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Scheduled Monuments

Understanding scheduling

In this guide

1. Introduction

Scheduled monuments are a precious part of our heritage. They help to create Wales’s distinctive character and contribute to our identity and sense of place. They are the physical evidence for the activities and lives of the people who have lived in Wales before us and who shaped the land that we live in today. Collectively, our scheduled monuments represent and promote Wales. Many have international significance which attracts visitors from all over the world.

Scheduling identifies monuments which are considered to be of national importance to Wales. This means that they have importance not just locally but for the wider cultural heritage of Wales. They range in date from prehistoric caves occupied over a quarter of a million years ago to industrial and military structures built during the twentieth century. Scheduled monuments represent all aspects of the lives of our ancestors ranging from special to everyday activities. From places to live, work and play through to places of conflict and worship, these nationally important monuments provide a connection with the ambitions and skills of past generations. Scheduling helps us to recognise all the special qualities of these places and protects them for the benefit of future generations.

Today’s owners and occupiers of land containing scheduled monuments have a critical part to play in managing our heritage. Through their care and commitment to safeguarding these precious assets, we will all be able to enjoy these monuments of national importance today and in the future.

Understanding Scheduling will help anyone who wants or needs to know why and how monuments are scheduled. It also explains how to ask for a monument to be scheduled or descheduled, and how to request a review of a scheduling decision.

2. What is scheduling?

Scheduling is the way that a monument or archaeological site of national importance is recognised by law through the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.

It is our oldest form of heritage protection. It began in 1913 but its origins go back to 1882 when measures to protect some ancient monuments first became law. This is when the term ‘schedule’ was first used to describe a list of mainly prehistoric sites that deserved State protection.

Although it is the responsibility of the Welsh Ministers to compile the schedule, in practice, we — Cadw — recommend which monuments should be scheduled.

The term ‘scheduled monument’ is wide ranging. It includes not only well-known castles, abbeys and prehistoric burial sites, but also less familiar sites such as limekilns, deserted medieval settlements and the remains of the iron, coal and slate industries in Wales. Some scheduled monuments contain standing buildings or ruins and others have no visible remains above ground, but their buried archaeology is of national importance. Sites that are underwater can be scheduled too, such as submerged lakeside settlement sites or historic wrecks. In fact, monuments and archaeological remains of all forms and dates can be scheduled providing they are not lived in or used for ecclesiastical purposes. This means that most scheduled monuments are archaeological sites or historic ruins.

The aim of scheduling is to preserve the archaeological evidence that survives within sites and monuments. This includes the physical fabric of the monument and any associated artefacts and environmental evidence, such as pollen or seeds. This means that if you want to carry out work that would physically alter a scheduled monument you will probably need to apply to us for permission known as scheduled monument consent. The scheduled monument consent process is intended to protect the monument, its setting and its features from unsympathetic works that could damage its national importance.

Many monuments and archaeological sites are important to their local communities, but, to be scheduled, they must be of national importance. The criteria for defining national importance are explained in section 3. We continue to add monuments to the schedule, and sometimes remove them.

3. How are monuments scheduled?

We assess each monument on its own merits. We take into account a number of factors when deciding whether a monument or archaeological site is of national importance and meets the criteria needed for scheduling.

Scheduling recognises that ancient monuments and archaeological sites are often our only source of information about the time when they were in use. Some types of monuments are very rare, others are more numerous and varied in form and appearance. The criteria we use to select monuments for protection recognise this variability and allow flexibility for selecting which sites we will protect for the future.

Technical Advice Note 24: The Historic Environment sets out the criteria for scheduling.

The main considerations are:

Period

All types of monuments that characterise a category or period should be considered for preservation.

There is no age limit to the selection of sites which are scheduled. Even quite recent structures can be eligible providing they represent their period or activity satisfactorily.

Rarity

There are some monument categories, which are so scarce in certain periods that all surviving examples, which still retain some archaeological potential, should be preserved. In general, however, a selection must be made which portrays the typical and commonplace as well as the rare. This process should take account of all aspects of the distribution of a particular class of monument, both in a national and regional context.

Some monuments are so rare that they will be scheduled because they are of national importance. More common monuments will be scheduled by selection, usually based on their condition and archaeological potential, to represent a range and variety.

