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 fourteen members who span a wide range of experience and expertise in archaeology, historic monuments and cultural heritage. The role of HMC is to advise the Department on, inter alia, 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.
HMC also offers advice to other government departments through Historic Environment Division and PlanningNI.
HMC's role as a statutory advisor is, in summary, to advise:
- on adding to or removing any monument in or from the schedule
- the Historic Environment Division 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 HMC is also consulted on Planning Policy Statements (PPS), Development Plans and planning applications.
The main function of HMC as a statutory advisor is to be consulted on and endorse the DOE proposals on the scheduling of monuments. Currently there are some 15,000 scheduled monuments.
The criteria for Scheduled Monuments in PPS6 can be found at the PlanningNI website
A list of scheduled monuments under the Sites and Monuments Record can be found on the DOE website
Monuments in State Care
On occasions DOE will acquire monuments in order to ensure their preservation and provide effective management. These monuments are known as Monuments in State Care and presently there are some 181 of these monuments.
A list of monuments in state care under the Sites and Monuments Record is available on the following page:
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. HMC is consulted by Historic Monuments 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 ad hoc meetings to consider specific policy issues and additions to scheduled lists.
From time to time the 3 Statutory Advisory Councils to the Department, that is, Council for Nature Conservation and the Countryside (CNCC), Historic Buildings Council (HBC) and HMC take part in joint meetings to consider areas of mutual interest.
Membership is sought through public advertisement and appointments are made in accordance with the Nolan Principles and ratified by the Minister for the Environment. 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 14 members of the council including a Chairman.
HMC assigns a number of sub-groups who meet on an ad hoc basis and respond to consultation papers from government. HMC participates in a number of other sub-groups and committees within NIEA which consider specific aspects of the built heritage.
On occasions a representative will be asked to sit on other sub-groups outside the Department.
Joint Committee of Industrial Heritage
A number of members of HMC together with some members of its sister body, HBC, form the Joint Committee of Industrial Heritage 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 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
This Committee normally meets quarterly.
Archaeological Research Group
Council established this sub-group in 2004 to find a way forward for improved co-ordination for archaeological research in NI.
Buildings Awareness Group
HBC and NIEA staff formed a joint working group to promote awareness of built heritage so that the many buildings and structures can be highlighted and protected for future generations.
Contact information for the Historic Monument Council is available on the following DOE page: