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Carreg Samson

If you intend to carry out work to a scheduled ancient monument, you need to obtain permission — scheduled monument consent — from Cadw, the Welsh Assembly Government’s historic environment service.
The protection and scheduling of historic and prehistoric monuments is an important factor in saving the many thousands of prehistoric sites that still remain in Great Britain. Though these rules may seem only to apply to landowners and farmers, it is up to the vigilance of the public as well, and especially people who seek out and find the  many cromlechs and standing stones still left  in  the more remote areas of Wales to help protect these monuments. It is interesting that included in the scheduling is the ‘setting’ of the monument within the landscape, a relationship that is often recognised by archaeologists with regard to cairns and cromlechs. This setting may acknowledge a place of settlement, a cosmic understanding of the visible/invisible world;  a physical awareness of the grandeur of the hills – some capstones for instance reflect the shape of a facing mountain or crag,  and  also many standing stones may seem to be way markers along a route.

This is but one issue, what of 4x4s or bikers on the trail across the high levels of our hillforts, vulnerable sites are always at risk from the uncaring person, out for a joyride. Also there is the strange habit of walkers to build so-called ‘walker cairns’, on the top of bronze age cairns, is a sad indictment of folly due to ignorance, such ‘summit’ cairns whether old or in some case modern built cairns, confuse the issue and destroy the archaeology of high mountain places. Occasionally bronze age cairns are ‘restored’ by archaeologists but it would be so much easier if stones were left untouched.

Farmers are,  perhaps quite justifiably, confronted with the existence of a scheduled monument in their fields, ploughing becomes difficult, cattle and sheep using cromlechs as shelter do not necessarily please the visitor to the site, visitors walking across fields of animals are not always welcome, respect has to be felt on both sides.

What we see is a small window on the dangers that beset our ancient monuments, no wholesale destruction rather death by small attritions. Protection by the law at least helps but without co-operation from all sides, including the general public such ‘attrition’ wears away the fragile archaeological information that helps give us a better understanding.

 The following is a list from Cadw – the Welsh Assembly Government which gives some of the restrictions and permissions needed under law should any work take place that would seriously effect a scheduled monument. as to the letter of the law, it can be found at this website 

The main purpose of scheduling is to secure the preservation of nationally important ancient monuments. Applications for scheduled monument consent are considered in this light with a presumption against proposals which would cause damage to, significantly alter or affect the setting of such a monument.

What work requires scheduled monument consent;

Section 2(2) of the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
states that consent must be obtained for the following:

Any works resulting in the demolition or destruction of or any damage to a scheduled monument;any works for the purpose of removing or repairing a scheduled monument or any part of it or making any alteration or addition thereto. Any flooding or tipping operations on land in, on or under which there is a scheduled monument.


Coetan Arthur

article and photos by Moss


May 2010

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