) and early-enclosed landscapes (pre-18th century, probably medieval or earlier; coloured red); the grey colours indicate areas with considerable 20th-century landscape change.

The initial Suffolk map was created 1998-99 by Matthew Ford, the map was then edited by Edward Martin of the Archaeological Service to produce Version 1 in 2001, Version 1a in 2002, Version 2 in 2005, and Version 3 in 2008.

The map exists as a computer-based Geographic Information System (GIS) map table in MapInfo format, but can also be supplied in MapInfo Interchange Format for import into other GIS formats. Click here to download a PDF of the HLC map and its colour-coded key. Further details of character types used in the map can be found here and as a pdf here.

For further and detailed discussion of the Suffolk historic landscape character types in the wider context of the historic landscape of East Anglia see:

E. Martin and M. Satchell. 2008. Wheare most Inclosures be. East Anglian Fields: History, Morphology and Management. East Anglian Archaeology 124.

Click here to read further information about HLC at a national level on Historic Environment Local Management (HELM) website.

Click here to read further information about HLC on the English Heritage website.

The Suffolk Historic Landscape Characterisation results have also contributed to the Suffolk Landscape Character Assessment, to the Stour Valley Historic Landscape Study and to the East of England Landscape Typology, along with several other projects.

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