Archaeology, Development and Land Management

The planning system in Scotland gives Councils a role in preserving and recording archaeological and historic sites in their area.

In Dumfries and Galloway, specialist council staff create and update The Historic Environment Record and advise planners and developers where sites are known or suspected or where proposed plans affect sites.

Archaeological remains are a finite and irreplaceable resource. They are vulnerable to any form of ground disturbance, whether through human activity or through natural erosion. Once disturbed they cannot be repaired; once destroyed they cannot be renewed.


Development and land use change

Check the record - The map viewer facility can be used to check whether there are any known historic environment features in the immediate area of a proposed development. However, this viewer has not been developed as a planning tool, and not every record shown is relevant to the planning process. You are advised to contact the archaeology service at an early stage to determine if there are historic environment issues which affect any development. New sites are continuously added to the record, so discussion with the archaeology service is recommended.

Scottish Planning Policy notes:

'The presence and potential presence of archaeological assets should be considered by planning authorities when allocating sites in the development plan and when making decisions on planning applications.'

The Government's Scottish Historic Environment Policy (SHEP) states that:

 'there should be a presumption in favour of preservation of individual historic assets and also the pattern of the wider historic environment'

and Scottish Planning Policy goes on to say:

'Where preservation in-situ is not possible planning authorities should, through the use of conditions or a legal agreement, ensure that developers undertake appropriate excavation, recording, analysis, publication and archiving before and/or during development. If archaeological discoveries are made during any development, a professional archaeologist should be given access to inspect and record them.'

It is therefore important to identify and consider issues at an early stage and incorporate all relevant archaeological information into a planning application, as this will assist the planning authority in determining the application. An archaeological desk based appraisal, or the results of an archaeological field evaluation, may be required.

The Scottish Government's Planning Advice Note PAN 2/2011 - Planning and Archaeology - gives more specific advice.

The requirement to consider the historic environment also applies to developments such as utilities (telecoms, water, electricity, gas etc) that don't require planning permission, where ground disturbance will take place. PAN 2/2011 notes:

'In these circumstances it is still essential to comply with the Scottish Ministers' vision for the historic environment as set out in the SHEP and to consult the local authority archaeologist at an early stage for advice about potential presence of archaeological remains, and guidance on how to proceed. Where development has a direct impact on a scheduled monument, developers should contact Historic Scotland.'

Historic Scotland also provide guidance notes on issues such as setting or accessibility, in their series of publications Managing Change in the Historic Environment.

Government funded land management schemes, including forestry - Applicants to these schemes are required to conserve archaeological sites on their land. The Council archaeology service can supply archaeology audits and advice for farms to meet Scottish Government, Rural Payments & Inspections Directorate (SGRPID) requirements. There is a charge for this service.

Archaeologically Sensitive Areas are designated by the Council so that developers can be aware of extensive archaeological interests at an early stage and take account of them in their proposals for land use change. They cover both urban and rural areas of Dumfries and Galloway where a concentration of archaeological interest, or potential interest, covers large areas, or heritage features are the basis for visitor attractions. Their locations are shown on the map viewer. The designation has been used to inform strategic guidance documents on forestry and wind farms.

Scheduled Monuments are designated as being of national importance by the Scottish Ministers. Historic Scotland is responsible for administering these sites and liaising with their owners. In addition to planning consent, any proposals affecting them must have prior consent from the Scottish Ministers and should be discussed at an early stage with Historic Scotland. There are around 900 such designated sites in Dumfries and Galloway.

Related Information

Contact Details


Archaeology Service

Environmental Planning
Militia House
English Street

Tel: 01387 260154
Email this contact

External Links

Contact Dumfries and Galloway Council T: 030 33 33 3000

Council Offices
English Street

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