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Scheduled Monuments

Best-practice guidance

In this guide

1. Caring for Coastal Heritage

The spectacular coast of Wales has attracted settlers for thousands of years. From prehistoric hunters to Victorian industrialists, people have left an indelible mark on the coastline and much of what we see today has been shaped by their activities. But the evidence is often fragile and, once lost, is gone forever. The protection and preservation of this great historical legacy falls to many organisations — private and public, local and national — and it is important that consideration of our historic environment is properly reflected in the policies and actions of them all.

To help our understanding, Cadw, with the support of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, has funded the four Welsh Archaeological Trusts to complete a rapid archaeological survey of the entire Welsh coastline. This booklet draws on their work and follows some of the principal historical developments reflected in the ancient monuments which survive today. Advice is also provided on the care of our coastal heritage and it is hoped this information will be of help and interest to all involved in coastal management.


2. Caring for Hillforts and Homesteads

Wales boasts some of the most impressive Iron Age hillforts in Britain, as well as a large number of smaller defended settlements, farmsteads, groups of roundhouses (sometimes called hut groups) and field systems. While the ramparts of a prehistoric hillfort may be high enough to attract attention and visitors even today, over two thousand years after they were built, the houses of the inhabitants were far less substantial. The clay walls and timber posts of roundhouses have long since decayed and there is often little on the surface to indicate the extent of the archaeological features below, but further important information lying beneath the surface.

The survival or destruction of archaeological sites depends almost entirely upon land use over the years. Agricultural improvements in the past have had a significant effect on their survival: enclosure, ploughing and field clearance have all contributed to the destruction of historic monuments and archaeological sites. The large-scale upland forestry planting of the 1960s also caused much destruction: some hillforts were blanketed with conifers. However, many sites and monuments have survived, whether as stone-built foundations or earthworks, on pastoral slopes, in woodland and on hilltops, or as buried archaeological features below the plough soil of our fertile lowlands.

This booklet describes some of the Iron Age monuments that can be found in the Welsh countryside and explains their importance to our understanding of the past. It also considers the factors that have affected their survival and the pressures on many sites today. It describes some simple actions and conservation measures that can be taken by owners and land managers to help care for the hillforts and homesteads of our Iron Age ancestors.

3. Caring for Historic Monuments on the Farm

Land management has always been a critical factor in the survival of historic features and their day-to-day care falls still to individual landowners and tenants. This is acknowledged through a range of grant schemes and initiatives that encourage sustainable agriculture, sympathetic to natural habitats and the historic environment.  This booklet describes some of the monuments to be found in the Welsh countryside and explains their importance to our understanding of the past. It  also considers the factors that have affected their survival and the pressures faced by many sites today. It describes some simple actions that can help farmers and managers to preserve this important element of the wider historic environment for the future.


4. Caring for Lost Farmsteads

From the mountains of Snowdonia to the coastal plains of Monmouthshire the Welsh countryside is dotted with abandoned houses and farmsteads reflecting the ebb and flow of settlement over many centuries. From the cottages of nineteenth century agricultural labourers, to the houses of medieval farmers, these deserted settlements are the lost homes of the rural Welsh population. Buried within them is evidence that can tell us about the people who once lived there.

Past investigations have often concentrated on grandiose remains, the Iron Age hillforts, and Norman castles of the society elite. But the heritage of Wales is not all about wealth and privilege — what of the lives of the farmers, artisans, shepherds and labourers?

Written records rarely mention the peasantry. If we wish to learn more we must turn to archaeology. Scattered throughout the landscape are traces of their homes, ruined cottages, abandoned building foundations and earth platforms built to support houses. The remains may be faint but they can still be surprisingly rich ground for archaeological investigations.

The Deserted Rural Settlements Project was set up to investigate and record these lost homes and farmsteads.  This booklet outlines the findings of that study. We hope it will draw attention to, and encourage interest in these fascinating sites, and provide information about the care of this important resource for the study of Welsh rural history.


5. Caring for Military Sites of the Twentieth Century

Defence is a recurring theme in Welsh archaeology. Justly famous for its impressive Iron Age hillforts and spectacular medieval castles, Wales also possesses military remains of international importance from twentieth-century struggles: especially World War 1 (1914–1918), World War 2 (1939–1945), and the Cold War (1946–1989).

Many sites were demolished through official clearance schemes or have disappeared as a result of agricultural improvements, forestry plantation and development activity. However, many remain, either as standing structures or buried archaeological features. The events that led to their creation have profoundly affected our families, communities and landscape, and public interest in these remains is growing. Their survival or destruction is dependent on future management.

This booklet introduces the range of twentieth-century military sites that can be found in Wales and explains their importance to our understanding of the recent past. It describes the factors affecting their survival. Drawing on the experience of Cadw and its partners, it describes some simple actions that owners and land managers can take to help care for our recent military heritage.

6. Caring for Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Monuments

What do we mean by prehistoric funerary and ritual monuments and why should they be considered important? Standing stones, stone circles, chambered tombs and cairns are examples of monuments built by our prehistoric ancestors, both for ceremonial purposes and for remembering and containing the remains of their dead. As well as being significant features in the landscape, these archaeological sites contain valuable information for a wide range of studies, from cosmology and religion through diet and health to population and society. Because there is no written record for this period in human history, such sites remain crucial to furthering our understanding of life and society in prehistoric times.

Associated with the visible remains may be buried archaeological deposits. These may contain a wealth of important information that can often go unnoticed and may never be recorded if damaged. For example, charcoal from ancient fires and hearths can provide radiocarbon dates; pottery, flint tools and metalwork can shed light on culture and society; and ancient pollen, seeds and snails can allow the archaeologist to describe the prehistoric environment. 

Human settlement in Wales, Britain and Europe spans thousands of years, but the archaeological evidence for it is a finite, delicate and valuable resource. It is only through continued vigilance and care that the fragile remains of our past will survive. This booklet describes and explains the monuments themselves and provides advice on their management and care.

7. Managing Scheduled Monuments in Wales

Managing Scheduled Monuments in Wales sets out the general principles to consider when managing and making changes to scheduled monuments. It explains how to apply for scheduled monument consent, including the roles and responsibilities of owners and Cadw, the Welsh Government’s historic environment service.

This best-practice guide is aimed principally at owners, occupiers and managers of scheduled monuments. It explains what it means to own a scheduled monument and how to care for it, and provides details about where to get further help and assistance.

8. Setting of Historic Assets in Wales

Setting of Historic Assets in Wales explains what setting is, how it contributes to the significance of a historic asset and why it is important. It also outlines the principles used to assess the potential impact of development or land management proposals within the settings of World Heritage Sites, ancient monuments (scheduled and unscheduled), listed buildings, registered historic parks and gardens, and conservation areas.

This best-practice guidance is aimed at developers, owners, occupiers and agents, who should use it to inform management plans and proposals for change which may have an impact on the significance of a historic asset and its setting.