A dark cave-like structure under a large overhanging rock. Stone walls are built into the surrounding structure.
Lower Boscaswell Fogou, Pendeen, Cornwall © Historic England Archive Dp326103 Visit the list entry for Lower Boscaswell Fogou.
Lower Boscaswell Fogou, Pendeen, Cornwall © Historic England Archive Dp326103 Visit the list entry for Lower Boscaswell Fogou.

What Are Scheduled Monuments?

Scheduling is the selection of nationally important archaeological sites. These sites can include standing stones, burial mounds, the remains of monastic buildings and more. They can be above or below ground and can include remains as well as structures that are still in-use. Although archaeology and important historic sites are all around us, monuments are added to the Schedule if the Secretary of State considers that they are of national importance and that the protection which comes with scheduling would assist the monument’s conservation.

The record of all monuments contained on the Schedule of Monuments is hosted on the National Heritage List for England (known as the List, or the NHLE). The NHLE is a publicly available, searchable database that contains information on England’s protected heritage. There are other forms of protection and recognition for heritage included on the NHLE, including listed buildings and registered parks and gardens. 


What is scheduling? 

Scheduling is our oldest form of heritage protection. It began in 1913, although its roots go as far back as the 1882 Ancient Monuments Protection Act, when a 'Schedule' (hence the term ‘scheduling’) of almost exclusively prehistoric monuments deserving of state protection was first compiled. Scheduling includes a wide range of sites and structures including fogous (tunnels found in West Cornwall from the Iron Age and Romano-British period), First World War training trenches and Anglo-Saxon burial mounds. 

While some deliberate change to a monument may be possible, there is a presumption that they will be handed on to future generations in much the same state (or a better state) than we have found them. As a result, Scheduled Monument Consent is needed to carry out works to a Scheduled Monument. Scheduling derives its authority from the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act of 1979. Under the terms of this Act, the Secretary of State has a duty to compile and maintain a schedule of ancient monuments of national importance. 

We often use the word ‘listing’ as shorthand for other forms of designation including scheduling – for instance whilst our online application form is called the ‘Listing Application Form’ it is the same form used to apply for scheduling. 

What are the criteria for scheduling monuments and sites?

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport’s document Scheduled Monuments & nationally important but non-scheduled monuments (2013) sets out the non-statutory criteria for assessing the importance of a monument and considering whether it should be scheduled. The policy of the Secretary of State is to select Scheduled Monuments on the basis of their archaeological or historical interest; their management needs may also be taken into account. Some sites are not suitable for scheduling, for instance buildings that people live in.

Archaeological interest is about the potential interest in carrying out expert investigations at some point into the evidence places hold, or potentially may hold, of past human activity. Monuments with archaeological interest form a primary source of evidence relating to the substance and evolution of places, plus the people and cultures that made them. 

Historic interest is about how the present can be connected through a place to past people, events and aspects of life. Monuments with historic interest provide a material record of our nation’s prehistory and history, whether by association or through illustration. 

These principles should not be considered definitive, but as indicators that contribute to a broader judgment based on individual circumstances. Other factors, such as the contribution of monuments to the character of today’s landscape or the historic landscape, can also be important considerations. 

Even nationally important sites are scheduled only if this is the best means of protecting them. Sometimes, for example in town and city centres, the most practical way to protect sites - from building development and road schemes - is to use the system of local authority control over planning applications. Local Planning Authorities can make sure that development proposals take archaeology fully into account. 

Buildings and standing structures of historic interest are also generally best protected by listing. Our aim is to recommend the most appropriate form of protection in place for the building or site to the Secretary of State. 

There is guidance available on a wide range of sites in our series of Scheduling Selection Guides. These guides are divided into categories ranging from Agriculture to Utilities and complement the listing selection guides for buildings. In each guide, a historical introduction is followed by a consideration of protection issues, together with sources of further information. It should be noted that in scheduling decisions the Department for Culture, Media & Sport’s 2013 document referred to above takes precedence over the scheduling selection guides. 


Please click on the gallery images to enlarge.

How many scheduled monuments are there? 

There are almost 20,000 entries for scheduled monuments on the National Heritage List for England (NHLE). 

Some entries on the NHLE cover multiple monuments with a relationship to each other, so the exact number is likely to be much higher 

Looking after scheduled monuments

Scheduling does not imply that monuments are being poorly managed or that they are under threat and it does not impose a legal obligation to undertake any additional management of the monument. If required, we may be able to help you with expert advice, often from our locally based Heritage at Risk Project Officers. 

If you are the owner of a scheduled monument (or are acting on behalf of the owner) and you wish to carry out works to the monument, you will need to apply for prior written permission from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. This is for works either above or below ground level. The procedure is known as Scheduled Monument Consent or SMC. 'Works' are defined by the 1979 Act as demolishing, destroying, damaging, removing, repairing, altering, adding to, flooding or tipping material onto the monument. To avoid the possibility of damaging a monument, and therefore carrying out unlawful works, you are strongly advised to consult us while in the early planning stages of any intended works. 

Certain development works to your property may require planning permission from your local authority but obtaining planning permission does not remove the need for Scheduled Monument Consent. 

Carrying out works to a scheduled monument without a grant of Scheduled Monument Consent is a criminal offence. Metal detecting on a scheduled monument is also a criminal offence without a licence from Historic England.

Scheduling does not affect your freehold title or other legal interests in the land. If a monument is scheduled this does not give the general public any new rights of public access. A good general rule with archaeological sites is the less disturbance of the ground the better. 

Did you know?

  • Scheduled monuments are not always ancient, or visible above ground.
  • There are over 200 categories of monuments on the schedule.
  • Monuments on the schedule range from prehistoric standing stones and burial mounds, through to the many types of medieval site - castles, monasteries, abandoned farmsteads and villages - to the more recent results of human activity, such as collieries.
  • Only deliberately created structures, features and remains can be scheduled.
  • Kits Coty House, a Neolithic long barrow in Kent, was the first site to be legally protected when it was taken into state guardianship in 1883 on what became the Schedule of Monuments.
  • The physical remains of Cold War infrastructure can be found across the country. Some of these sites may be scheduled, such as the Cruise missile shelter complex at Greenham Common Airbase. During the 1980s the complex became known internationally as the site of the Greenham Common Women’s Peace Camp, a major protest against the siting of cruise missiles. The Women’s Peace Camp inspired similar action for nuclear disarmament across Europe and further afield.

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