The North West Archaeological Research Framework
The North West Regional Research Framework was initiated originally by English Heritage (now Historic England) in the late 1990s as it became increasingly clear that greater emphasis needed to be placed on research within modern archaeology. It was recommended that Research Frameworks were created for each of the regions of England to provide a context and common focus for the burgeoning amount of archaeological work that was being carried out within the planning system.
Work on developing the Research Framework for the North West (covering the modern counties and metropolitan boroughs of Cheshire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside) started with a conference held in Lancaster in 2001, and began as a full-time project in August 2003. It was completed in May 2007, and provided an overview of current archaeological knowledge, where the most significant gaps are, and how they may best be addressed. The results were published in two volumes: the Resource Assessment and the Research Agenda and Strategy.
A huge number of projects have been carried out since the original Research Framework was published in 2006 and 2007. The contribution that this work made to a wider understanding and appreciation of the archaeology of the North West, coupled with changes in the way the resource is managed and the advancement of new analytical techniques, led to Historic England funding GMAAS to facilitate an update of the Research Framework. This updated version, referred to as the North West Regional Research Framework for the Historic Environment (named to reflect a greater engagement with the historic built environment), was launched online in 2021 and has been transformed into an interactive, updatable and sustainable web-based resource. The Updated Research Framework, together with the original volumes published in 2006 and 2007, can be accessed at https://researchframeworks.org/nwrf/