State Care sites and monuments are those in the ownership or guardianship of the Department. They represent all periods of human settlement in Northern Ireland from around 7,000 BC to the 20th century, and include some of the premier examples of monument types in the region.

The first monuments were taken into care by the state in 1869 and there are now 190 single, groups or complexes of sites and monuments managed by us.

Many of our sites are open to the public, although some may be temporarily closed to allow works to take place, or for the protection of the site. 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. The most popular visited sites, such as Dunluce Castle and Carrickfergus Castle, are staffed throughout the year and have dedicated visitor facilities. Some sites will have a dedicated guide during the summer months and may or may not have visitor facilities. For more information please see our places to visit or download the full list:

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.

The team aims to carry out conservation schemes on a number of historic monuments each year. Works are prioritised through a range of criteria including:

  • condition
  • 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 Burra Charter.

Traditional building craft skills in Ireland

The Traditional Building Craft Skills in Ireland report has identified a serious skills and knowledge gap in the built heritage sector.

To address this issue we are working with the National Training Group to research the skills base currently existing in Northern Ireland.

Structure and contacts

View the Historic Environment Division structure and contacts

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