Sandstone Structures Visual Audit
Written by: Carol Carter
The project aimed to capture a visual record of the sandstone structures within Greensand Country that would complement the 2015 Sandstone Structure Audit. Volunteers captured the images to give additional detail to a template that gave location, condition, and construction information on the structures.
The project has given us a visual record of the condition of sandstone structures across Greensand Country (as of 2021/2022). We are most proud that we have been able to access and record structures that do not have easy public access (such as structures on the Southill Estate and Chicksands Priory).
Benefits to People
Involving a number of different volunteer groups has allowed a wider community engagement with the project. The volunteers were both individuals and from volunteer groups. The project allowed them to explore Greensand Country and gain access to areas that are not normally within public rights of way (permission with landowners was sought at all times). These volunteer groups had not been engaged with Greensand Country before, so the project allowed us to recruit and interact with new volunteers.
Benefits to Heritage & Landscape
The heritage of Greensand Country is better recorded, with a visual record of the structures and their condition. Depositing the audit at the Bedfordshire Archives will mean that this record will be more accessible long-term. Involving volunteers has also reinforced Greensand Country’s Sense of Place, as they have highlighted the prominence of sandstone structures within the area.
Whilst there are no physical benefits to the landscape, the project has meant that the landscape character is better understood. This will hopefully reduce erosion of the key characteristics of the landscape, such as sandstone walls and buildings.
Challenges & Lessons Learnt
The biggest challenge was access to sites such as Chicksands Priory and the Southill Estate. Whilst we did manage to get the photographs and the staff at both were very helpful, the time taken to gain these permissions did delay the project.
If we were to complete the project again, it would be useful to have a number of brief informal training sessions at the start to familiarise the volunteers with the project’s requirements. This could have avoided sub-standard photograph quality that did require additional time input from the project manager to rectify