Damage to scheduled monuments
In this guide
1. Damage and unauthorised works
It is a criminal offence to destroy or damage a scheduled monument without scheduled monument consent. The person commissioning or carrying out the works is responsible for avoiding damage to scheduled monuments. Anyone found guilty of damaging or destroying a scheduled monument can be prosecuted.
It is also a criminal offence to carry out works without scheduled monument consent. A lack of knowledge of the status or location of a scheduled monument will only be permitted as a defence if the accused can prove that they took all reasonable steps to find out if a scheduled monument would be affected by the works. A defence is also permitted for works urgently necessary in the interests of health and safety, provided notice in writing is given to the Welsh Ministers as soon as reasonably practicable.
To avoid carrying out unauthorised works, it is important that you familiarise yourself with the location and details of all the scheduled monuments on your land, and understand the full extent of the scheduled areas. You can do this using the maps on Cadw’s Cof Cymru — National Historic Assets of Wales.
Anyone carrying out building or other large-scale operations involving ground disturbance should use Cof Cymru to confirm that there are no scheduled monuments in the area where you will be working.
If you become aware of unauthorised damage to your scheduled monument, you should contact Cadw immediately. Cadw will investigate all reports of possible damage to scheduled monuments. Where they are substantiated, Cadw will inform the police who will conduct their own investigation to provide evidence for consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service. Decisions to prosecute lie with the Crown Prosecution Service.
A conviction can be punishable by a fine and in the case of intentional or reckless damage or destruction can also result in imprisonment.
In exceptional circumstances, you may be able to apply for retrospective consent to retain unauthorised works. Such consent is at the discretion of the Welsh Ministers. In practice, this will happen only rarely and in situations where the works are beneficial to the monument.
It is highly unlikely that retrospective consent would be granted for works that have had an adverse impact on a scheduled monument. This means that the works would remain liable for prosecution, enforcement, or both. The application process is the same as for full scheduled monument consent.
2. Temporary stop notices
If someone is caught in the act of causing damage to a scheduled monument, Cadw has the power to issue them with a temporary stop notice that applies for a period of up to 28 days. During this period Cadw will work with the owner of the monument to investigate and assess the damage, and agree a plan for how it can be mitigated.
If you are issued with a temporary stop notice, you must stop all work immediately for the period detailed on the notice. Non-compliance with a temporary stop notice is a criminal offence punishable by a fine. This would be in addition to the original offence of carrying out unauthorised works.
After Cadw has completed an investigation, but before the end of the period covered by the temporary stop notice, Cadw may issue a written enforcement notice. This will specify the works necessary to repair or alleviate the damage so that the monument is once again stable and protected.
3. Scheduled monument enforcement notices
If a scheduled monument has been damaged by unauthorised works, Cadw can serve a scheduled monument enforcement notice on the owner or person(s) responsible for the damage. The enforcement notice will specify the actions needed to repair the damage. These will vary according to the nature of the monument and type of damage. Typically, they will include archaeological investigation to recover and record historical evidence and either stabilisation or restoration to the former state of the monument.
If you receive an enforcement notice, it will include details of the time frame within which you must carry out the works. Failure to comply with the notice is an offence. If no action is taken within this period, Cadw may choose to carry out the works and the costs could be recovered from the owner.
Cadw publishes details of all scheduled monument enforcement notices on its website.
4. Powers of entry
Cadw or an authorised agent may inspect your scheduled monument at any reasonable time to:
• check its condition
• check for any unauthorised work and associated damage
• consider an application for scheduled monument consent, or the modification or revocation of consent
• observe consented works during and after their completion to make sure they comply with any conditions
• examine and record anything of archaeological or historical interest revealed during the course of consented works.
With the consent of the owner and the occupier, a person authorised by the Welsh Ministers may put up and maintain notice boards and marker posts on or near the site of the scheduled monument to preserve it from accidental or deliberate damage.