Management of archaeological or historic sites

Introduction

Archaeological and historic sites provide a tangible link with our past. They contain information that can tell us about how our ancestors lived, managed the land, worshipped, died, and how they shaped the landscape that we live in today. They are the only source of evidence for much of Scotland's past. Archaeological and historic sites are vulnerable to damage or destruction from a number of natural and human actions. Once destroyed, an archaeological site cannot be replaced.

The aim of this Option is to encourage owners and managers of archaeological and historic sites to stabilise or improve their condition. This will ensure that the sites are better preserved for current and future generations to understand and enjoy.

What you can do

This Option enables you to undertake a variety of specified works to stabilise or improve the condition of archaeological and historic sites. There are a number of ways in which you can identify archaeological sites on your land. If you had an archaeological audit of your land for a previous agri-environment scheme, you may be able to refer to this. Your local authority archaeological officer may be able to advise. Alternatively, you can consult Pastmap. Pastmap is provided free of charge, but you will need to complete a short registration process.

With the management of any archaeological site, it is important to establish what the management needs of the site are, and plan your work around these management needs. For scheduled monuments, contact Historic Scotland for advice at an early stage for advice about what works would be beneficial for the site. Historic Scotland will also provide advice about how to apply for Scheduled Monument Consent, which is likely to be required and must be obtained before any work can commence on site. For unscheduled sites, contact your local authority's archaeological officer for advice as to what works would be beneficial for the site.

Once you have established what works you can undertake to improve the condition of the site, these works must be set out in detail in your application. At a minimum, you must include:

  • A map extract at 1:10,000 or a more detailed map or sketch showing the precise extent and location of the site to be managed, annotated to show the precise location of works and capital items proposed.
  • Annotated photographs showing the location of works and capital items proposed. These photographs should correspond to the annotated map.
  • For scheduled monuments, written agreement from Historic Scotland that the works are suitable for the site. This written agreement should be either in the form of a Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) document or a letter of support if SMC is not required.
  • For unscheduled monuments, you must include written agreement from your local authority's archaeological officer that the works are suitable for the site.

The following actions are eligible for support under this Option. In many cases, a combination of several will be required:

  • Bracken control: Bracken obscures archaeological sites, making them harder to interpret and more vulnerable to accidental damage. In addition, bracken root systems (known as rhizomes) are substantial and penetrate the ground deeply, causing extensive damage to buried archaeological remains. Bracken is best tackled before it comes too heavily established on an archaeological site, by cutting or crushing fronds twice a year (about mid-June and again 6 weeks later). Avoid using heavy machinery, as this could damage archaeological features. The cutting or crushing should be carried out for at least three years in a row, so if you plan to undertake bracken control you should ensure that your Proposal specifies each year in which the work will be undertaken.
  • Gorse, Rhododendron, scrub or other woody plants: You should control gorse, scrub and other woody plants by cutting off at ground level. Cut stumps should be spot treated with an appropriate herbicide, and the cut vegetation should be removed carefully from the site. Scrub control should be carried out for at least three years, as re-growth is highly likely to occur following the initial scrub clearance. Therefore, if you plan to undertake scrub control you should ensure that your Proposal specifies each year in which the work will be undertaken.
  • Tree felling and removal: Removal of trees from archaeological sites is not always necessary, particularly if the trees are stable and relatively mature. However, root growth can damage archaeological remains and masonry, particularly with young trees, whose roots can grow rapidly. In addition, windthrow can pose a significant risk to archaeological sites as it can heave up root plates and damage masonry.

This Option will support the felling and removal of trees on or within windthrow distance of your archaeological or historic site. Any tree felling proposals must be accompanied by supportive survey work, assessments of tree health, protected species survey and where appropriate an assessment of historic significance and integrity, demonstrating that the work is being proposed as part of a systematic management plan.

To avoid ground disturbance, trees should be cut off at ground level and the stumps spot-treated to prevent re-growth. Stumps should be left to rot in the ground and must not be dug out. Brash and timber should be removed with care. Cut timber must be lifted from the site rather than dragged. If possible, the trunks of wind-thrown trees should be cut and the root plate eased back into place.

It is likely that regenerating scrub, woody plants and self-seeded trees will establish themselves following tree felling and removal. It is important that you plan for this, so your Proposal should include follow-up treatment of scrub for at least two years following this initial felling of trees.

  • Controlling access by livestock: Archaeological sites usually benefit from light grazing in order to keep sites free of scrub and bracken and reduce the risk of fire. Many archaeological sites in grazed land are stable and do not need any intervention to stabilise or improve their condition. In fact, fencing a site off can cause more problems in the longer term, as stock exclusion will usually lead to rapid colonisation by scrub and self-seeding trees.

