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Ancient / Guardianship monument
- The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 defines a
monument as, "any building, structure or work, whether above or below the surface of the land,
and any cave or excavation" or any site comprising the remains of such things or comprising any
"vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other movable structure or part thereof." A scheduled monument is
any monument included in the schedule to the act. Once scheduled, consent for any works is
required from the Secretary of State. The site of a monument includes any adjoining land, which
may be considered important to the monument's wellbeing. Most scheduled monuments are
archaeological sites or
ruined buildings. Ecclesiastical buildings in use or inhabited buildings
cannot be scheduled. Not all ancient monuments are scheduled, the term "ancient monument"
actually has a wider meaning which includes both scheduled monuments and any other
monument which the Secretary of State decides is of national importance. Buildings can be both
scheduled and listed, in
which case, somewhat controversially, the need to apply for scheduled
monument consent takes precedence. Guardianship monuments are monuments in the care of
the Secretary of State.
The term "scheduled" derives from the fact that the first ancient monuments were contained in
a schedule to the Ancient Monuments Act of 1882. Britain is the only country that operates a
separate system for monuments and listed buildings. While controversial, there is a strong
presumption that ancient monuments cannot be altered in any way, which avoids confusion
which could arise if scheduling and listing were combined. Also, listing cannot be applied to
such as caves, ships etc which can enjoy the protection of scheduling.