Helping you understand Welsh law

Acquisition and guardianship

 The 1979 Act defines an ‘ancient monument’ as any scheduled monument and any other monument that, in the opinion of the Welsh Ministers, is ‘of public interest by reason of the historic, architectural, traditional, artistic or archaeological interest attaching to it.’


The legislation allows the Welsh Ministers or local authorities to acquire ancient monuments by agreement or gift. The Welsh Ministers may also resort to compulsory acquisition for the purpose of securing the preservation of an ancient monument.


A person with certain interests in an ancient monument may place it under the guardianship of the Welsh Ministers or a local authority. Guardianship is established by deed and requires the consent of the Welsh Ministers or the local authority. A guardianship deed is a local land charge and is binding on any person deriving title to the ancient monument from the person who executed the deed.  


Guardianship of an ancient monument brings with it a duty for the Welsh Ministers or a local authority to maintain and manage it. This includes fencing, repairing and covering the monument and any other act required to protect it ‘from decay or injury’. The Welsh Ministers or a local authority may acquire or take into guardianship land in the vicinity of an ancient monument in order to support its maintenance and management. Easements and similar rights over lands in the vicinity of an ancient monument may also be acquired for those purposes. 


The Welsh Ministers or a local authority shall give the public access to any ancient monument in their ownership or guardianship unless they regard it as necessary for public safety or the preservation of the monument to exclude them from any or all of it. In connection with providing public access, the Welsh Ministers or a local authority may provide any facilities and information that they deem necessary or desirable. The legislation permits the Welsh Ministers or a local authority to make charges for admission to a monument or for the provision of services. 


The legislation makes provision for the transfer of guardianship between various public bodies and the termination of guardianship, provided certain conditions are met. 

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