Where localised stock erosion is taking place on an archaeological site in grazed land, it is sometimes necessary to restrict access by livestock in order to prevent damage to surface and buried archaeological remains. This Option will support the cost of associated capital items, such as fences, gates and stiles. This Option will also support costs associated with removing or re-aligning fences in order to allow livestock access to an archaeological site to control vegetation. If grazing on a site ceases altogether, it is likely that regenerating scrub, woody plants and self-seeded trees will establish themselves following stock exclusion. It is important that you plan for this, so your Proposal should include follow-up treatment of scrub.

The addition or removal of fences, gates or stiles on scheduled monuments will require scheduled monument consent. Fencing may also have an adverse impact on the appearance of a scheduled monument, and so you must seek the advice of Historic Scotland if you propose any fencing on or close to a scheduled monument. With unscheduled sites, any fences, stiles or gates must be at least 10m outside the outermost visible features on the site, unless you obtain written confirmation from your local authority archaeological officer that a reduced distance is appropriate.

  • Earthwork repair: Many historic and archaeological sites are of earthwork construction. Natural and man-made damage can occur to earthworks through actions such as slope erosion, windthrown trees, stock erosion and vehicle damage. This can lead to scarring on earthwork sites, damage of archaeological remains and the loss of important archaeological information. Under this Option, you can define and carry out a programme of repairs to archaeological earthworks. The nature and scale of the works required will depend on the site-specific circumstances.

Archaeological supervision of earthwork repairs will be required unless you can provide written confirmation from the relevant authority ( Historic Scotland for scheduled monuments, or your local authority's archaeological officer for unscheduled sites) that archaeological supervision is not required. This archaeological supervision must be carried out by a qualified and competent person working to the Institute for Archaeologists (IFA) standard or similar recognised standard for archaeological work in the UK.

In conjunction with the earthwork repairs, the reconstituted ground should be reseeded by hand with a suitable grass/wildflower mix. In addition, the causes of the original erosion should be eliminated. The removal of earth or turf from close proximity to a monument can damage surrounding archaeology, so if additional soil is required to repair the earthworks, this should be 'clean' topsoil brought in from outside the immediate area. You must check with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) before bringing earth or topsoil onto the site, as it is possible that the requirements of the Waste Management Licensing Regulation 1994 may apply.

  • Removal of recent field-cleared stone from sites of archaeological interest: 20th-century field-cleared stone can obscure details of archaeological sites, hindering their management and interpretation. Under this Option, you can remove recent field-cleared stone from an archaeological site, taking care not to disturb the ground surface. Archaeological supervision of this work will be required unless you can provide written confirmation from the relevant authority ( Historic Scotland for scheduled monuments, or your local authority's archaeological officer for unscheduled sites) that archaeological supervision is not required. This archaeological supervision must be carried out by a qualified and competent person working to the Institute for Archaeologists (IFA) standard or similar recognised standard for archaeological work in the UK.
  • Work to consolidate masonry in ruinous buildings: Many processes, such as water ingress, mortar failure and vegetation growth, can cause masonry to deteriorate and become unstable, often leading to collapse. This Option will provide support towards works to prevent further deterioration or collapse of masonry in ruinous buildings, including vegetation removal. You must obtain specialist advice about what works, if any, will be appropriate for the site; these will be heavily dependent on site-specific circumstances. With scheduled monuments, contact Historic Scotland for advice at an early stage, as scheduled monument consent will be required. Consolidation work should be prepared and undertaken by suitable practitioners and specifiers experienced in the conservation and repair of historic buildings.

Works must be limited only to the minimum intervention required to prevent the further deterioration or collapse of the masonry. Any items that go over and above the minimum intervention required to achieve this are not eligible for funding. For example, this Option will support the consolidation of ruinous walls of a building and the capping of wall heads at their present height to prevent further water ingress. It will not, however, support the rebuilding of those walls to their former height, nor the introduction of handrails, stairs, lighting or other modern fixtures. This Option will not fund the re-roofing of a ruinous building unless there is no viable alternative means of preventing its further deterioration. This principle of minimum intervention extends to specialist costs (such as architects' fees and archaeological watching briefs), scaffolding costs, and the detail of the work on the masonry itself. Any archaeological supervision must be carried out by a qualified and competent person working to the Institute for Archaeologists (IFA) standard or similar recognised standard for archaeological work in the UK.

