HEIR: Historic Environment Image Resource


HEIR unlocks the research potential of old photographs dating from the late 19th century onwards. Our passion is to rescue forgotten photographic archives and bring them back into use. We are doing this by:

  • keywording and identifying old photos of archaeological digs, monuments, landscapes and environments from around the world
  • re-photographing them in their modern settings to help identify patterns of change over time.


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Pompeii 1933 (photographer: Beatrice Blackwood) and 2013 (photo: Charlotte Robinson)

HEIR‘s online database is world-wide accessible, interdisciplinary photographic research resource which will provide a greater understanding of all aspects of society and the environment in disciplines as varied as anthropology, archaeology, art history, economics, geography, geology, heritage conservation, history, politics, and tourismIt is also a fascinating picture archive in its own right. We’re digitizing, in most cases for the first time, amazing photographs which haven’t been accessible to the public before. We hope you enjoy looking at them and helping researchers use them.

‘I am completely inspired by HEIR project and I consider it very useful and helpful not only as an archive but as an alive way to “consume” heritage’


How can you help? Tag our images and share in the excitement of discovery by taking a tagging journey with us on heirtagger!



We want to find out what has happened to the places pictured in our historic environment photographifiles/institute/Image Five.pngc collection. How have they changed over time? Have buildings been restored, damaged or destroyed? How have the landscapes around them changed? Help us by re-photographing them in their modern settings using our free mobile app.

‘ I really liked the community-encouraging features like the “featured tagger” and the discussions with the team’s friendly replies.’

Your tags and photos will help to build a unique interdisciplinary picture library supplying information on changing monuments, landscapes, and environments. It will allow researchers and the public to look at and study the impact of time, nature, people – and to have a conversation about the future.


Project Collaborators

Institute of Archaeology, Oxford, UK: Professor Chris Gosden, Dr Sally Crawford, Dr Katharina Ulmschneider, Dr Janice Kinory

The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK: Dr Alison Roberts

The Beazley Archive, Oxford, UK: Dr Peter Stewart

The Bodleian Library, Oxford, UK: Dr Christine Madsen

Department of Art History, The University of Chicago, U.S.A.: Dr Jas Elsner

The Citizen Science Alliance, Oxford, UK and Chicago, U.S.A.: Dr Chris Lintott

Department of Geography, Oxford, UK: Professor Heather Viles, Ms Sue Bird

Visual Resources Centre, Department of the History of Art, Oxford, UK: Professor Craig Clunas, Dr Victoria Brown


With special thanks to project advisors

Angela T. Spinazzè at Atspin: http://www.atspin.com

Fiona Marshall, Freelance consultant: http://fionamarshall.co.uk

Photographic Collections in the HEIR archive

The Ashmolean Museum

The Institute of Archaeology, Oxford

Harris Manchester College, Oxford

History of Art Department, Oxford

Plant Science Collections, Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford

Geography Collection, Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford

Matthew Jellings collection

Richard Logan collection


Do you have old photographs relating to archaeology, landscape, travel and society which you think would add to our research on heritage and environmental change? Contact us at heir@arch.ox.ac.uk to talk about sharing with HEIR.

The Oxford CSA web platform offers partners to enhance the teaching and research value of any digitized collections by

  • broadening keyword classifications of datasets for efficient, interdisciplinary data-mining
  • creating comparative modern landscape and monument re-photographs
  • disseminating knowledge of their resource
  • contributing to a world-wide resource-sharing initiative
  • helping to generate new collaborative research projects

Please contact the project directors:

Dr Sally Crawford F.S.A.Senior Research Fellow

The Institute of Archaeology

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Dr Katharina Ulmschneider F.S.A.Senior Research Fellow

The Institute of Archaeology

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Supported by

The Reva and David Logan Foundation, Chicago

The Citizen Science Alliance, Oxford-Chicago

The John Fell OUP Research Fund, Oxford

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