Documentation

The significance of a monument may be enhanced by the existence of records of previous investigation or, in the case of more recent monuments, by the supporting evidence of contemporary written records.

Monuments described in historic documents or for which records of earlier investigations exist can help us understand them better and guide our scheduling selections.

Group value

The value of a single monument (such as a field system) may be greatly enhanced by its association with related contemporary monuments (such as a settlement and cemetery) or with monuments of different periods. In some cases, it is preferable to protect the complete group of monuments, including associated and adjacent land, rather than to protect isolated monuments within the group.

Individual monuments were rarely built in isolation without any relationship to other contemporary structures. In these cases, we protect the group as a whole rather than schedule single monuments within the group.

Survival/Condition

The survival of a monument’s archaeological potential both above and below ground is a particularly important consideration and should be assessed in relation to its present condition and surviving features.

Most monuments selected for scheduling possess archaeological potential both above and below ground. This may include upstanding stone walls, buried postholes or rubble from collapsed structures, along with artefacts and archaeological deposits within and around the monument.

Fragility/Vulnerability

Highly important archaeological evidence from some field monuments can be destroyed by a single ploughing or unsympathetic treatment; vulnerable monuments of this nature would particularly benefit from the statutory protection which scheduling confers. There are also existing standing structures of particular form or complexity, whose value can be severely reduced by neglect or careless treatment, which are similarly well suited by scheduled monument protection, even if these structures are already listed historic buildings.

Scheduling can protect monuments with shallow buried remains that can be damaged very easily, for example, by ploughing. Scheduling can also protect the archaeological potential of some standing structures that could be damaged very easily by neglect or careless treatment.

Diversity

Some monuments may be selected for scheduling because they possess a combination of high-quality features; others because of a single important attribute.

Potential

On occasion, the nature of the evidence cannot be specified precisely but it may still be possible to document reasons anticipating its existence and importance, and therefore demonstrate the justification for scheduling. This is usually confined to sites rather than upstanding monuments.

Most archaeological sites contain evidence below ground which we cannot understand fully without excavation, but this is a destructive process which results in the loss of the primary record.

Techniques such as geophysical survey can help to define the nature and extent of surviving archaeological remains, but they will not reveal every detail of the site, particularly if it is deeply buried.

By using our experience drawn from excavations or exposures of other similar sites, we can assess archaeological potential and whether or not we should schedule sites. In these cases, scheduling protects the buried archaeological remains against disturbance and accidental loss.

Scheduling is discretionary. This means that we also consider the purpose and implications of scheduling when taking a decision. Occasionally, scheduling may not be appropriate even if a site meets the criteria. For example, if a coastal site is being rapidly eroded by the sea and is likely to be lost in the near future, scheduling may not be the best approach as it will not preserve the site. In such cases, full excavation might be the only way to record the importance of the historic asset.

Local listing can also be an effective way of protecting monuments and archaeological sites of local importance which do not meet the national criteria for scheduling but have a vital role in maintaining local character and sense of place. Local planning authorities are able to draw up lists of historic assets of special local interest and draw up policies to conserve and enhance them.

For more information about local listing, see Managing Lists of Historic Assets of Special Local Interest in Wales.

4. Finding out about scheduled monuments

We give each scheduled monument an entry in the official schedule. This includes a description and location plan which indicates the extent of the scheduled area. These records are published in Cof Cymru — National Historic Assets of Wales on Cadw’s website.

The schedule entry provides an overview of the monument: what it is and why it is important.

Although a schedule entry will mention elements or features of the monument which led to the scheduling, it may not be a complete record of all the features of importance. The amount of information in an entry can vary.

You may find additional information about the history of your scheduled monument in your local historic environment record, which is hosted by one of the four Welsh archaeological trusts, and in the National Monuments Record of Wales held by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales.

You can also contact Cadw’s team of inspectors of ancient monuments and field monument wardens to answer questions and provide management advice about your scheduled monument. cadw@gov.wales

We have published a series of guidance booklets which include information about different types of monument and the periods from which they date. These include Caring for Prehistoric Funerary and Ritual Monuments, Caring for Hillforts and Homesteads and Caring for Lost Farmsteads.

Occasionally, a monument may be listed as well as scheduled. When this happens, scheduled monument legislation takes precedence. For more information about listed buildings, see Understanding Listing in Wales and Managing Change to Listed Buildings in Wales.