Who can apply

Any rural land manager, business, non-profit organisation, rural community group or individual with an eligible site.

Eligibility criteria

  • Eligible archaeological sites and cultural landscapes are defined as sites recorded on the National Monuments Record of Scotland (NMRS) or Local Authority's Sites and Monuments Record (SMR) or Historic Environment Record (HER) that survive either as visible upstanding remains (such as banks, earthworks and walls), or are visible as archaeological cropmarks.
  • Artefact find spots and battlefield sites are not eligible for funding under this Option unless visible upstanding remains (such as banks, earthworks and walls) or archaeological cropmarks also survive at that location. In such cases, eligibility for funding is restricted to the management of those visible upstanding remains or cropmarks.
  • Buildings, structures and engineering works that are still serving a function, or are in use, or are intended to be brought back into use, are not eligible for funding under this Option.
  • Works associated with the requirements of the Waste Management Licensing Regulation 1994 (as amended) are not eligible for funding under this Option.
  • Archaeological excavation or supervision is not eligible for funding under this Option unless it is required in order to undertake eligible activities.
  • Works to consolidate masonry must be restricted to the minimum level of sympathetic intervention required to prevent further deterioration of the building.
  • The re-roofing of a roofless building is not eligible for funding under this Option unless there is no viable alternative means of preventing its further deterioration.
  • Applicants' own labour costs are not eligible for funding under this Option.
  • Where you propose to renew, rebuild or restore a fence or a dyke that forms the boundary between your land and that of your neighbour, the payment will be in proportion to your level of responsibility; that is, if you and your neighbour are equally responsible for maintaining a dyke or maintaining a fence, you will be entitled to payment on half of the area of dyke or on half the length of fence respectively. You may still claim full payment for any associated items such as gates, marking to reduce bird collision or rabbit netting.
  • If you have shared responsibility for the fence or dyke, a Shared Boundary Agreement form must be completed and submitted with your application. Please note that you will be responsible for ensuring that the capital works are completed to the required specification and are fit for purpose

What costs will be supported

You will receive a contribution of up to 100% of eligible costs. You can only make a claim once you have completed the work, and in the year specified for the work in your contract. Please see the guidance on Claims for capital payments for more information.

Specialist fees (such as architects, archaeologists, surveyors and engineers) are eligible for payment under this Option, up to a ceiling of 12% of total eligible project costs. Receipted invoices must be provided in support of your payment claim. Please see the guidance on professional fees for further information.

To ensure value for money we require you to provide 2 competitive quotes for any capital items applied for which are based on actual cost. If, however, you are seeking grant support towards something so specialised it is only available through 1 source then we would accept 1 quote. Please see the guidance on quotes and estimates for more information.

Match funding from Historic Scotland: Please be aware that Historic Scotland can provide financial assistance to help preserve and maintain archaeological sites. However, they cannot grant aid the same works that are supported from another stream of Scottish Government funding, such as Rural Priorities. If you are considering seeking funding for your project from Historic Scotland, or already have an offer of grant from them, it is very important that you contact them to discuss your Rural Priorities Proposal.

Rate of support

You will be reimbursed up to 100% of the cost of eligible works under this Option.

However, the total amount of grant payable for non-agricultural, commercial activities may be limited because of rules applied in relation to State Aid.

Inspections and verification

To aid inspections, you must keep a photographic record of the condition of each site you will manage under this Option. At a minimum, you must take photos before the works commence and again 1 year, 3 years and 5 years after the works have taken place. These photos must be retained for inspection purposes. The inspector will check the work carried out is the same as specified in the approval and that the claimed costs are justified. For inspection and claims purposes, you must retain a copy of any consent documents obtained also.

List of links to further information

Pastmap is a free online resource that allows you to access information about scheduled and unscheduled archaeological sites, listed buildings, and Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland is responsible for recording, interpreting and collecting information about the built environment. Their website includes links to a number of searchable databases.

Historic Scotland safeguards the nation's historic environment and promotes its understanding and enjoyment on behalf of Scottish Ministers. Their website includes further information about scheduled monuments and their management.

The Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers. The ALGAO: Scotland part of the website contains links to a number of members' regional websites that may contain further information on archaeological and historic sites in your area.

Archaeology Scotland is a voluntary membership organisation that works to secure the archaeological heritage of Scotland for its people through education, promotion and support. Their website contains guidance for rural land managers on the identification and management of archaeological sites.

The Institute for Archaeologists advances the practice of archaeology and allied disciplines by promoting professional standards and ethics for conserving, managing, understanding and promoting enjoyment of heritage.