Linked Data vocabularies for cultural heritage

Linked Data cloud by Anja Jentzsch

Linked Data cloud by Anja Jentzsch

Colleagues from the Hypermedia Research Unit at the University of South Wales have been working hard on the Seneschal project of late (also see here for more info about the project) and a key output has been released this week, comprising a range of cultural heritage vocabularies expressed as Linked Open Data. For those who attended the Hestia event on Thursday, Keith May gave a bit of a sneak preview.

This is a massively important step forward for the heritage domain as it allows datasets to directly reference terms from these national standard thesauri within Linked Data applications. I, for one, will be making use of this as part of my doctoral research in the Linked Data resources I will be creating and using.

Seneschal logo

Seneschal logo

So congratulations and massive thanks to Ceri Binding and Doug Tudhope for their hard work on this amazing resource.

The release was described thus:

English Heritage, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and and the University of South Wales are pleased to announce that cultural heritage thesauri and vocabularies are now freely available as Linked Open Data as a preliminary outcome of the SENESCHAL project at:

The vocabularies, which include concepts relating to monument types, archaeological objects, events and time periods and maritime craft are also available for download in SKOS format.


These major heritage thesauri and vocabularies have been widely used as informal standards but until now have lacked the persistent Linked Open Data (LOD) URIs needed to allow them to act as vocabulary hubs for the Web of Data.

The AHRC funded SENESCHAL project aims to make vocabularies available online as Semantic Web resources. The project begins with the current Heritage Data vocabularies and intends to make other vocabularies available.

In the next phase, RESTful web services will be established to make the vocabulary resources accessible and searchable. This will include provision to allow users to suggest new terms. A series of case studies will explore use of these web services as part of indexing tools and widgets.

SENESCHAL is coordinated by the Hypermedia Research Unit at the University of South Wales. Project collaborators include English Heritage, RCAHMS, RCHAMW, Archaeology Data Service, the Bespoke Historic Environment Record User Group and Wessex Archaeology Ltd.