Sir Neil Cossons will be the next chair of English Heritage. He will succeed Sir Jocelyn Stevens, whose term of appointment expires on 31 March 2000.

Culture Secretary Chris Smith said:
" Neil Cossons has been an outstanding success during his tenure as Director of the Science Museum. He has exceptional leadership skills, experience and influence in the heritage, museum and conservation fields, as well as a keen understanding of public finance and the commitment and vision in promoting public access to make him an ideal Chairman for English Heritage. I have complete confidence that he will meet the challenges inherent in the
organisation's role as the lead body for the heritage. "

Mr Smith added:

" Jocelyn Stevens became Chair in 1992. His enormous energy and dedication in attracting attention to the importance of protecting and preserving our historic environment has moved mountains. Jocelyn's accomplishments during his years at the helm have been many, and he has been instrumental in raising the profile and public awareness of English Heritage. "

Following the administrative merger of English Heritage and the Royal Commission on the Historic Monuments of England (RCHME), Sir Neil has also been appointed by The Queen as a Commissioner and (from 1 April) Chair of the RCHME until such time as the two organisations can be legally amalgamated.

Sir Jocelyn Stevens said:

"Sir Neil Cossons' appointment as Chairman is very good news for English Heritage. He has already served as a Commissioner and he is Chairman of our Industrial Archaeology Panel. His previous experience at English Heritage and his excellent work at the Science
Museum will serve him well."

Commenting on his appointment, Sir Neil Cossons said:

"It is an immense honour to be appointed Chairman of English Heritage; I am absolutely delighted. In particular, I feel very privileged to be following in the footsteps of Sir Jocelyn Stevens. His achievements at English Heritage have been prodigious. Building on them will be both a pleasurable, and not a little daunting, experience."

Biographical details

Sir Neil Cossons has worked in the museums sector since the early 1960s and as a Director since 1971. He was appointed OBE in 1982 for his pioneering work at Ironbridge, as its founding Director, and was knighted in 1994.

Sir Neil has been Director of the Science Museum since 1986 and will retire from that position next year, after the opening of the new 50 million pound Wellcome Wing.

He has broadcast and published widely in his specialist field of industrial archaeology, on which he is an international authority. He has advised numerous organisations in Britain and overseas, not least English Heritage. An English Heritage Commissioner from 1989 to 1995, Sir Neil has also served on the Ancient Monuments Advisory Committee for 14 years. He currently chairs the English Heritage Industrial Archaeology Panel. Sir Neil has not undertaken any political activity within the last five years.


1. English Heritage (formally the Historic Buildings and Monuments Commission for England) exists to secure the preservation of ancient monuments and historic buildings; to promote the preservation and enhancement of conservation areas; and to promote the public's enjoyment of ancient monuments and historic buildings. It is the Secretary of State's statutory adviser on listing and heritage matters, manages over 400 historic properties and disburses some 40 million pounds a year in conservation and archaeology grants. It is also responsible for the National Monuments Record and Survey of London.

2. Following consultation on the Departmental Spending Review, the Culture Secretary decided to create a lead body for England's historic environment by bringing together the functions of English Heritage and the RCHME. The administrative merger of both organisations took place on 1 April 1999 and will be formalised once the appropriate legislation is in place. The Commission currently consists of 14 Commissioners including the Chair.

3. Sir Neil's term as Chairman will run for a period of five years from 1 April 2000 until 31 March 2005. His level of remuneration will be 54,000 pounds per annum for a time-commitment of three days per week.

4. Sir Jocelyn Stevens has agreed to continue in his role as Chairman of the Stonehenge Executive Group which, on the Secretary of State's behalf, co-ordinates progress on the Stonehenge project, after he ceases to be Chairman of English Heritage next year.



A wide consultation begins on the first-ever comprehensive review of the nation's historic environment.
For the first time every aspect of England's historic environment is to be re-appraised in a sweeping strategic review to be spearheaded by English Heritage and in consultation with the public, the other funding bodies, local authorities and a full range of interested groups. English Heritage will consult the public via its new web-site to be launched in April.

Welcoming the letter initiating the review from Arts and Heritage Minister Alan Howarth, Sir Jocelyn Stevens, Chairman of English Heritage said today:

"This is a timely opportunity to create an entirely modern and integrated approach to managing the historic environment for the next century. 'Heritage' no longer requires to be put on the map, it is the map upon which our past and future endeavours and development are charted.
England's heritage is all around us in the archaeology beneath our feet, the streets where we live, the buildings and landscapes where we work and our forefathers worked.
Whilst Wordsworth's England 'all bright and glittering in the smokeless air' or the landscapes of John Betjeman's 'English Journey' have little resonance with today's largely urban generation our history continues to evolve and to adjust to new ideas and cultures. As always, these changes will continue to find their expression in the regeneration of their surroundings. Inevitably many of the policies and planning processes which have served us well during the 20th century - some decades old - some based on 19th century ideas - need to be developed. Above all, the increasing enjoyment and understanding of the historic environment by the public and millions of tourists means that radical ideas should be considered to
protect and sustain the heritage."

English Heritage, awarded the status of the lead body for the sector in 1998 by Culture Secretary Chris Smith, will form a steering group at first chaired by Sir Jocelyn Stevens and from April by Sir Neil Cossons his successor, which will coordinate the preparation of the report. It will include representatives of other key bodies, and the DCMS and DETR.  A
small liaison group of officials from the two Departments and English Heritage will monitor the progress of the report.

