A scheduled monument is an historic building or site that is included in the Schedule of Monuments kept by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The regime is set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (1).
The designation cannot be applied to an ecclesiastical building in ecclesiastical use or to a building in use as a dwelling, unless the person living there is employed as a caretaker of the site. Buildings in use for non-residential purposes may be scheduled.
The Schedule of Monuments has 19,854 entries (2016) and includes sites such as Roman remains, burial mounds, castles, bridges, earthworks, the remains of deserted villages and industrial sites. Monuments are not graded, but all are, by definition, considered to be of national importance. The Schedule can be viewed online on the National Heritage List for England and physically inspected at the Historic England Archive in Swindon. Scheduled Monuments may also appear on the local Historic Environment Record.
Once a monument is scheduled any works to it, and flooding and tipping operations that might affect it, with few exceptions require scheduled monument consent from the Secretary of State, (not the local planning authority). Historic England manages the process of scheduled monument consent on behalf of the Secretary of State. Metal detecting on a Scheduled Monument is also illegal without a licence from Historic England.
For historical reasons, a few buildings are both scheduled and listed. In such a case the scheduled monument statutory regime applies and the listed building regime does not. The Secretary of State will review dually designated heritage assets over time with a view to producing a single, rationalised designation for each asset.
A monument is:
- any building, structure or work, whether above or below the surface of the land and any cave or excavation;
- any site comprising the remains of any such building, structure or work of any cave or excavation;
- any site comprising, or comprising the remains of, any vehicle vessel, aircraft or other movable structure provided the situation of that object or its remains in that particular site is a matter of public interest (3).
The protected site of a monument may also include any land adjoining it essential for its support and preservation (4). Any machinery attached to a monument shall be regarded as part of the monument if it could not be detached without being dismantled (3).
Monuments situated in, on or under the seabed within the seaward limits of United Kingdom territorial waters adjacent to England may be scheduled (5).
Selection of monuments for scheduling
If a monument is of national importance it may be scheduled. The Secretary of State has a broad discretion as to what to schedule and will be concerned not only with the national importance of it but also if scheduling would assist the site's conservation.
The decision as to whether the monument is of national importance is guided by the folllowing criteria set out by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (3):
- Documentation supporting the monument’s significance
- Group value with other heritage assets
- Fragility/vulnerability – suggesting a need for protection
- Diversity of the attributes the monument holds
- Potential of the monument to tell us more about our past through archaeological investigation.
Extent of a scheduled monument
Most scheduled monument entries contain a map. Protection is offered to everything that forms part of the land and buildings within the map boundary unless expressly excluded, as some features are, such as modern-day road surfaces.
The protection extends not just to known structures or remains but also to the soil under or around them. This is in order to protect any archaeological interest in the site, but the extent of the protection is not dependant on there being such an interest.