Event Mining in our Rural Past

In 2001, RCAHMS (The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of
Scotland) completed an ambitious and long-running project to map unroofed settlements
depicted on the OS First Edition maps and add them to the Canmore1 online database. The
project (named FESP, “First Edition Survey Project”) made over 25,000 new sites available for
“medieval or later rural settlement” research (McInnes 2003). These sites are not high profile
visitor attractions – they are mostly ordinary cottages and farm buildings, now ruined – but they
paint a picture of rural life over the past few centuries.
More recently, the audience for this data has become much broader, through the highly
successful Scotland’s Rural Past2 (SRP) project, which encouraged communities around Scotland
to find out about their local heritage and protect it for the future, through research and hands-on
field investigation and survey. The SRP project has now finished but the groups it fostered are
This project, Event Mining in our Rural Past aims to make the FESP data more accessible and
useful to users such as the local history enthusiasts of SRP, by using text mining to extract
structured data from the free text documents associated with FESP. This will be used to populate
database fields in Canmore, making the data much more readily searchable.

(Byrne, ‘Case for Support’)



Read the final report for this project:

Byrne, K. 2014, ‘Event Mining in Our Rural Past.’ Working Papers of the Communities & Culture Network+ Vol.3 (April 2014).


Key Participants:

Kate Byrne is a research fellow in the School of Informatics at Edinburgh University,
specialising in language engineering and the semantic web. Before her MSc and PhD (completed
in 2009) she worked for many years as an IT manager, mainly in cultural archive bodies. She is
very familiar with managing projects and with the RCAHMS data, which formed the corpus used
in her PhD research. Recent and current research projects she has worked on include the
European FP7 funded project SYNC34, which used language technology to collate and relate
news stories; the Google funded GAP5 (Google Ancient Places) project and its various successors,
which deal with geoparsing texts from the classical era and displaying placename mentions on a
map of the ancient world; and the CURIOS6 project led by Aberdeen University, which is working
with community groups in the Hebrides to build a semantic web platform for their local cultural

Peter McKeague joined RCAHMS in 1992, after 10 years fieldwork experience,. He is responsible
for several data and GIS projects at RCAHMS and the promotion of Spatial Data standards for
the historic environment. Peter represents Scotland on the OASIS Management Board,
overseeing the reporting of commercial fieldwork through online forms, is an attending member
at FISH (Forum for Information Standards in Heritage) and acts as liaison with the Ordnance
Survey. He has previously represented RCAHMS on the Informing the Future of the Past 2
(guidelines for Sites and Monuments Record) Project Board, and has sat on the UK Pan
Government Agreement User group for aerial photography and the Environment and
Designations Group, reporting to the Spatial Information Board in Scotland. He currently
represents RCAHMS as a data provider on the SENESCHAL7 project to publish heritage
vocabularies as Linked Data.