The Historic Monuments Council (HMC) was first established in 1971 under the provisions of the Historic Monuments (Northern Ireland) Act 1971. Its current authority is derived from the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 (the Order). Its roots rest in the Ancient Monuments Advisory Council 1926-1970.
The Council is made up of 14 members who span a wide range of experience and expertise in archaeology, historic monuments and cultural heritage. The role of the HMC includes advising the Department on the scheduling of monuments, conservation of monuments in state care, maritime archaeology, industrial and defence heritage and Areas of Significant Archaeological Interest within Development Plans.
The Council may also offer advice to other government departments.
In 2016 the Council co-hosted a symposium along with the Historic Buildings Council and the Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside.
- Historic Monuments Council for Northern Ireland: 3rd Report 2012-2019
- Future Places Using Heritage to build communities symposium
- Review of the Historic Buildings Council and the Historic Monuments Council
The Historic Monuments Council's role as a statutory advisor is, in summary, to advise;
- on adding to or removing any monument in or from the schedule
- the Department in the exercise of its powers under the Order and to exercise other functions conferred under Part II relating to scheduled monuments and scheduled monument consent (including matters relating to the preservation and conservation of monuments in state care, industrial heritage, defence heritage and maritime heritage)
- on the disposal of any land acquired under Article 13, 14, or 18 (a monument or land in the vicinity thereof)
- on the making of regulations providing for application for Scheduled Monument Consent
In addition to the provisions of this legislation, the Council is also consulted on Planning Policy, Development Plans and planning applications.
The main function of Historic Monuments Council as a statutory advisor is to be consulted on and endorse the Department’s proposals on the scheduling of historic monuments. Currently there are some 15,000 scheduled historic monuments.
On occasions, the Department will acquire monuments in order to ensure their preservation and provide effective management. These monuments are known as Monuments in State Care.
There are currently around 190 Monuments in State Care. A list of these monuments is available to view;
Scheduling can also apply to maritime archaeology, the industrial heritage and structures of the defence heritage.
Archaeological Sites and Monuments
Areas of Special Archaeological Interest are non-statutory designations but are included in the Department's Development Plans and seek to identify distinctive areas of the historic landscape in Northern Ireland.
The Historic Monuments Council is consulted by DfC’s Historic Environment Division on the designation of these sites. The preservation of an archaeological site or monument; and its setting, is a material consideration in determining planning applications.
The Council normally meets on a bi-monthly basis with additional meetings arranged as required to consider specific policy issues and additions to scheduled lists.
From time to time, the two Statutory Advisory Councils to the Department, the Historic Monuments Council and the Historic Buildings Council (HBC) will hold joint meetings to consider areas of mutual interest.
Membership is sought through public advertisement and appointments are made in accordance with the Nolan Principles, ratified by the Minister for Communities.
The term of appointment is for a five year period but members may be eligible for re-appointment subject to satisfactory service.
Currently there are 12 members of the council including its Chairperson.
The Historic Monuments Council assigns a number of sub-groups who meet on an ad hoc basis and respond to consultation papers from government.
The Council participates in a number of other sub-groups and committees within the Department’s Historic Environment Division which consider specific aspects of the built heritage.
On occasions a representative will be asked to sit on other sub-groups outside of the Department for Communities.
Joint Committee of Industrial Heritage
A Joint Committee of Industrial Heritage is made up of a number of members from the Historic Monuments Council (HMC) and the Historic Buildings Council (HBC) in order to;
- consider and make recommendations on the protection, conservation and recording of industrial sites and structures in Northern Ireland
- consider and be responsible for advising on cases referred to it by HMC, HBC and the Department’s Historic Environment Division
- promote the recording and protection of structures connected with the defence heritage in Northern Ireland
- encourage research and publication
- promote interest in industrial heritage
The Joint Committee of Industrial Heritage normally meets quarterly.
Archaeological Research Group
This sub-group of the Historic Monuments Council is aimed at finding a way forward for improved co-ordination for archaeological research in Northern Ireland.