A History of the National Heritage Collection, Volume One: 1882-1900 Lt. General Augustus Pitt-Rivers and the First Ancient Monuments Act

Author(s): Sebastian Fry

This is Volume One in a series of eight research reports, which describe the formation of the national collection of ancient monuments and historic buildings from 1882 to 1983, in the context of legislation and other means of protecting heritage. This report covers the period from 1882 to 1900. The late 19th century saw the birth of heritage protection in Britain through the passing of the Ancient Monuments Protection Act in 1882. In its final form the Act was shorn of many of its original provisions, including any compulsory measures of protection upon landowners. Protection was confined to taking archaeological sites into State care through the process of ‘guardianship’. This allowed owners to voluntarily hand their monuments over to be managed by the Government whilst retaining the freehold. The first guardianship sites were almost exclusively prehistoric monuments. An Inspector of Ancient Monuments; Lt. General Augustus Pitt-Rivers, was appointed to oversee their protection. The period is characterised by difficulties in working the Act partly due to a lack of political will and public interest. However an important precedent was set and by the turn of the century several groups were campaigning for better heritage protection.

Report Number:
Research Department Reports


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