#HeritageChat is a monthly, one-hour Twitter chat for the historic environment sector. It is run on the third Tuesday of the month, 13.00-14.00, from the handle @HeritageChat and uses the tag #HeritageChat so that participants can keep track of the conversation.


Our next Heritage Chat will take place on Tuesday 15th December, 13.00-14.00 (UK time).

The topic of our next Heritage Chat is ‘Christmas & Heritage‘. Even though 2020 it’s been a challenging year, it’s time to celebrate the festive season, join us to spread some joy! Here below some ideas on what to share with us on Tuesday 15 Dec, 1-2pm: 

  • Share with #HeritageChat your local Christmas tradition.
  • Celebrate this festive period by sharing your Christmassy/wintery heritage-related pictures with #HeritageChat.
  • Are you organising any Christmas-related event/initiative? Share it with #HeritageChat!

Follow @HeritageChat and use #HeritageChat in your tweets to take part!

If you can’t take part during the live #HeritageChat, we also produce a summary so that you can catch up later. If you want to suggest a topic and/or to run a chat, please email us at HEFsteering@theheritagealliance.org.uk.

November 2020

November’s Heritage Chat was devoted to ‘Overlap between natural and cultural environment’, and was led in collaboration with Natural England. Participants lively debated some important topics such as the joined protection of historic and natural environment, the enhancement of biodiversity, opportunities for the ELMs, the sector’s contribution to tackling climate change, ‘rewilding’ issues. A full summary of the chat can be found here.

October 2020

October’s Heritage Chat was devoted to ‘Diversity and Inclusion in the Heritage Sector’, since these are cross-cutting principles of the activities carried out by the Historic Environment Forum. The Heritage Alliance helped us lead the chat, as they are working on their future report on this topic. Participants shared thoughts on the challenges faced by the heritage sector to foster inclusive practices, as well as the solutions adopted by each organisation, best practices and free resources available online. A full summary of the chat can be found here.

September 2020

The topic of September’s Heritage Chat – ‘Ways out of crisis’ – was suggested by the team of the new Rebuilding Heritage programme based at The Heritage Alliance. Participants shared thoughts and ideas to help the heritage sector during the ongoing pandemic crisis. Discussion focussed on different elements connected to the present situation, such as the main challenges for the future of the sector, future training needs, partnerships that could be built and how the sector can work better together in future. A full summary of the chat can be found here.

The Rebuilding Heritage team used some of the outcomes of Heritage Chat to build a programme better tailored to the sector’s current needs.

August 2020

August’s Heritage Chat was organised in partnership with Paul Hibberd of the LNWR George the Fifth Steam Locomotive Trust and explored replicas as a means of creating ‘living’ heritage, interpretation and understanding. Topics covered included how to define a replica in the context of heritage and how replicas add value to heritage, particularly regarding enhancing understanding of past ways of living and in helping people with different types of disabilities to engage with heritage. Discussions also focussed on what value replicas have in addition to acting as a surrogate for originals, along with how the digital age has changed the role of replicas and more presently, how the use of replicas has and will change in light of the pandemic.

A full summary of the chat can be found here.

July 2020

During the Coronavirus pandemic, training providers and educators have increasingly been adapting their teaching to an online environment. In light of this, July’s Heritage Chat provided an opportunity to explore the benefits and challenges of online teaching, as well as the implications for the heritage sector.  Participants shared new techniques and technologies that have helped them to adapt to teaching online, and there was a great deal of discussion about how online teaching can be made accessible. Others discussed the potential for teaching heritage skills online in a post-lockdown world, particularly relating to apprenticeships.

The Heritage 2020 ‘Capacity Building’ group have been discussing the impact of Covid-19 on how training is provided, initially in the context of Apprenticeships, but they used the Heritage Chat as a way of widening the discussion. For anyone looking for examples of good resources or case studies regarding online teaching, the chat provided plenty of material, and we have summarised the discussions here.

