Institute of Archaeology


Skatepark Heritage Research Group

The Skatepark Heritage Research Group is dedicated to documenting early skateparks where these still exist, bringing forgotten examples to wider attention, and researching their history.

Cement skatepark with colourful graffiti among dunes/scrubland

Skateboarding is an important part of twenty-first century culture and has considerable cultural, financial and entertainment value, as indicated by its recent incorporation in the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. It is practised on human-made surfaces such as pavements and roads as well as on wooden ramps and within asphalt and concrete skateparks. Hundreds of examples of the latter were built worldwide during the skateboardings Second Wave” in the late 1970s–early 1980s, but very few original parks of this key period survive and many are currently threatened with destruction.

The historic status recently ascribed to three well-preserved examples in the UK and Australia (see below) highlights the heritage value of the other remaining original skateparks. The Skatepark Heritage Research Group is dedicated to documenting early skateparks where these still exist, bringing forgotten examples to wider attention, and researching their history.

We advocate for the protection, preservation and conservation of important heritage skateparks, as well and their continued use by the skateboarding community. We are also interested in exploring subterranean parks that were intentionally buried and thus lay dormant, investigating their state of preservation and potential for re-use.

Our aims are to raise awareness of the heritage value of this unique type of sporting structure and promote the study of skateparks via historical and archaeological methods. A recent academic journal article, Quinn and Borden (2023a), sets out a case for the study of skateparks as heritage and proposes an agenda for dealing with them as such.

The Skatepark Heritage Research Group consists of academics and amateur enthusiasts from several countries, most of whom skate. Our methods include literature- and web-based research, site visits, mapping, geophysical exploration and outreach. We are happy to provide advice on heritage skateparks of any kind where these are associated with urban development or are currently in a state of disrepair.

Below is a short bibliography of books and articles on skatepark heritage and archaeology, as well as links to the current heritage recognised parks. Links are also provided to several documentary films on classic skateparks, which are a good entry point to this topic, as well as other websites on skateboarding and skatepark heritage.

A black & white line map showing skatepark  worldwide locations (top), the USA (bottom left) and the UK (bottom right)

Selected bibliography

  • Borden, I. 2019. Skateboarding and the City: A Complete History. London, Bloomsbury Visual Arts, London.
  • Gaffney, C., T. Sparrow, A. Corkum, H. McCreary, C. Harris and Wood., J. 2019. The Archaeology of 20th Century Sports and Leisure: Topophilia, Interiography and Texture. In: J. Bonsall (ed.) New Global Perspectives on Archaeological Prospection. 13th International Conference on Archaeological Prospection. 28 August-1 September 2019, Sligo, Ireland. Archaeopress, Oxford: 148–149.
  • Muckle, R. and Emmett, B. 2016. Never Say Last Run: Skateboarders Challenging the Terrain and Becoming Involved in Archaeology. Paper Presented at Theoretical Archaeology Group Annual Meeting Southampton, UK, 19–21 December.
  • O’Connor, P. 2017. Handrails, Steps and Curbs: Sacred Places and Secular Pilgrimage in Skateboarding. Sport in Society, 21: 1651–1668. (https://doi.org/10.1080/17430437.2017.1390567)
  • Quinn, P. S. and Borden, I. 2023a. Solid Surf: An Assessment of the Heritage Value of late 1970s early 1980s Concrete and Asphalt Skateboard Parks,nand Strategies for their Protection and Conservation. Journal of Contemporary Archaeology, 10: 139–169. (https://doi.org/10.1558/jca.25151)
  • Quinn, P. S. and Borden, I. 2023b. Seven original 1970s skateparks that show why these urban treasures should be protected. The Conversation, 7 December 2023. (https://theconversation.com/seven-original-1970s-skateparks-that-show-wh...)
  • Snyder, C. B. 2015. A Secret History of the Ollie, Volume 1: The 1970s. Cambridge: Black Salt Press.
  • ‘Trawler’ Lawer, M. (ed.) 2021. Snakes and Moguls Redux Edition: A Scrapbook of Britain’s Seven-ties Skateparks. Croydon: CPI Books.

Heritage Recognised Skateparks 

Heritage Skatepark Documentaries 

Other Websites on Skateboarding and Skatepark Heritage