Historic Environment Division (HED) policy statement regarding dogs on State Care Monuments

Historic Environment Division (HED) manages circa 186 State Care Monuments throughout Northern Ireland, most of which the public have access to. These include an array of castles, historic buildings, and open sites. Visitor numbers available indicate approximately 800,000 recorded visits per year.

Customer care

HED is committed to delivering a high standard of customer care by providing visitors to its properties with a safe and enjoyable experience.  However, this must be balanced by HED’s statutory obligation to protect the integrity of all its monuments.

HED recognises that part of the appeal of many of its sites is the open space experience which they can offer. This can be particularly attractive to dog owners who may otherwise have limited opportunities to exercise their dogs in open spaces. However, HED also recognises that dogs which are not properly controlled can impair the visitor experience.  At times some dogs can be dangerous; they can alarm or annoy other site users; damage the fabric of a monument; present a health risk; and that dog faeces, at any of HED’s sites, incur additional clean up costs and spoil a visit.

Dog policy at Department for Communities Historic Environment properties

Visitors’ dogs will be permitted at all HED properties and sites subject to the exceptions listed below. Dogs will not be permitted access to the following areas at sites: visitor centres; enclosed roofed structures; and areas where there is a specific Health & Safety hazard.

Assistance Dogs will be permitted in all parts of all sites, including visitor centres.

Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times and should not be left unattended. This includes in parked vehicles that are on Historic Environment Division property.

A no fouling rule applies at all properties – owners must clean up after their dogs.

Owners are asked to be sensitive to the effect of their dogs on others, especially children.

Dog owners are encouraged to obey the countryside code. Visitors should therefore NOT bring dogs to HED sites where access is via fields where livestock are kept.

In cases of non-compliance with its Dog Management Policy, HED reserves the right:

  • to report the dog owner to the local dog warden;
  • to require offenders to leave its sites; and
  • to refuse future admission with dogs.

Sites where dogs are not permitted (with the exception of assistance dogs)

Reasons for refusal are:

  • roofed/enclosed structure including visitor centres,
  • where there are specific Health and Safety hazards.

County Antrim
Carrickfergus Castle
Carrickfergus Gasworks
Dunluce Castle

County Down
Audley’s Castle
Ballycopeland Windmill
Duneight Motte & Bailey
Greypoint Fort
Jordan’s Castle
Kilclief Castle
Kirkistown Castle
Scrabo Tower
Narrow Water Castle
Newtownards Priory

County Fermanagh
Monea Castle

County Londonderry
Bellaghy Bawn

In additional, visitors must refrain from bringing dogs to HED sites where access is through fields where livestock are grazing.

For more information please refer to NI Direct guidelines:

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