June 2020

June’s Heritage Chat explored how collaboration can be strengthened between the heritage sector, higher education institutions and community groups. Participants discussed what the key elements are for positive collaboration and what can hinder progress. They also discussed how collaboration can proceed despite a lack of funding, with an additional focus on what collaboration will look like in a post-lockdown world. Many brilliant examples of collaborative projects were shared. The Heritage 2020 Discovery, Identification and Understanding group will use these to help with their work to build a selection of case studies that provide examples of a range of collaborative projects, how to get them started, the benefits they can bring, and how to get the best out of them.

Please find a full summary of the chat here.

May 2020

The May 2020 #HeritageChat was designed in collaboration with The Heritage Alliance which is one of four partners in the Heritage Digital consortium project focused on digital skills development for the heritage sector. The chat provided the opportunity to discuss the digital skills that heritage organisations see themselves as needing to improve upon, as well as providing an opportunity to celebrate success stories. Topics discussed included digital accessibility, the most effective means for which digital skills can be used in the heritage sector, and how digital tools can be used in the classroom for heritage purposes. There was also a focus on how ‘digital’ can be used to boost heritage tourism.

Read a full summary of the discussions here.

April 2020

April’s Heritage Chat was an opportunity to build on work being done by Historic England, The Heritage Alliance and through the Historic Environment Forum and Heritage 2020 to discuss the immediate and longer-term issues that heritage sector organisations (from self-employed individuals, to large organisations) are facing due to COVID-19. Topics included how they are addressing these issues; what support exists to help the sector through this very difficult time; and where there are gaps in support. Lots of resources were shared among participants, particularly relating to funding bids and building new digital skills. Read the full summary here.

March 2020

March’s Heritage Chat was led by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists (CIfA) and explored archaeology and innovation. CIfA are currently working with the Association of Local Government Archaeology Officers on a Historic England funded project to explore innovation and how historic environment professionals can learn about and incorporate innovative practice. The aim of the project is to build sector capacity and promote innovative approaches to maximise public benefit. This #HeritageChat forms part of the project and discussed the nature of innovation, the barriers to it and how the sector can better promote innovative initiatives. 

Read a full summary here.

February 2020

February’s Heritage Chat was led by Mark Harrison, Head of Heritage Crime Strategy at Historic England and discussed all things relating to Heritage Crime. The chat began by defining what heritage crimes are and which are the most common. Conversations then moved to discussing the ways in which stronger community engagement with historic sites and strategic partnerships could be used to reduce rates of heritage crime. Excellent examples were shared of initiatives that are already in place. Discussions towards the end of the chat focused on whether sentencing for heritage crimes is appropriate and whether the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) is used to repay the public heritage debt from the criminal loss of heritage assets. Throughout the chat contributors shared excellent guidance on preventing and reporting heritage crime. Read a full summary here.

January 2020

January’s #HeritageChat explored the relationship between the heritage sector and the creative industries and discussions built upon the Heritage Alliance’s recent publication of their report Inspiring Creativity, Heritage and the Creative Industries. Participants shared examples of successful partnerships that led to wider audience engagement and improved accessibility to heritage sites and stories. Also, discussed were the skills and approaches needed for such partnerships and the challenges that might present themselves. You can read a full summary of the chat here.

December 2019

December’s Heritage Chat provided an opportunity for various organisations and individuals working in the heritage sector to share what they achieved in 2019 and what they hope to achieve in 2020. Participants were asked to share examples of work they carried out that related to heritage2020 priority areas including:

  • Heritage and the High Street
  • Historic Environment Sector Apprenticeships
  • Local Planning Authority Capacity for conservation and archaeology services
  • Transfer of heritage assets from public ownership
  • Improving diversity and inclusion practice
  • Charging the culture of youth and heritage engagement
  • Strengthening research collaboration between the high education and historic environment sectors

Participants were then asked to share anything more broadly that they were proud of. The summary of the chat shows just how much wonderful work took place in the sector in 2019. Read it here.

