Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 or AMAAA was a law passed by the British
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 government, the latest in a series of Ancient Monument Acts legislating to protect the archaeological
Archaeology, or archeology , is the study of human society, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data that they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes...

Cultural heritage
Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations...

 of Great Britain
Great Britain
Great Britain or Britain is an island situated to the northwest of Continental Europe. It is the ninth largest island in the world, and the largest European island, as well as the largest of the British Isles...

. Northern Ireland has its own legislation.

Section 61(12) defines sites that warrant protection due to their being of national importance as 'ancient monuments'. These can be either Scheduled Ancient Monument
Scheduled Ancient Monument
In the United Kingdom, a scheduled monument is a 'nationally important' archaeological site or historic building, given protection against unauthorized change. The various pieces of legislation used for legally protecting heritage assets from damage and destruction are grouped under the term...

s or "any other monument
A monument is a type of structure either explicitly created to commemorate a person or important event or which has become important to a social group as a part of their remembrance of historic times or cultural heritage, or simply as an example of historic architecture...

 which in the opinion of the Secretary of State
Secretary of State
Secretary of State or State Secretary is a commonly used title for a senior or mid-level post in governments around the world. The role varies between countries, and in some cases there are multiple Secretaries of State in the Government....

 is of public interest by reason of the historic, architectural, traditional, artistic or archaeological interest attaching to it".

A monument is defined as:
any building, structure or work above or below the surface of the land, any cave or excavation; any site comprising the remains of any such building, structure or work or any cave or excavation; and any site comprising or comprising the remains of any vehicle, vessel or aircraft or other movable structure or part thereof... (Section 61 (7)).

Damage to an ancient monument is a criminal offence and any works taking place within one require Scheduled Monument Consent from the Secretary of State.

The Act also provides for taking monuments into the care of the Secretary of State – the concept of 'guardianship' where a monument remains in private ownership but the monument is cared for and (usually) opened to the public by the relevant national heritage body.

The Act (in Part II) also introduced the concept of Areas of Archaeological Importance, city centres of historic significance which receive limited further protection by forcing developers to permit archaeological access prior to building work starting. As of 2004 only five city centres, all in England, have been designated AAIs (Canterbury
Canterbury is a historic English cathedral city, which lies at the heart of the City of Canterbury, a district of Kent in South East England. It lies on the River Stour....

, Chester
Chester is a city in Cheshire, England. Lying on the River Dee, close to the border with Wales, it is home to 77,040 inhabitants, and is the largest and most populous settlement of the wider unitary authority area of Cheshire West and Chester, which had a population of 328,100 according to the...

, Exeter
Exeter is a historic city in Devon, England. It lies within the ceremonial county of Devon, of which it is the county town as well as the home of Devon County Council. Currently the administrative area has the status of a non-metropolitan district, and is therefore under the administration of the...

, Hereford
Hereford is a cathedral city, civil parish and county town of Herefordshire, England. It lies on the River Wye, approximately east of the border with Wales, southwest of Worcester, and northwest of Gloucester...

 and York
York is a walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence...

). Part II of the Act was never commenced in Scotland.

As the provisions in AAIs are limited compared with the requirements that can be made of developers through PPG 16
PPG 16
Planning Policy Guidance 16: Archaeology and Planning commonly abbreviated as PPG 16, was a document produced by the British Government to advise local planning authorities on the treatment of archaeology within the planning process...

, AAIs have fallen out of use.

The law is administered in England by English Heritage
English Heritage
English Heritage . is an executive non-departmental public body of the British Government sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport...

 and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, in Scotland by Historic Scotland
Historic Scotland
Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government, responsible for historic monuments in Scotland.-Role:As its website states:...

 and in Wales by Cadw
-Conservation and Protection:Many of Wales's great castles and other monuments, such as bishop's palaces, historic houses, and ruined abbeys, are now in Cadw's care. Cadw does not own them but is responsible for their upkeep and for making them accessible to the public...


External links

  • Historic Scotland Website – a page about Ancient Monuments of Scotland, which also includes a downloadable copy of the Act.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.