Scheduled Monuments

A scheduled monument is a building, structure, or work whether above or below the surface of the land, and any cave or excavation or any site comprising the remains of any such building, structure or work or any cave or excavation included on the Schedule of Monuments found on the National Heritage List for England which is maintained by Historic England on behalf of the Secretary of State for DCMS. The regime for scheduling is set out in the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 (ref. 1). 

The Schedule of Monuments has almost 20,000 entries (2020) 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. Scheduled monuments may also appear on the local Historic Environment Record. 

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.

Applications to schedule or deschedule a monument are administered by Historic England, who will carry out an assessment and make a recommendation to the Secretary of State.

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.

Monuments

A scheduled monument must fall within the statutory definition of a 'monument' and its heritage interest must be nationally important (ref. 2).

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 (ref. 3)

The protected site of a monument may also include any land adjoining it essential for its support and preservation (ref. 4). Any machinery attached to a monument shall be regarded as part of the monument if it could not be detached without being dismantled (ref. 3).

Monuments situated in, on or under the seabed within the seaward limits of United Kingdom territorial waters adjacent to Great Britain may be scheduled (ref. 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 (ref. 6):

  1. Period
  2. Rarity
  3. Documentation/finds
  4. Group value 
  5. Survival/condition
  6. Fragility/vulnerability
  7. Diversity 
  8. Potential

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 and any adjacent land which is essential to support or preserve the monument (ref. 7). 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.