The first monuments were taken into care by the state in 1869 and there are now 186 single, groups or complexes of sites and monuments managed by us.
Visiting State Care Monuments
Many of our sites are open to the public, although some may be temporarily closed due to COVID-19 restrictions, works taking place, or for the protection of the site.
For an update on sites you can visit during the COVID-19 pandemic, go to:
In some cases, at our more remote monuments, public access is not yet available and we have an ongoing programme to provide or enhance access to these sites.
Some of the most popular visited sites, such as Carrickfergus Castle and Dunluce Castle, are staffed throughout the year and have dedicated visitor facilities. At the Derry Walls, facilities are provided in the adjacent Visitor Information Centre.
Some of our sites are open seasonally due to ongoing partnerships with other organisations and agreements with local volunteer groups and temporary guides;
Visitor Safety and Responsibility
Our State Care Monuments are amongst the best known historic landmarks and tourist destinations in Northern Ireland. The Department’s Historic Environment Division encourages visitors to explore these special and unique sites responsibly.
We have been working hard to identify the risks and have installed Health & Safety signs at the majority of our State Care Monuments to date to help you make informed decisions and make your visit safe and enjoyable. However, your safety is also your responsibility and you should ensure to research all the available information and exercise caution in order to stay safe and have a memorable experience.
There are some basic rules for visitors to State Care Monuments to follow;
- children and vulnerable adults should be supervised at all times
- dogs must be kept under control on a lead while on site
- always follow The Countryside Code
Please note, that State Care Monuments are protected under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Object (NI) Order 1995 and any interference with the monument may result in prosecution and criminal conviction.
Maintenance of State Care Monuments
We currently have a team of specialists dedicated to the maintenance of our State Care Monuments. This includes regionally-based work crews, joiners, blacksmiths and stone masons for example.
The team aims to carry out conservation schemes on a number of historic monuments each year. These works are prioritised through a range of criteria including:
- age and importance
- public access
- health and safety issues
All work to State Care Monuments conforms to best conservation practice, i.e. minimum intervention, maximum retention of historic fabric, clarity of new work, reversibility and sustainability. These best practice guidelines can be found in the Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter, 2013.
Hiring a State Care Monument
Full information about hiring and using a State Care Monument is available on the page