Farmers are the principal stewards of our rural heritage. Together, farmers in England own well over half a million traditional buildings (including some 60,000 listed structures), thousands of miles of traditional boundaries, countless historic features and the great majority of archaeological sites. Farmers are of central importance in managing the historic landscape.
However, the pressures on the historic character of today’s countryside are greater than ever before. As agriculture has intensified and restructured, many historic sites in the countryside have been damaged or destroyed. Traditional farm buildings, historic field boundaries and ancient field patterns have become less relevant to modern farming operations. Many have been lost or neglected and distinctive features, such as parkland and field trees, are in decline. Arable cultivation is causing particular damage: the increasing power of farm machinery and more intensive tillage practices mean that archaeological sites that have survived for many centuries can be destroyed in only a few short hours.
With sound advice, Farmers can play a vital role in ensuring our historic places are passed down to future generations. A series of guidance documents is available from the English Heritage website to provide advice on farming historic landscapes.