scheduled sites scheduled sites
Last year marked the 70th anniversary of the 1947 Town and Country Planning Act, which gave birth to the protected status of listed buildings (see CA 332). There are other acts of designation, though, that can be used by the government to protect historic sites. Here Joe Flatman explores some of the more unusual sites and structures recently scheduled by DCMS, on the advice of Historic England, under the 1979 Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act.
The history of scheduling is nearly as old as the modern discipline of archaeology itself. An in-depth account of the processes that led to its birth can be found in Simon Thurley’s book The Men from the Ministry (reviewed in CA 282), but in brief: the current legislation, which dates to 1979, is merely the most recent iteration of a chain of Acts of Parliament designed to safeguard historic sites, beginning in 1882 with the Ancient Monuments Protection Act. This development also heralded the appointment of the firstever Inspector of Ancient Monuments (a role that survives to this day within Historic England): the archaeological polymath General Augustus Pitt Rivers.
The fledgling Schedule – civil servant speak for ‘list’ – drawn up was only short, covering 22 English sites, four in Wales, 21 in Scotland (many of which are now in the care of Historic Scotland), and 18 across the whole of Ireland, with an overwhelming emphasis on prehistoric monuments. Among these, Kit’s 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, and, as of early 2018, the Schedule of Monuments has expanded to encompass just shy of 20,000 sites (now exclusively English, but spread across every county), ranging in date from deep prehistory to the late 20th century. It features locations from the famous – such as the celebrated early Mesolithic settlement of Star Carr, Yorkshire (List entry 1401425) – to the infamous, including a 1980s cruise-missile shelter complex at Greenham Common Airbase in Berkshire (List entry 1021040). As of 2011, the Schedule has been incorporated into the larger National Heritage List for England that contains fully searchable online details of over 400,000 listed and scheduled sites; registered parks, gardens, and battlefields; and protected wrecks. Behind the scenes Scheduling in 2018 is an utterly different process, with equally different results, to that of even ten years ago, let alone over a century. At its heart lies the same question, though, as much philosophical as practical, of what above Kit’s Coty House, a Neolithic monument in Kent. In 1883 it became the first archaeological site to be legally protected through scheduling.
management outcome is desired for an historic site. Scheduling protects a site under law, and as a consequence ensures the involvement of national organisations such as Historic England in its care. But such involvement is not always deemed necessary to get a positive outcome for a site: many thousands of sites are better managed through the planning system, for example, with the intervention, as necessary, of local authority archaeological officers. Some extremely important sites are also recognised as being of the same level of significance to scheduled sites, but they are under such effective management – including, in some cases, active investigation – that they are better left unscheduled, in order not to overburden their owners/investigators.
How does it work? Assuming that scheduling is considered to be at least a possibility, the actual process follows much the same careful flow as considerations for protection under all of the acts of parliament that Historic England advises on – listing, scheduling, the protection of wrecks, and the registration of parks,