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Scheduled Monuments

Looking after your scheduled monument

In this guide

1. Managing your monument

Most people are keen to care for the scheduled monuments in their ownership so that they can be handed on to future generations. Often, management can simply be a matter of avoiding activities that might cause damage but, in some cases, active management may be required to slow or avoid the effects of natural deterioration.

You will need to take care that you do not carry out any works that would result in damage or make any changes that may affect it or its setting without proper permission. These include changes designed to enhance your scheduled monument, inadvertent changes and those that may affect it adversely. If you do need to make changes, you should consider relevant guidance and seek any consents required before these changes take place.

Scheduled monuments are most often ruinous buildings, buried archaeological remains or earthwork monuments. As such, they can be particularly vulnerable to the forces of natural erosion, decay and inadvertent damage. Many scheduled monuments are on farmland or in open country, and many are visited by the general public. All can be subject to wear and tear but, through sensitive management, it is possible for you to manage your scheduled monument in a sustainable way that allows you to hand it on in good condition to future generations.

How you manage your scheduled monument will depend on a range of factors including:

  • the type of monument
  • its current use
  • its current condition
  • whether it is showing signs of active deterioration.

In the case of large or complicated monuments, you may find it useful to draw up a conservation management plan to guide your decisions. Such plans are particularly helpful for ruinous scheduled monuments and those that are run as visitor attractions.

Whatever management plan you have in place, it is important to consider the impact of your proposed work on the significance of your scheduled monument before you begin work. In particular, you should beware of the potential cumulative impact of small-scale changes, which individually may seem insignificant. A heritage impact assessment is a useful process to identify the potential impact of any proposed work.

As well as being affected by natural decay, scheduled monuments are vulnerable to damage from inappropriate works. For this reason, you must apply to Cadw for scheduled monument consent to carry out many operations. It is a criminal offence to carry out unauthorised works without scheduled monument consent so it is important to understand when it is needed.

2. Understanding your monument

Archaeological sites and historic monuments are one of our most important sources of information about past generations. In the case of prehistoric sites that were built before written records began, they are our only source of information. Every building, structure or site is unique; each has its own story to tell. The materials used to build the monument will contain evidence about how and when it was built, how it was used and what happened to it. From studying this evidence, we can not only learn more about the people who built and used it, but also how to keep it in good repair. The surroundings — or setting — of a monument are important too because they can help us understand more about the site itself.

Scheduled monuments differ from listed buildings in that generally they are ruinous or buried and have limited direct economic value to their owners. They are important because of their history and the archaeological evidence that may be buried within and beneath them. For example, collapsed sections of a building can help us to piece together its original appearance and how it changed through use and time.

As archaeological and scientific techniques improve, we are able to retrieve more detailed information that can throw light on to lost worlds. Microscopic particles, such as pollen and plant remains, can show us what the climate and environment was like in the past. Scientific analysis of residues found in pots can tell us what people were eating, and careful examination of skeletons can tell us about their health and how they lived and died.

It is important to protect this precious archaeological evidence. This means that routine maintenance and management is a vital part of caring for your scheduled monument. Through understanding your scheduled monument, you can plan appropriate management to ensure its long-term survival in good condition. Cadw can provide help and advise you how best to care for your scheduled monument.

3. Significance

Understanding why your scheduled monument is of national importance and what is significant about it will help you to care for it. Once a monument is scheduled the whole site is protected, including any later alterations. This means that it is important for you to have a thorough understanding of what makes your scheduled monument special before you do anything that could cause harm.

Preparing a statement of significance is a useful way to draw together your understanding of your scheduled monument and explain it to others. It should form the starting point for your management, interpretation and any proposed changes or applications for consent. It should include a brief description of your scheduled monument and a summary of its overall heritage value. Focusing on the heritage values of your historic asset will help you to analyse its significance:

  • Evidential value: the extent to which the physical evidence tells how and when your scheduled monument was made, how it was used and how it has changed over time. There may be buried or obscured elements associated with your scheduled monument which may also be an important source of evidence.
  • Historical value: your scheduled monument may illustrate a particular aspect of past life or it might be associated with a specific person, event or movement; there may be physical evidence of these connections which is important to retain.
  • Aesthetic value: the design, construction and craftsmanship of your scheduled monument. This can include setting and views to and from your scheduled monument, which may have changed through time.
  • Communal value: your scheduled monument may have particular significance for its commemorative, symbolic or spiritual value, or for the part it has played in cultural or public life.

You can find out more about these heritage values in Cadw’s Conservation Principles for the Sustainable Management of the Historic Environment in Wales.

