Towards a Collaborative Strategy for sector information management (TACOS)

On 14 May 2014 the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) hosted a one-day seminar on behalf of FISH and HEIRNET at the University of York to discuss common issues faced by the historic environment information sector and progress towards a shared vision and agenda for historic environment information management.

The key aims of the seminar were to:

  • Encourage discussion between different groups that produce and manage historic environment information from across the sector (professional, research and voluntary to identify common goals and issues.
  • Develop information sharing networks and working partnerships across the sector to pool resources particularly in the areas of skills development and application of information technology.


Towards a collaborative strategy for sector information management, or TACOS, will build upon a ‘show and tell’ event (the NACHOS seminar) held at the British Museum in November 2012, which identified the need for integration of information sources in support of the National Heritage Protection Plan (NHPP).

The seminar investigated current historic environment information management practices and identified areas for improvement by cross-sector collaboration through three overarching themes of:

  • Use of information and reuse of data (e.g. ‘Big Data’ projects reusing historic environment information/datasets, the role of information standards, the integration of different types of historic environment information built heritage information)
  • Skills development (e.g. skill gaps in professional practice)
  • Use of new information systems and technology (e.g. access to information and technology, how skills development and training is accessed – potential barriers)

Download the seminar timetable and discussion points.


The one-day seminar brought together a diverse group of representatives from across the sector in 'world café style' discussion sessions. Delegates rotated between tables to encourage new dialogue between individuals who represented different areas of the sector. Each session started with three keynote speakers introducing different topics within the main theme followed by breakout sessions to discuss key issues and look at potential solutions.

A parallel 'virtual' seminar was held alongside the York seminar to encourage remote participation.


Unfortunately the Storify is no longer available, we are investigating a workable alternative and will reupload as soon as we can.


The seminar comprised three discussion sessions that buillt upon themes highlighted in the keynotes from speakers with each session focusing on three central questions. In addition, there was one overarching question for each session that was put to delegates. Responses to these questions were posted on screens during breakout sessions to encourage further discussion around issues raised.

Introduction to TACOS from Gill Grayson - Convenor of FISH & HEIRNET, Head of Heritage Data Management at English Heritage

Session 1: Introduced by Martin Newman (IMSIG, English Heritage)

Session 1: Users & Reusers

‘Big Data’ historic environment projects

Prof. Chris Gosden, EngLaId Project, University of Oxford

Tomorrow’s standards together

Kirsty Lingstadt & Peter McKeague, RCAHMS

Linking datasets with archives

Victoria Bryant, Archive & Archaeology Service Manager, The Hive

Session 1: Breakout discussion

  • What data re-use projects have been fantastic examples of good practice?
  • How could lessons from these be applied to other projects?
  • What are the main barriers to accessing and re-using data?

Session 2: Skills Development

11.35 – 13.15 Introduced by Edmund Lee (English Heritage)

Information management skills gaps

Kenneth Aitchison, Landward Research Ltd.

Skills development in higher education

Unfortunately speaker Julian Richards was unable to attend the seminar. The change to the timetable enabled more time for questions and answers from the York delegates as well as virtual participants.

Professional skills training

Edmund Lee

Questions to speakers
Session 2: Breakout Discussion

  • How did you get your information management skills?
  • Where will the next generation of heritage information managers come from?
  • Who should be responsible for developing information management skills within the sector?

Session 3: Information Systems & Technology

14.15 – 15.45 Introduced by Keith May (English Heritage)

Linked Data & heritage vocabularies

Ceri Binding, Hypermedia Research Unit, University of South Wales

Geosemantic technologies

Paul Cripps, Hypermedia Research Unit, University of South Wales

The Portable Antiquities Scheme

Dan Pett, Portable Antiquities ICT Advisor

Questions to speakers
Session 3: Breakout discussion

  • What are the challenges of implementing in practice the results of research and development work?
  • How do we show value in these new technologies to funders and decision makers?
  • What is your experience of introducing new technologies within your organisation – what worked/did not work?

Moving forward & close - Mike Heyworth, CBA Director

Get involved with ongoing discussions

The discussion points are only the start to get you thinking about the issues that are important to you! Send your thoughts on how we can progress a collaborative strategy by emailing tacos [at] or by Tweeting using #TACOS2014 #HistEnviron.

TACOS Report

Proceedings from the event, including issues raised during discussion sessions, virtual participation via social media and formal feedback, was compiled into a report to be produced by the CBA. The report was open for consultation in 2014 and suggested ways forward that would help develop a common research agenda and strategy for UK historic environment information management. The report is available to view here: