Chilton Ridge and Furrow
Ridge and furrow under grassland, Chilton © Historic England
Ridge and furrow under grassland, Chilton © Historic England

Rural Funding

Rural heritage can benefit from programmes that offer advice and funding for the care of heritage in rural settings.

Countryside Stewardship and rural heritage

Since their introduction more than three decades ago, agri-environment schemes have helped to repair and conserve our rural heritage sites.

Much of our designated heritage is on agricultural land. This includes most Scheduled Monuments (78%) and Registered Parks and Gardens (67%), as well as all Registered Battlefields. Most of this in in private ownership.   

Currently four in every ten Scheduled Monuments and nine out of ten Registered Battlefields are looked after through agri-environment funding and a further 45,000 archaeological sites fall within Countryside Stewardship agreements, having been identified as important by local authorities.

Modern agriculture has made many traditional farm buildings largely redundant and uneconomical to repair. A Countryside Stewardship pilot scheme is therefore also currently running within five national parks co-funds the restoration of such buildings for continued agricultural use.

Environmental Land Management

Defra's Future Farming initiative and its flagship new Environmental Land Management (ELM) scheme provide a huge opportunity to create a more sustainable future that avoids or mitigates the impacts of agriculture upon the environment.

ELM will take the place of existing farm support payments made under the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy. Instead, farmers will be rewarded for the environmental benefits that they provide and for making their businesses more sustainable.

Transition to the new schemes is expected to take until 2027. It will contain three main elements – the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery, and Landscape Recovery. Countryside Stewardship will continue in parallel with the piloting of new schemes as part of the transitional arrangements, but it will end for new applications in 2024. Within National Parks and Areas of Natural Beauty the three-year Farming in Protected Landscapes capital scheme will also aid transition. Heritage is figuring prominently within the first round of applications.


Historic England and our colleagues in local government advise on the Countryside Stewardship Scheme using a number of tools. The Selected Heritage Inventory for Natural England (SHINE) is one of them. It's a joint project between Natural England, the Association of local Government Archaeological Officers (ALGAO) and Historic England. Find out more about SHINE

COSMIC: Conservation of Scheduled Monuments in Cultivation

We  also continue to work together with Natural England to identify and prioritise Scheduled Monuments at risk of damage or loss from arable farming. The  COSMIC toolkit will give farmers and heritage managers realistic options for managing the archaeology so that they can either avoid or reduce negative effects of cultivation.  You can download the report about the COSMIC project findings

Further information about Countryside Stewardship can be found in its manuals:
Countryside Stewardship: Mid Tier 
Countryside Stewardship: Higher Tier manual

Related publications

Whilst some parts of the publications below may now be out-of-date, Historic England believes that they still contain useful advice, guidance and case studies for farm advisers and heritage managers. All of these land types and sites may be managed under Countryside Stewardship:

Also of interest

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