To protect archaeological sites for future generations, the most valuable of them may be scheduled. Scheduling is the system which gives legal protection to nationally important archaeological sites in England by placing them on a list, or 'schedule'. English Heritage takes the lead in identifying sites in England which should be placed on the schedule by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. A schedule has been kept since 1882 of monuments whose preservation is given priority over other land uses. The current legislation, the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979, supports a formal system of Scheduled Monument Consent for any work to a designated monument.
Scheduled monument consent
A monument which has been scheduled is protected against disturbance or unlicensed metal detecting. The Secretary of State must be informed about any work which might affect a monument above or below ground, and English Heritage gives advice to the Government on each application. In assessing each application, the Secretary of State will try to ensure that damage done to protected sites is kept to a minimum. Written consent must always be obtained before any work can begin. Application forms are available from any regional office of English Heritage. Some development may also need planning permission.
It is against the law to:
- Damage a scheduled monument by carrying out works without consent;
- cause reckless or deliberate damage;
- use a metal detector or remove an object found with one without a licence from English Heritage.
Conviction for these offences can lead to fines.