Coflein, the line of memory, is the digital archaeological archive of the National Monuments Record of Wales (NMRW), which includes the national collection of information on the historical heritage of Wales. The name is derived from the Welsh Cof, for memory, while lein means line. COFLEIN contains and provides via the Internet details of many thousands of archaeological sites, historical monuments, buildings and marine sites in Wales, along with an index to the drawings, manuscripts, maps and photographs, which are included in the collection of the NMRW. At this moment, over 1,25 millions photographs, 70.000 drawings and 50.000 historical maps are registered in the collection, in addition to thousands of research papers and reports. COFLEIN has been developed under the aegis of the National Parliament of Wales and in association with the registry of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS).
Data can be queried by location (place - name), by type (the classification or function of a site, monument or building) or freely, using any keywords. A query can also be performed by zooming on an interactive map, which allows the formulation of questions, such as: “What sites of interest are near my home?” "Which type of monuments can I see, when I make a walk?", "When were certain public buildings built?", or "Which photographs from the past of specific regions exist?”. Textual information appears (wherever this is essential), while simultaneously a listing of references to information related to the types of monuments is also provided.
Access to the database is free for anyone interested, without any requirements for registration. The system is still under development and consequently does not offer the possibility to access all the information managed by the NMRW. Comments and suggestions for improvement, additional information or features requested by the visitor, are welcome from the designers.
Archive of Monuments as Information Centre for whoever still considers that a digital archive of monuments is a mere database of monuments data, a visit to COFLEIN creates a fertile reflection: a digital archive of monuments, is not simply a repository of data, but an information service. It should be a live, multidimensional and mainly open information centre, that can provide rich information in forms and media much more complex than the registration forms of monument bulletins, to a broad public that exceeds both the confined limits of domain experts, as well as, via the Internet, the narrow geographic borders.