The South East Research Framework (SERF) for the historic environment is a regional and partnership project aimed at getting a clear understanding of what we actually know about the past in East Sussex, Kent, Surrey and West Sussex. From this it will be possible to focus on what we would like to know, and therefore suggest new directions for future research. The project covers all periods in the region from the Lower Palaeolithic until the 20th century, and also includes thematic approaches, like the study of Historic Landscapes. All four county councils are involved, as well as local and county societies, universities, archaeological units and, of course, CBA South East.
So far the project has included a series of public seminars at the Institute of Archaeology in London, which took place in 2007-8, and a conference hosted by the University of Kent at Medway in April 2008. Contributors are currently producing a SERF Resource Assessment and Research Agenda volume, which is entering the editorial stage. This publication will include both an assessment of our current knowledge and an agenda highlighting areas where that knowledge might be improved, and will be available as hard copy and on-line.
The final phase of the project, when we begin to map out our Research Strategy, is in fact the start of an ongoing process. The Research Framework will be constantly revisited and updated in the coming years in line with new information and ideas.
Progress report as at October 2012 (from Lis Dyson, Kent County Council):
I am pleased to say that we have made good progress with the South East Historic Environment Research Framework in the last few months. Consultation drafts of the Medieval, Defence and Urban Landscapes Resource Assessment and Research Agenda chapters have been completed and can be viewed online via the link at the foot of the page.
The other chapters are at various stages of completion, but the most advanced are: Anglo-Saxon, Post-medieval/Industry, Upper Palaeolithic/Mesolithic and Middle Bronze Age/Iron Age and Roman and Maritime.
It will be possible for people to make initial comments on the consultation drafts via the KCC Heritage Conservation mailbox (firstname.lastname@example.org) but we will wait to undertake a more formal consultation later when additional chapters are available.
To read more about SERF, follow on-line publication and contribute to the Research Framework for the South East, go to
and watch this space too!