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Lecture Report – Historic Environment Image Resource (HEIR) project

Dr Janice Kinory, of the Historic Environment Image Resource (HEIR) project, spoke to the Henley Archaeological & Historical Group on 3 May in the Kings Arms Barn. HEIR is a project in Oxford University’s School of Archaeology. Its collection comprises some 35000+ photographic images, including lantern slides, glass negatives and 35mm slides, held by different parts of the University.

HEIR’s subject range is very wide – besides buildings and monuments, the images include landscapes, people and plants. As the images can date from as early as the mid-19th century, the archive can provide a valuable record of how sites change over time. For example, there is a photograph of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Paris (pictured) before its (second) spire was installed in the mid-19th century – and lost recently. It also includes images of sites which no longer exist, such as the Temple of Baal in Palmyra, deliberately destroyed by ISIS.

Besides their intended subject, many images contain a record of lost aspects of social history. Apart from means of transport and styles of clothing, they reveal changed attitudes, such as an image of laundry drying outside the Temple of Vesta in Rome!