What Is a Scheduled Ancient Monument?
Nationally important sites and monuments are given legal protection by being placed on a ‘schedule’. Historic England leads in identifying sites which are then placed on the schedule by the Secretary of the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
Scheduling first began in 1882 when the first Ancient Monuments Act was passed. Current legislation is the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979. Scheduling is the only legal protection specifically for archaeological sites and the preservation of these sites is given priority over other uses. Works proposed to a monument will always require Scheduled Monument Consent. Destroying or damaging a protected monument is a criminal offence.
Which Sites Are Monuments?
Only man-made structures, feature and remains can be scheduled. These are usually archaeological sites, although some buildings are scheduled but these are usually protected by listing. Monuments may not always be visible above ground and despite their name they may not always be ancient. There are over 200 classes of monument ranging from prehistoric burial mounds, medieval castles, deserted medieval villages to WWII defences.
Scheduling is only applied if the site is of national importance and only then if it is the best means of protection. There are about 18,300 entries on the schedule, but nationally there are over 1 million archaeological sites across England. Visit our see Archaeology page.
For further information please see our Scheduled Ancient Monuments List.