November 2019

November’s #HeritageChat explored how the growth of citizen heritage science projects can be improved. In particular, discussions focused on what types of citizen science projects are particularly effective in engaging people with heritage and provided an opportunity for people and organisations who have experience in organising such projects, to provide tips to others looking to do so. Advice was offered on determining audiences, the best methods of collecting data and the pitfalls to look out for. Existing guidance on running a citizen science project was also shared.  You can read a full summary of the discussions here.

October 2019

October’s #HeritageChat explored why the 16-24-year-old age group are underrepresented in terms of engagement with heritage, which is currently a key focus of the H2020 Public Engagement working group.  Both the 2017/18 and 2018/19 DCMS ‘Taking Part’ Surveys revealed that this age group visited heritage sites less frequently than other age groups between 25 and 74. In light of this, the working group want to ensure a greater emphasis is placed on involving young people in all aspects of work in heritage and the historic environment. To do this, they used the chat as an opportunity to learn about the work that is already happening and source ideas from heritage professionals and students about what could be improved.

Discussion points during the hour included whether the statistics reflect the everyday experience in the sector, what problems there are that impact upon a ‘heritage offer’ for 16-24-year olds, and whether low engagement could also be caused by perceptions of heritage among the age group. Participants also shared what has worked and been popular in their experience and ideas of what could increase engagement in the future.

You can catch up on all the conversations that took place here.

September 2019

September’s #HeritageChat followed on from our previous chat in June about Historic High Streets and the future role they will play in society. This time the Constructive, Conservation and Sustainable Management working group chose to discuss what non-funding support could help local authorities and communities to regenerate their historic high streets. Participants looked at what role national organisations could play in this and what skills gaps there are that inhibit progress. Throughout the chat, excellent examples were shared of communities coming together to support their local high streets. You can read a full summary here.

July 2019

July’s #HeritageChat provided an opportunity for us to gather feedback on our newly published scoping study into the nature and strength of collaboration between the heritage sector and UK higher education institutions. We asked participants to respond to our findings but also share their experiences of university collaboration in relation to the historic environment. Additionally, we asked people how they think such collaboration can be improved for the future and what resources are currently available to aid the process. You can catch up on the discussion here.

June 2019

June’s #HeritageChat explored all things ‘Heritage and the High street’. Participants discussed the future role high streets will play in society and how they can be best used now. Also discussed was the information that is currently available for communities wishing to get more involved in the future of their high streets and what is missing in this regard. A popular talking point was Historic England’s newly announced High Streets Heritage Action Zone programme and how its funding should be targeted to maximise impact. You can catch up on all the discussions in our summary here. 

The future of our high streets is a priority concern for our Constructive Conservation and Sustainable Management working group. Click here to read about all the work they have been doing on this topic, including creating an activity mapping document.

May 2019

May’s #HeritageChat explored ‘emergency preparedness in the historic environment sector’, a theme that has been discussed frequently in the media following the tragic fire at Notre Dame. The chat provided participants the chance to explore lessons for the future and share with each other their wisdom and experience. Questions explored included: how historic buildings can plan to effectively respond to an emergency; what guidance and networks exist to help with this process; and what we need to think about in terms of managing communications during and after an incident. You can catch up on the ideas that were explored here.

April 2019

The April #HeritageChat was led by  the CIfA Voluntary and Community Special Interest Group and explored how the legacies of archaeological community engagement in place making can be improved. Discussions focused on what exactly is meant by ‘place making’ in this context and what it means to communities in practice. Also explored was the role archaeology can play in influencing the design of new places before construction, and particularly, in consideration of health and well-being. Catch up on all the discussions here.

The topic will be explored in further detail at a session of the CIfA 2019 conference where comments made during the chat will also be discussed. 

March 2019

Our March #HeritageChat explored all things technology and innovation in the historic environment sector. Participants discussed how technology is shaping research in the sector and what opportunities new technologies present for public engagement. There was also a focus on the digital skills that need to be developed in the sector and how the sector can work together to deliver the goals of ‘Culture is Digital’.

Read an extended summary of the chat here.

February 2019

Our February #HeritageChat explored how heritage professionals can encourage communities to share their heritage with them and what communities want most from the heritage sector.  Also discussed were approaches to strengthening links between heritage organisations and community groups, and particularly with social groups who do not normally access heritage. The role technology can play in initiating and developing these relationships was also a prominent theme in the chat.

