Nationally important sites and monuments can be placed on a schedule by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport in order to give them legal protection. A schedule has existed since 1882, but the power to schedule is currently provided for by the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979.
There are more than 200 different classes of scheduled monument (SM). Monuments can include; standing stones, castles, abandoned villages, collieries and so on together with the land in which they are situated or rely on for support and preservation. They will not always be visible.
It is a criminal offence to:
- Destroy or damage a scheduled monument.
- Execute works that would demolish, destroy, damage, remove, repair, alter or add to a scheduled monument without the prior written consent of the Secretary of State.
- Carry out any flooding or tipping operations on land in, on or under which there is such a monument, without the prior written consent of the Secretary of State.
- Use a metal detector on the site of a scheduled monument without prior consent from Historic England.
- Remove any object of archaeological or historical interest which has been discovered by the use of a metal detector without prior consent from Historic England.
Scheduling does not create any new rights of public access and it does not impose an obligation to undertake additional management of the monument. However, owners are encouraged to keep monuments in good condition and there are a range of grant incentive schemes available.
Scheduled monuments can include:
- Buildings, structures or works, above or below ground.
- Caves and excavations.
- Sites of vehicles, vessels, aircraft or other moveable structures.
- Monuments in, on, or under the sea bed.
- Structures occupied as a dwelling house.
- Ecclesiastical buildings in ecclesiastical use.
- Sites protected under the Protection of Wrecks Act 1973.
Monuments can only be scheduled if they are deliberately created structures, features or remains of national importance, and if scheduling is the best means of protection (rather than local planning controls or listing). Historic England have produced detailed guidance for scheduling of different types of monument in different situations.
 The scheduling process
Historic England identifies potential sites in England (the public can make nominations). They then make an assessment of the site and carry out a consultation process, although if there is thought to be a substantial risk of imminent damage or destruction, then a recommendation can be made without consultation.
Decisions are based on:
- Extent of survival.
- Current condition.
- Importance of the period to which the monument dates.
- Connection to other monuments, or group value.
- Potential to contribute to information, understanding and appreciation.
- Extent of documentation enhancing the monument's significance.
Prior written permission (Scheduled Monument Consent or SMC) is required from the Secretary of State to carry out work, either above or below ground to scheduled monuments. Works may also require planning permission but this does not remove the need for Scheduled Monument Consent. Listed buildings will not also require listed building consent.
Consent must be obtained from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport for:
- Works resulting in the demolition or destruction or any damage to a scheduled monument.
- Works for the purpose of removing, repairing, adding to or altering a scheduled monument.
- Flooding or tipping operations on land in, on or under which there is a scheduled monument.
The consent system is administered by Historic England, who advise the Secretary of State on applications. Advice can be obtained by applicants from a local Historic England team and applications should be sent to the local Historic England office. It is advisable to discuss possible works with the Historic England as early as possible, to obtain guidance on the process for application avoid the possibility of unlawful works and avoid delays.
- Archaeological officer.
- Building archaeology.
- Building Preservation Notice.
- Caring for war memorials.
- Certificate of immunity.
- Conservation areas.
- Conservation, climbing and graffiti.
- Conservation officer.
- Designated areas.
- Ecclesiastical exemption.
- 'England's Post-War Listed Buildings'.
- Heritage at Risk Register.
- Historic England.
- Listed buildings.
- Local interest list.
- Planning permission.
- Protection of historic statues, plaques, memorials and monuments.
- Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
- Tree preservation orders.
- Valuing historic buildings.
- VAT - protected buildings.
- What approvals are needed before construction begins.
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