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What a heritage asset is

Evidence of past communities and individuals who have left their mark on the Dorset landscape surrounds us every day. Collectively, this is known as the historic environment. These human interventions have shaped the places we visit, live and work in. It is a process that has been ongoing for thousands of years, building layer upon layer as the centuries have passed. While there are shared themes across the country in terms of technological development, changing fashions, and economic, political, religious and cultural influences, these have had different effects in different places depending on the people involved. It is these unique human responses to the situations and physical environment they found themselves in that makes each place distinct from every other.

The historic environment is made up of individual features, each of which provides its own insight into past lives. These features can take many forms:

  • buildings
  • street patterns
  • field boundaries
  • cemeteries
  • street furniture
  • public parks
  • earthworks
  • artwork

These historic structures, monuments and spaces are known as heritage assets. We may not always consciously notice them, but their familiarity to us – or, indeed, their peculiarity – is the cornerstone of local identity and distinctiveness.

Further guidance on the different types of heritage assets that can be nominated for inclusion on the local list can be found on the 'type of heritage assets' webpage.


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