Read a summary of February’s chat here.

January 2019

Our January #HeritageChat explored how infrastructure projects can be used to connect communities with place. Discussions focused on  when there is greatest potential for engaging communities, how communities can take a leading role in interpretation and be involved in post-excavation research, and what problems ‘client confidentiality’ poses to community engagement. Read the summary here

December 2018

Our December #HeritageChat explored how the impact of collaborative working can be maximised in the historic environment. Discussions focused on the benefits of collaboration, what the key attributes are of successful collaboration, and what the common challenges are in the historic environment when trying to work together. Attention also turned to how we can effectively measure the impact of collaboration and whether there is a model or framework for collaboration that the sector should encourage people to use. Read the summary here.

November 2018

Our November #HeritageChat provided a forum to discuss the Historic Environment sector’s relationship with health and wellbeing. Participants explored in what ways the sector can help to address health and wellbeing issues, how we can make the public more aware of the benefits of actively engaging with heritage, and how we can ensure communities throughout the UK have equal access to programmes. It was concluded that as a sector we need to embed wellbeing into institutional thinking, and, in the final stages of the chat, attention was drawn to the need to have meaningful evaluation frameworks to measure the impact of heritage activities on general wellbeing. Read the summary here.

October 2018

Our October #HeritageChat was on the topic of apprenticeships in the Historic Environment. Topics discussed included how employers should approach recruitment, how apprenticeships can help the sector and examples of good practice. The chat also provided a forum for individuals and organisation to learn about and share their understanding of the new government guidelines on apprenticeships. Read the summary here. 

September 2018

Our September #HeritageChat explored mobile heritage. Participants identified the issues that pose the greatest risk to keeping historic transport mobile, including new legislation, access to fuel and a potential shortage in skills, before going on to suggest ways of addressing them. Also raised as talking points were ways of increasing collaboration between heritage institutions and the owners of historic transport, the separation of horse drawn transport from conversations about mobile heritage, and finally, the conundrum of fabric vs operation within mobile heritage. Read the summary here.

July 2018

Our July #HeritageChat provided a forum for institutions and individuals to share lessons learnt from their own past experiences about what encourages young people to engage with heritage.  Greater collaboration with the creative industries, the adoption of a shared authority approach and the role of interactive technologies were all raised as talking points. Moreover, lessons to be learnt from social action programmes and natural heritage were discussed, as well as where and when conversations between heritage institutions and young people should be happening. Read the summary here. 

June 2018

Our June #HeritageChat explored new uses for historic buildings. Topics discussed included the need to maintain historic value whilst embracing any new uses, how best to communicate the positives of re-using historic buildings and related funding issues. Also explored was the potential to encourage new uses for historic buildings by embracing the government’s current focus on ‘place’.  Read the summary here.

May 2018

Our May #HeritageChat explored how best to improve links between research and practice and was led by the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists with support from the Heritage 2020 Discovery, Identification and Understanding group. Conversation touched on organisational research agendas, cross-sector research and resources, and innovative models that could be introduced by universities to support the research pursuits of heritage professionals/volunteers. Read the summary here. 

April 2018

Our April #HeritageChat picked up the theme that Heritage 2020 working group members discussed at their annual Foresight workshop: ‘What’s over the digital horizon for heritage?’. We tweeted about how digital technology can be used to stimulate engagement with new audiences, how we can use technology and data to better understand audience needs, what new digital skills the sector needs and what the opportunities are for the historic environment sector to forge partnerships with tech organisations. Read the summary.

March 2018

In March, #HeritageChat explore Industrial Heritage – led by Dr Nicola Palmer from the Doctoral School of Sheffield Hallam University. The conversation touched on questions of sustainable management and reliance on volunteers, alternative modes of engagement with industrial heritage (from urban exploration to steampunk), and existing and potential future collaborations between industrial heritage sites and industrial bodies. Participants discussed the impact of such initiatives as the Brownfield Registers for unidentified industrial heritage, Industrial World Heritage status and the opportunities arising from the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage. See the summary here.

