The role of the Historic Environment Liaison Officer (HELO) varies from person to person, according to their interests and inclinations, and the particular needs of their parish.
HELOs are asked to liaise between the Parish Council and the Dorset Council Historic Environment team on archaeological matters, and promote local understanding and awareness of:
- historic buildings, monuments and archaeological matters in general, and the role of the Dorset Council Historic Environment team in particular
- the Dorset Historic Environment Record (HER) as an information resource available to the public and local communities
- the Portable Antiquities Scheme for Somerset and Dorset
- the requirements of the Treasure Act 1996 and of the ways in which finds of possible treasure may be reported
- the Metal Detectorists' Liaison Scheme and the Dorset Code of Best Practice for metal detectorists
- collect information about the condition of, and access to, monuments for incorporation into the HER
- report any sites or artefacts not yet recorded to the HER
- assist in the identification of sites worthy of protection
- assist in the monitoring of monuments and areas of known high archaeological potential
- assist with local contacts to discuss the management and interpretation of sites, where appropriate
Most parishes have one HELO, but some have more than one, and occasionally the HELO is 'front man' for a group of people who take on different aspects of the role - we don't mind, as long as someone co-ordinates the work and acts as a point of contact.
Local knowledge and contacts make an important contribution to understanding and protecting Dorset's historic environment.
There is a network of volunteer Historic Environment Liaison Officers (HELO) across Dorset, appointed by parish and town councils.
We don't expect HELOs to have any particular knowledge of archaeology or historic buildings, but we do hope that they want to learn more about the historic environment of their parish, and help us spread awareness and understanding of it.
Find out more about being a Heritage Champion as a HELO or volunteering on a more occasional basis with our historic environment volunteer scheme.
Update your contact information
If you are from a parish council use this form to update contact information for your HELO or tell us of new appointments.
Origins of the HELO scheme
The former Dorset County Council set up a network of parish liaison officers in 1987, following a recommendation made to the Dorset Archaeological Committee. It was recognised that local knowledge and contacts are important and could make a significant contribution to monitoring archaeological threats and protecting archaeological monuments in the county.
In 1986 the suggestion was considered by the Dorset Association of Parish and Town Councils and it was agreed that parish councils be recommended to appoint historic environment liaison officers (then called ancient monuments liaison officers or AMLOs) with a function like footpath liaison officers; they would act in an advisory capacity via the parish council. A pilot project started in April 1987, and soon extended to parishes throughout the county.