The Government has asked for the report by 22 September 2000. A new statement of policy will be issued by the end of the year.

English Heritage has proposed a number of principles and aims for consultation:
1. The future of the historic environment must be defined broadly and
holistically to include our built inheritance in the modern world.
2. Our knowledge and understanding through continuing research and data
collection must better inform more of our conservation decisions.
3. The emerging strategies must be fully integrated with all other
environmental concerns such as bio-diversity and countryside character.
4. The historic environment must allow for new architecture and modern
lifestyles, contribute to tourism and economic growth, to sustainable
development and regeneration and to promoting quality of life for
communities and individuals.
5. The task of making sure that the historic environment is more widely
appreciated and conserved is a shared one by communities new and old at
national, regional and local level.
6. The new strategy must have at least a 25-year perspective, underpinned
by shorter term goals.

Five Working Groups will be formed to discuss the following topics:
1. The condition of the historic environment.
2. Public involvement and access.
3. Tourism.
4. Planning, protection and controls.
5. Sustainability and economic and social growth.


In July 1999 The House of Commons Select Committee on Culture, Media and Sport recommended that:
" the Department for Culture, Media and Sport establish a Heritage Forum to develop a new heritage strategy. This body should be established in close co-operation with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions to ensure that integrated consideration is given to the relationship of heritage policy to urban and rural regeneration and to environmental sustainability.".
Sixth Report 26 July, Volume 1, paragraph 50.

In response to the Select Committee Report, the Government said:
"The Government fully acknowledges the need to maintain a strategic overview of the sector and respond appropriately to any new issues that may arise. Following the Comprehensive Spending Review in 1998, the Government confirmed English Heritage as the lead body for the historic environment. It therefore now proposes to ask English Heritage, within an appropriate framework, to consider current policies relating to the historic environment and to propose ways in which these might need to be further developed. The Government is not persuaded of the case for establishing a Heritage Forum, given the status of lead body accorded to English Heritage. However, it looks to English Heritage to consult widely in undertaking the assessment referred to and in particular to seek the views of other funding bodies such as the Heritage Lottery Fund and local authorities".
Sixth Report 4 November 1999, paragraph xiii

English Heritage press release 58/03/00

17 March 2000


English Heritage Launches Campaign To Protect Nationally Important Derbyshire Monument

English Heritage today announced that it has commissioned a vital  archaeological study of Nine Ladies Stone Circle in the Peak District National Park so that the rapidly deteriorating condition of this nationally important Bronze Age Stone Circle can be assessed. A local public meeting will be held to allow us to explain our proposals.

Each year around 40,000 people visit the circa 4000 year old Stone Circle which is causing a rapid increase in erosion of this fragile site. Recent soil erosion has revealed evidence of a tenth stone and today approximately 20cm is exposed. Damage has also been caused by visitors digging holes for campfires and even chipping off pieces of stone as souvenirs.

Jon Humble, English Heritage's Inspector of Ancient Monuments for the East Midlands said: "Nine Ladies Stone Circle, the most evocative and well known of the many monuments on Stanton Moor, is a site of beauty and tranquillity for visitors, from near and far, and to many who believe the Stone Circle is of special spiritual significance. It is this popularity that has significantly accelerated the processes of decay. We must act quickly if we are to protect this mysterious and ancient site for future generations.

"Rather like investigative surgery, we will examine a small sample of the site to establish the extent and condition of the archaeological remains. Great care will be taken to ensure that  intervention is kept to the minimum necessary to get the information we need. Less than 10% of the site will be opened up and the soil removed will be less than the amount lost in
the last 20 years alone as a result of erosion.

"The findings from the study will contribute to the preparation of a Conservation Plan for the Stone Circle balancing its archaeological, ecological, landscape and aesthetic needs with the needs of its visitors today and in future generations. As part of a public information campaign a guide will be based at Nine Ladies during the study to explain the work to
visitors. Interpretation panels will explain the Stones' archaeology and outline conservation guidelines which will help safeguard the monument."

A specially commissioned leaflet `Nine Ladies Stone Circle and Stanton Moor' explaining plans for the site has been sent to all local residents of the nearby villages Stanton-in-Peak, Stanton Lees and Birchover. A public meeting is being held at Stanton-in-Peak Village Hall on Monday 3 April, and will be attended by representatives from English Heritage and the Peak
District National Park Authority who manage the privately-owned site under a Local Management Agreement on behalf of English Heritage.

Rod Giddins, English Heritage's Regional Director for the East Midlands said: "It is important that we explain our plans for tackling the serious erosion of ancient site. By working closely together with all the interested parties we can protect the Stone Circle for the enjoyment of future generations."



Nine Ladies Stone Circle is part of the larger Scheduled Ancient Monument of Stanton Moor. The site is in the private ownership of the Thornhill Settlement - Stanton Estate and in the guardianship of English Heritage. Since 1995, a Local Management Agreement has been operated with the Peak District National Park Authority

The archaeological evaluation will take place in May and last for four-five weeks. The work is being carried out by Trent & Peak Archaeological Unit on behalf of English Heritage and the Peak District National Park Authority.

Entry to the monument is free and at any reasonable time

For a copy of the free leaflet `Nine Ladies Stone Circle and Stanton Moor' or further information on the public meeting, please call: 01604 730320

For further press information, please contact: Suzanne Bode, English Heritage Public Affairs  0171 973 3297