English Heritage has introduced new signs at its sites which are designed to shift expectations and encourage use of the five senses.

The charity has taken inspiration from the classic ‘Ministry of Works’ signs, which traditionally caution visitors to stay off the grass, or take caution.

But the new signs will ‘caution’ visitors not to miss out on sensory experiences, such as removing their shoes and standing where history happened or appreciating the view.

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A sign at Audley End (English Heritage)

In addition to the signs, which will be found in the grounds of numerous English Heritage sites across the country, the charity has created a visual guide outlining the ‘50 Ways to Explore using your Senses’ on its website.

It includes suggestions such as feeling the chill of ancient stones, tasting heritage produce grown in historic kitchen gardens, taking on new perspectives from the vantage points of historic figures and sniffing out the onsite animals.

A sign at Walmer Castle (English Heritage)

Louise Crawley, landscape advisor and historian at English Heritage explained the charity is “inviting visitors to escape from their own lives for a moment and, by using their senses to engage with their surroundings, walk in the footsteps of England’s vast array of historic figures – seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching the very same things that they did.

“In today’s world, where we’re constantly overstimulated and expected to be at the end of a phone 24/7, it can be difficult to stop and connect with our environment. We hope that our visitors will be inspired to take the time to focus on the sensations around them and, in doing so, form a deeper understanding of the lives of those who went before.”

The senses signs will be at English Heritage sites from today, 9 June, until the end of July 2023.

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