5. How to request a scheduling

There are around 4,200 scheduled monuments in Wales. We can add more monuments to the schedule and we can also add to or reduce a scheduled area to reflect the extent of a monument more accurately.

We receive requests from:

  • owners and members of the public
  • organisations such as the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales and the Welsh archaeological trusts
  • local authorities
  • and as a result of commissioned research projects.  

You can make requests to us for individual monuments or archaeological sites to be scheduled, or for a scheduled area to be extended or reduced.

Before submitting your request, it is a good idea to check whether the monument is already scheduled and the extent of the scheduled area. You can do this on Cof Cymru — National Historic Assets of Wales.

It is also a good idea to talk to us before submitting a formal request.

It is important that you submit evidence to demonstrate the monument’s national importance.

It is also important to tell us if there are reasons why we should prioritise your application; for example, are there any known risks to the site?

You should send your requests to us at cadw@gov.wales and include:

• name, address/location of the monument or archaeological site, with postcode or map reference

• contact details for the owner/occupier, if known

• recent photographs showing the monument’s current appearance and special features

• information about the history of the monument — such as the date of construction, original use and historical development. If possible, you should include written or photographic evidence to support your request and tell us what sources you have used to find out about the monument.

• reasons why you think the monument may meet the criteria for scheduling.

We will assess the information to see whether the monument meets the national criteria for scheduling (see section 3). This may include consulting a wide range of sources and a site visit. Depending on the type of application, this stage can take a number of weeks, and sometimes months, to complete.

If we recommend the monument for scheduling or the scheduled area to be altered, we will consult:

• the monument’s owner and occupier

• the relevant local planning authority

• any other person that we believe to have special knowledge of, or interest in, the monument, or monuments of special historic or archaeological interest.

We will allow 28 days for the return of written responses. We will tell the owner, occupier and the local planning authority whether or not our decision is to schedule the monument or alter the scheduled area.

Interim protection

From the beginning of the consultation period, the monument will receive interim protection as if it is already scheduled. It will be an offence to damage it or to carry out works without scheduled monument consent.

Interim protection will last until a decision is made and we tell the owner, occupier and relevant local planning authority. We publish a list of monuments under interim protection on our website.

If the monument is not scheduled, compensation for loss or damage caused by the interim protection may be payable. Written claims for compensation must be made within six months from the date that interim protection ceased.

6. How to request changes

You may apply to The Planning Inspectorate for a review of the scheduling decision within 12 weeks of that decision on the grounds that the monument is not of national importance or that an addition to a scheduled area is unjustified. You will need to include full particulars of the case. The Planning Inspectorate will contact any interested parties who contributed to the original consultation and any other appropriate people so that they may contribute to the review. This may take the form of written representations, a hearing, or a public local inquiry.

Once The Planning Inspectorate has reached a decision, it will let the participants know its findings and we may need to amend the scheduling depending on the review decision.

If you believe that a scheduling should be reconsidered, you should send us the evidence, together with photographs of the monument and a location plan. The evidence must relate to the national importance of the monument.

We will investigate your evidence and may need to visit the monument before we reach an initial decision. If we recommend a descheduling, we will consult:

• the monument’s owner and occupier

• the relevant local planning authority

• any other person that we believe to have special knowledge of, or interest in, the monument, or monuments of special historic or archaeological interest.

We will allow 28 days for the return of written responses. We will tell the owner, occupier and the local planning authority whether or not our decision is to deschedule.

7. Owners' responsibilities

Like the owner of any asset, owners of scheduled monuments are responsible for looking after their property. Maintaining a scheduled monument in good repair helps to ensure its long-term survival for future generations.

You will need scheduled monument consent from us for most work that physically alters the site, including repairs. Before planning any work, it is a good idea to understand what makes your scheduled monument special so that any work can take that into account.

Managing Scheduled Monuments in Wales explains how to understand the significance of a scheduled monument and the best way to care for it.

There is a list of other useful sources of information at the end of this guidance. You can also contact our inspectors of ancient monuments and field monument wardens who will answer your questions and provide advice about how best to manage your scheduled monument. cadw@gov.wales

We also visit scheduled monuments and their owners periodically to check the condition of the site and to offer advice on managing the monument. We will contact you before visiting.