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What is a Scheduled Ancient Monument?
A Scheduled Ancient Monument (SAM) is a designation given to an historic site or monument in the United Kingdom which is considered to be of national importance and is therefore subject to special legal protection. These sites are considered to be “scheduled” because they are included in a list known as the Schedule of Ancient Monuments, which is maintained by the British government.
Scheduled Ancient Monuments can include a wide range of sites, including standing stones, prehistoric tombs, castles, forts, and other historic structures. The designation is meant to provide legal protection for these sites, so that they can be preserved for future generations to enjoy. This means that it is illegal to carry out any works on a Scheduled Ancient Monument without first obtaining the appropriate permission from the government.
Scheduled Ancient Monuments are designated by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, on the advice of Historic England (previously known as English Heritage). Sites can be designated as SAMs if they are considered to be of significant historical, architectural, or archaeological interest, and if they are considered to be at risk of damage or destruction.
The protection afforded to SAMs is designed to ensure that these important sites are preserved for future generations and that their significance is recognized and appreciated. The protection includes restrictions on development and the carrying out of works, such as building or digging, that could damage or destroy the site.
There are over 20,000 SAMs in England, covering a wide range of sites, including prehistoric tombs and monuments, Roman ruins, medieval castles, and post-medieval industrial sites. Many of these sites are open to the public and provide important opportunities for learning and enjoyment.
The designation of a site as a SAM is an important recognition of its national significance, and it provides a level of protection that helps to ensure that these important sites are preserved for future generations. If you are interested in visiting a SAM, or learning more about the sites that are protected in this way, you can visit the Historic England website for more information.
Is there a Register of Scheduled Ancient Monuments?
A register is maintained by Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage), which is a public body responsible for the protection and promotion of the historic environment in England.
The register contains a list of all the sites that have been designated as Scheduled Ancient Monuments, along with details of their location, history, and significance. The information in the register is updated regularly, and new sites are added to the list as they are discovered or as their importance is recognized.
The register of Scheduled Ancient Monuments is a crucial tool for the preservation of England’s rich cultural heritage, and it provides an important record of the country’s history and the stories of its people. It is available to the public and can be searched online, allowing people to learn more about the ancient monuments in their local area and throughout England.
You can find the register of Scheduled Ancient Monuments on the Historic England website here: https://www.historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/search-the-list/
On this page, you can search for Scheduled Ancient Monuments by location, period, and type of monument, among other criteria. The register is constantly being updated, and new sites are added to the list as they are discovered or as their importance is recognized, so it is a good idea to check back regularly to see what new sites have been added.
What makes a monument important enough to be included in the register?
A monument is considered important enough to be included in the register of Scheduled Ancient Monuments if it is deemed to be of national importance. This means that it is considered to be of significant historical, archaeological, architectural, or cultural value to the nation as a whole.
The criteria used to determine whether a monument should be included in the register are based on (among other factors) its
- Diversity of design
- Degree of intactness
For example, a monument that is considered to be one of the best examples of a particular type of architecture or that is of particular historical significance is more likely to be included in the register.
In general, the designation of a site as a Scheduled Ancient Monument is based on a professional assessment of its significance by experts in archaeology, history, and architecture. This assessment takes into account the monument’s historical context, its architectural or design features, and its rarity or uniqueness.
Once a monument has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, it is afforded a high level of legal protection, and it is illegal to carry out any works on the site without first obtaining the appropriate permission from the government. This helps to ensure that the site is preserved for future generations to enjoy and learn from.
What are some examples of Scheduled Ancient Monuments?
Some famous examples in the United Kingdom are:
- Stonehenge: This world-famous monument is one of the best-known examples of prehistoric architecture in the world, and is considered to be of exceptional national importance.
- Hadrian’s Wall: This ancient Roman wall marked the northern boundary of the Roman Empire in England and is considered to be of great historical significance.
- The Tower of London: This historic castle and former royal palace has been designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument due to its exceptional historical, architectural, and cultural significance.
- The Roman Baths: These ancient Roman bathhouses in the city of Bath are considered to be of exceptional national importance for their historical and architectural significance.
- Avebury Stone Circle: This prehistoric stone circle in Wiltshire is considered to be one of the largest and most important prehistoric monuments in Europe, and is of exceptional national importance.
- The Long Man of Wilmington: The Long Man of Wilmington is a large hill figure located in Wilmington, East Sussex, England.
There are many more sites of historical and cultural significance throughout the country, each with its own unique story to tell.
Is the British Museum involved with the Scheduled Ancient Monument register?
The British Museum is one of the world’s largest and most important museums, and it holds a vast collection of artifacts and objects from across the globe, including many important examples of ancient and historic art, architecture, and archaeology.
There is no direct connection between the British Museum and the register of Scheduled Ancient Monuments in the United Kingdom. However, the British Museum does have an important role to play in the study and preservation of the country’s cultural heritage.
The museum works closely with other organizations and institutions, including Historic England (formerly known as English Heritage), to preserve and protect the country’s cultural heritage. For example, the museum may provide expert advice and support to help identify and designate sites as Scheduled Ancient Monuments, or it may provide loans or assistance with the conservation of artifacts and objects from these sites.
So while the British Museum is not directly connected to the register of Scheduled Ancient Monuments, it does play an important role in the preservation and protection of the country’s cultural heritage, and it is an important resource for those interested in learning about the history and archaeology of the United Kingdom.