4. Earthwork monuments

Many scheduled monuments in Wales are earthworks. They range from prehistoric enclosures, hillforts and burial mounds through to Roman marching camps, Offa’s Dyke, Civil War fortifications and even more recent features like industrial tramway inclines and Cold War military installations. They can be visible as upstanding humps and bumps, as well as buried archaeological remains, and they are especially vulnerable to erosion and damage caused by people, animals or natural processes.

A good general rule for maintaining earthwork monuments is the less disturbance of the ground the better. Encouraging good grass cover is ideal combined with preventing invasive scrub, bracken or trees from taking root. Invasive vegetation should be cut down to ground level leaving the roots to rot in situ, though it may be necessary to use herbicide for permanent removal. If so, replanting with suitable grass or other groundcover vegetation may be appropriate. In cases where trees have grown to maturity on a monument much of the root damage will have already taken place. In these cases, the greatest risk is from falling trees with upturned roots that disturb archaeological remains. Felling dying or vulnerable trees before this can happen is preferable, leaving the roots in the ground to die back naturally.

If your scheduled monument includes areas covered by trees and you are planning woodland operations, it is important to plan the felling to limit the risk of damage to the monument. For example, extraction routes and storage areas should be designed to avoid the need for vehicles to travel over earthwork features. In some cases, additional protective measures such as using brash mats to prevent vehicles from sinking into the ground may be necessary.

You may also need a felling or woodland management licence for some works within woodland areas. These are issued by Natural Resources Wales who may consult Cadw on applications for licences affecting scheduled monuments. If your scheduled monument contains trees protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO),20 conservation area status or planning conditions, you may need to seek permission from your local authority before beginning work.

Earthwork monuments can be particularly vulnerable to erosion caused by people, animals or natural processes. Vehicle damage, livestock poaching, scrub encroachment and burrowing animals can all result in substantial and rapid damage with the loss of unique and irreplaceable archaeological information. However, some relatively simple actions such as maintaining appropriate stock levels, especially in very wet or dry conditions, placing animal feeders and water troughs away from archaeologically sensitive areas, and applying low impact grassland restoration methods to avoid disturbing buried remains can be highly beneficial.

Caring for Historic Monuments on the Farm provides more information about how you can manage monuments to avoid damage. You can also contact us for advice about how best to manage earthwork monuments and buried archaeological remains.

You will not normally require scheduled monument consent for general maintenance providing the works do not involve disturbing the ground or the fabric of the monument.

This table summarises activities, risks and best-practice methods to maintain your scheduled monument and explains whether or not you need scheduled monument consent to proceed.



5. Buildings

Maintaining roofless monuments, such as medieval stone castles or disused industrial buildings, in stable condition can be particularly challenging and often requires phases of active conservation to consolidate masonry (see section 2.2). Often scheduled buildings can have associated earthworks and buried archaeological remains within and around them. You will also need to take these into account when planning any maintenance work.

Ivy and invasive vegetation growing on ruined walls may be picturesque, but it can also cause much damage. The roots can run for considerable distances within the core of walls and wind blowing on the crown of the tree can result in historic walls being levered apart. Water penetration and subsequent freeze-thaw action can damage historic mortars and renders. Unchecked, walls will start to collapse.

Ivy or other intrusive vegetation growing out of walls should not simply be pulled away as this can disturb or damage the monument and may be dangerous. Instead, it should be cut back to the level of masonry without disturbing the stonework. Although you will not normally need formal consent to do this, it is a good idea to talk to us first about how best to remove invasive vegetation to avoid causing further damage.

Maintenance regimes that prevent the growth of invasive woody vegetation can significantly slow deterioration and help to maintain the visibility of the monument.

You will not normally require scheduled monument consent for general maintenance providing the works do not involve disturbing the ground or the fabric of the monument.

This table summarises activities, risks and best-practice methods to maintain your scheduled monument and explains whether or not you need scheduled monument consent to proceed.

6. Conservation management plans

A conservation management plan is a document which explains why a historic monument or place is significant and how you will sustain that significance in any new use, alteration, repair or management.

A conservation management plan is based on an understanding of your scheduled monument and its significance. It offers a long-term, whole-site approach to management so that you avoid inappropriate and unplanned changes. Your plan should include a statement of significance, identify current and potential risks, and look for opportunities to improve the monument. Conservation management plans are best prepared by qualified and competent experts, especially for complex monuments.

For smaller monuments, a simpler plan, drawing on the principles of conservation management planning can be very helpful.

In all cases, conservation management plans should be proportionate to the scale and complexity of the site. This means that they need not necessarily be long or expensive to produce, and the information they contain can be used as the basis for assessing the impact of any proposed work.

Conservation management plans are often a requirement to support applications for grant funding from bodies such as Cadw or the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

7. Repairs

Sometimes, when maintenance has failed to prevent damage, repairs are the only way you can avoid the loss of parts of your scheduled monument. Unlike listed buildings, which can normally be repaired ‘like-for-like’ without consent, you will usually need consent to repair your scheduled monument.