February 2018

February’s #HeritageChat picked up on the topic explored a year ago at the Heritage 2020 Foresight workshop ‘Diversity in the historic environment sector’. Last year’s workshop concluded that there are three key areas in which action is needed to address diversity issues: data, process and perception. You can read the report on the workshop here.

The questions that were used as prompts during the chat were:

  1. Is the issue of class overlooked in conversations about diversity in heritage?
  2. How can we best enable those from working class backgrounds to participate equally in a sector dominated by part-time and casual contracts?
  3. Does the intersection between class and ethnicity in part explain the underrepresentation of BME in heritage?
  4. How can targets be used effectively to drive improvements in diversity?
  5. Does the historic environment sector need a self-assessment process to enable an organisation to evaluate its performance – and a toolkit to address areas for development?
  6. Where are there examples of innovative practice in improving diversity that could be shared with the historic environment sector?

A summary of the #HeritageChat is now available on our arhive page: Diversity in the heritage sector

This session was led by Heritage 2020 tweeting as (@HeritageChat) and The Heritage Alliance (@heritage_ngos).

January 2018

If you missed January’s #HeritageChat on the topic ‘Evaluation: How can the heritage sector better share evaluation data and create a shared evidence base?’, you can catch up by viewing our summary on our archive page. The chat was led by ERS Research & Consultancy alongside Heritage 2020.

December 2017

You can also catch up on December’s #HeritageChat on the topic ‘Heritage and high streets – which way next?’ by viewing our summary. The chat was led by Heritage 2020 and tied into the Constructive Conservation and Sustainable Management group‘s work on high streets and recent workshop held on the 6 December 2017.

November 2017

The first session was held on 16 November 2017 on the topic of ‘Innovation and entrepreneurship in the heritage sector – are we doing enough?’ and was led by the Historic Houses Association. It is archived on our website.

Why #HeritageChat?

#HeritageChat came about as a means of widening Heritage2020’s consultation process. The original vision for taking forward Heritage2020 included an annual consultation on the Heritage2020 Framework and the evolving strategic priorities, to take place in the autumn of each year, and to link to the annual progress report. The HEF subcommittee wished to increase the opportunities for the historic environment sector to contribute directly to the Heritage2020 action areas. Thus, #HeritageChat was born.

How does it work?

#HeritageChat is run by different people and organisations from the heritage sector, on a rolling monthly basis. One in four are run by Heritage2020; the rest are hosted by other areas of the sector.

The theme is selected by that month’s host. These ideally relate to one of the Heritage2020 priority areas:

  • Capacity Building
  • Constructive Conservation and Sustainable Management
  • Discovery, Identification and Understanding
  • Helping Things to Happen
  • Public Engagement

All topics should seek to strengthen partnerships and collaborative working in the historic environment sector.

The host puts out an open call for questions a couple of weeks in advance of the scheduled #HeritageChat, and selects around six questions for use in the session. The questions are published as the programme for the chat session a few days before the chat itself.

During the chat, the organiser tweets the questions from @HeritageChat using a format that allows participants to respond to each question. Questions, answers and discussion are all tagged #HeritageChat during the conversation so everyone can follow the thread. The chat is recorded via Tweetdeck, linked through the #HeritageChat – Archive page.

What will a #HeritageChat achieve?
  • We want to connect Heritage2020 with historic environment sector organisations more widely than through the current working groups, HEF and news outputs.
  • We want to provide specific opportunities for the sector to contribute to Heritage 2020 action areas.
  • We want to strengthen Heritage 2020 working by benefitting from the wider sector’s ideas and enthusiasm.
  • We want to start to develop a Heritage 2020 network through which the sector can build and share the benefits of collaborative working.

You can see how other Twitter chats run at #uklibchat, #museumhour, or how a session can be used to bring together contributions on a theme #wildflowerhour.

#HeritageChat Archives
Each month #HeritageChat will be archived on the Heritage2020 website.

To view the #HeritageChat archive, click here.