Natural England launches peatland ‘toolbox talk’ on recognising archaeology during restoration

April 17, 2023

Natural England, the public body that helps people care for, enjoy and celebrate England's spectacular landscapes, has created a peatland ‘toolbox talk’, aimed at peatland restoration contractors, which highlights the significance of preservation of the historic landscape in the restoration process.

As well as practical steps that can be taken by a contractor when encountering an unexpected archaeological find on a site of restoration, the film examines the variety of objects that can be found on a peatland site, and the ways in which they can be managed and conserved as part of the process of protecting these iconic habitats.


Restoration Risley Moss. Photo credit: Paul Thomas


Guidance on peatland restoration and the historic environment

Natural England and Historic England jointly provide a wealth of guidance in written format on peatlands and the historic environment in England, which can be found here. Recently, Natural England identified a need for practical and accessible resources for contractors and project teams working in peatland restoration throughout the UK.

Kat Hopwood-Lewis, Historic Environment Senior Adviser on the Natural England Peatland Team was inspired by conversations with peatland contractors at the IUCN UK Peatland Programme’s 2022 conference in Aberystwyth, where they shared their thoughts on how they accessed and utilised advice to inform the development of their projects. 

The ‘toolbox talk’ takes its inspiration from the Scottish Peatland ACTION Project, a leader in the production of peatland restoration resources for diverse audiences, and was funded by Natural England’s internal ‘All Staff Ideas Fund’ (ASIF), which is designed to allow staff to invest in innovative ideas and projects.



Partnership and support

Natural England engaged Wessex Archaeology from among several archaeological filmmakers to help Kat and her team develop the content of the video.  With their on-staff palaeoecologist, film crew and other technical experts, Wessex proved to be the perfect partners for the film. Additional support came from the South West Peatland Partnership, who arranged for Kat and her team to interview their regular contractor, Andy Coleman, and South Pennines Park, who provided the locations and additional footage for the film.


Inspiring future conservationists

Chris Atkinson and Kat Hopwood-Lewis, Natural England on a site visit in South Yorkshire

The project was aided by PhD student, Chris Atkinson, who worked closely with Kat (both pictured right on a site visit in South Yorkshire) as part of a White Rose College of Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH) Research Employability placement. Chris was nominated for a Natural England Volunteer Award for his support on the project, which allowed Kat and her team to continue to provide vital grant scheme casework while developing this additional and novel resource.

This hands-on experience working as part of a team within a government body allowed Chris to learn more about the historic environment in peatlands, and the essential work that is being carried out to protect them throughout England.

To find out more about the project, the ‘toolbox talk’, or the work of Natural England in relation to peatlands and the historic environment, contact Kat Hopwood-Lewis at