Repairs should be the minimum necessary to stabilise and conserve the monument both for its long-term survival and to meet the needs of continuing use. Examples include repairing erosion scars on earthworks and repointing failing masonry.

Understanding the nature and materials making up the monument, the historical evidence it presents and its archaeological sensitivity can help guide your decisions on what actions to take. Before carrying out any repairs, it is important that you make sure you understand the cause of the damage to ensure that you are treating the problem and not just the symptom.

You should retain as much original fabric as possible. If you have to introduce new materials, they should be selected carefully to work sympathetically with the original fabric and to have the necessary qualities to withstand environmental conditions without the need to be replaced regularly.

It is important to make sure that your repairs can be differentiated from the original monument. For example, you can insert a separating textile membrane before introducing new earth or stone in the case of earthwork repairs or mark the junction between original masonry and modern repairs with a change in mortar or using tile inserts. Many different techniques exist and Cadw’s field monument wardens and inspectors of ancient monuments can provide you with advice on these.

When carrying out repairs to scheduled monuments, you will usually need to conduct some level of archaeological investigation. This will inform the work and provide a record of any evidence revealed during the investigation. All archaeological investigations should be carried out by appropriately qualified professionals.

Cadw’s Conservation Principles provides helpful guidance for carrying out repairs to historic assets.

You will normally need to apply for scheduled monument consent for carrying out repairs to your scheduled monument.

8. Restoration and reconstruction

The restoration or reconstruction of lost, destroyed or superseded elements of a scheduled monument will normally only be justified if it achieves conservation and/or public understanding benefits, and is based on compelling evidence.

For scheduled monuments, restoration usually involves the recreation of lost parts, appearance or function. Restoration proposals most often apply to masonry monuments open to the public to improve public understanding and appreciation, and to ensure their long-term preservation; for example, by reinstating a new roof over a ruinous building. Restoration will change the appearance of the scheduled monument and will impact on its archaeological values. It requires considerable thought, research and justification. Even when restoring parts of a monument that have collapsed using some or all of the original materials, the resulting restoration is new construction. This does not mean that restoration should not take place, simply that it should be based on compelling evidence.

Conjectural reconstruction is not appropriate for scheduled monuments; neither is the reinstatement of features that were deliberately superseded by later historical alterations, or which were lost as a result of a significant historical event, such as a deliberate act of destruction connected with the siege of a castle.

You will always need to apply for scheduled monument consent for restoration and reconstruction.

9. Public access

Although inclusion of a monument on the schedule does not give members of the general public any rights of access, many owners enjoy making their monuments accessible for visitors. Cadw can help you to do this by providing advice and assistance. In addition, you may wish to join in special events such as the annual Open Doors programme or the Festival of Archaeology organised by the Council for British Archaeology.

Caring for a scheduled monument that has visitor access can be very rewarding and is an opportunity to share the historic environment with visitors from far and wide. There are many ways you can provide information to help visitors understand your monument ranging from on-site panels and leaflets through to digital techniques, such as phone apps.

Visitor management does not have to mean fences or formal paths. There are many creative ways you can guide visitors safely around sites whilst also protecting and enhancing your scheduled monument. Allowing long grass to grow over sensitive areas can deter people while mown paths will direct visitors to the most advantageous and suitable viewing points. Similarly, carefully locating interpretation panels to be unobtrusive and to direct visitors away from archaeologically sensitive areas can be a low-key way to protect the monument.

In the case of larger sites, you may wish to install more substantial facilities such as a visitor centre. Wherever possible, developments such as this are best placed outside the scheduled monument in order to limit the impact on the monument, its buried archaeology and its setting. Careful thought should be given to building design so that it is sensitive to the monument and its setting, as well as inclusive for all visitors. If considering such development, you should contact Cadw and your local planning authority at an early stage for advice.

If you would like information about how to make your scheduled monument more accessible to the public or you are interested in taking part in Open Doors, please contact Cadw at

You will need to apply for scheduled monument consent for the installation of interpretation, signage and any other visitor management infrastructure such as paths, railings and buildings.

10. Cross compliance and GAEC measures

Care of the historic environment is an important part of the Welsh Government’s support for the agriculture industry. If you are a farmer wishing to take advantage of the Basic Payment Scheme (BPS),you will need to follow the cross compliance and GAEC measures. This includes caring for and preventing damage to all historic features, including scheduled monuments on your land.

Carrying out agricultural practices that result in damage to a scheduled monument can affect your payments so it is important to take account of known archaeological sites when developing your farm business plan and to consider how activities may affect them. For example, soil management, subsoiling, farm waste management, farm development and habitat creation can all have an impact.

Cadw’s field monument wardens can offer you help and advice.