Scheduled Historic Monuments

Monuments may be scheduled for protection under Article 3 of The Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. It is an offence to carry out changes to such structures without consent from the Department.

Over 2000 Scheduled Historic Monuments

There are over 2000 Scheduled Historic Monuments in Northern Ireland, which represent aspects of human interaction with our landscape over some 10,000 years. These places connect us directly to our past. They include many prehistoric sites, forts, churches, castles, maritime sites, and also more recent industrial and defence heritage. The aim of scheduling is to preserve as far as possible our most significant sites in the condition that they were passed down to us today. An up to date list of Scheduled Historic Monuments is published annually online.

Hard copies of the schedule can also be viewed in the  Historic Environment Record of Northern Ireland (HERoNI)

The process of scheduling is undertaken by the Division’s Heritage Records and Designations Branch. They constantly reassess understanding of the  historic monuments as our knowledge increases due to new discoveries and research. Scheduling is different from listing and operates under separate legislation. Monuments are selected for scheduling on the basis of published criteria.

Scheduled Monument Consent

Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) from the Department is required for any changes to a Scheduled Historic Monument. Under Article 4 of The Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 this is defined as:

  • any works resulting in the demolition, destruction, or disturbance of, or any damage to a scheduled monument
  • any works for the purpose of removing or repairing a scheduled monument or any part of it or of making any alterations or additions thereto
  • any flooding or tipping operations on land in, or under which, there is a scheduled monument

There is no provision for granting retrospective Scheduled Monument Consent and it would be an offence to carry out these works without having been granted consent in advance. 

Archaeological excavation works, and the use of detecting devices are subject to Scheduled Monument Consent. It is an offence to be in possession of a detecting device on a scheduled monument without the prior written consent of the Department for Communities.

Apply for Scheduled Monument Consent;

Where you believe intended works may have an impact on a Scheduled Monument, or its statutorily designated area, you are strongly advised to contact the Department for informal discussion at an early stage.

It is important that sufficient information is included with your application to enable a full understanding and assessment of the proposal. If there is insufficient detail your application may be returned.

The Department aims to issue a final decision on Scheduled Monument Consent within 12 weeks of the receipt of an application with sufficient information. Initially, a provisional decision will issue in order that you can decide whether you wish to appeal to the Planning Appeals Commission. The final decision will issue 10 days later.  

Class Consents

Certain works have been defined in the Historic Monuments (Class Consents) Order (Northern Ireland) 2001 as already having consent.

These cover;

  • certain agricultural works
  • maintaining a canal
  • works urgently necessary for health and safety
  • works carried out as management agreements

Scheduled Monument Consent and Other Permissions

Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) is required for any works in the scheduled area, regardless of whether planning permission or other permissions have been sought or obtained.

Planning Permission is a separate matter where applicants should apply to the relevant district council. The level and type of detail required in making an application for Scheduled Monument Consent may differ from what would be required applying for a Planning application.

The SMC process may run in parallel with the statutory Planning process, and such cases are dealt with most effectively if the applications for Scheduled Monument Consent and Planning Permission are prepared at the same time following early discussions with the Department’s Historic Environment Division.

Where both Scheduled Monument Consent and Planning Permission are being sought for a proposal, the SMC must be determined first.

Looking after your scheduled monument

Owners and occupiers of scheduled monuments play a core role in managing our heritage and through their care we will all be able to enjoy these important sites now and in the future. Scheduled monuments will be visited every four years by a Field Monument Warden, who will check the condition of the monument and provide advice on how best to look after it. Often a little basic advice or maintenance can help to avoid some of the most common problems, such as ploughing too close to a monument or cattle erosion which can damage buried archaeological remains. Support may be available for repair and interpretation works from the Historic Environment Fund.

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