The inclusion of battlefields and other historic conflict sites in the Inventory is intended to highlight their importance as significant elements of the Welsh historic environment. It also promotes their protection, and provides information to support the sustainable management of change affecting them. Highlighting battlefields in this way will encourage the active management of change, reducing inadvertent damage and adverse impacts, and mitigate the effects of development. It also provides a framework for engaging stakeholders in discussion about the value and significance of battlefields, and in exploring opportunities for developing their educational and tourism potential.
The Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Wales is a non-statutory Inventory, which means that there is no primary legislation enacted to protect entire battlefields in Wales. However, parts of battlefields may be designated as scheduled monuments or listed buildings, and some battlefields may lie within areas of land registered as historic parks and gardens.
Upstanding remains at the site of a historic battlefield may be scheduled, including, for example, earthworks associated with sieges. The recent legislative amendments introduced by the Historic Environment (Wales) Act 2016, also allows a wider range of sites to be scheduled, including sites, such as battlefields, where the only surviving archaeological remains are scatters of objects and munitions associated with the core area of the conflict. In other cases, conflict sites might include listed buildings or structures.
Where battlefields, or parts of battlefields, have been included in the schedule of monuments, then any proposals that may affect them in any material way will require scheduled monument consent, which is administered on behalf of the Welsh Ministers by the Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service (Cadw). In the case of listed buildings or structures associated with battlefield sites, any proposal for change that might affect their special interest will require listed building consent from the relevant local planning authority.
Information relating to Designated Historic Assets in Wales can be found on Côf Cymru – National Historic Assets of Wales, an online service that has been developed by Welsh Government’s Historic Environment Service (Cadw). This displays depictions and associated record descriptions of Designated Historic Assets in Wales.
Sites included on the Inventory of Historic Battlefields may contain archaeological remains that provide evidence for the nature of the conflict that took place. The conservation of such archaeological remains is a material consideration in determining a planning application, whether those remains are a scheduled monument or not (see Chapter 6, section 6.5.5 of Planning Policy Wales). Local planning authorities may include policies in their development plans to protect the known sites of historic battlefields from inappropriate development, or they may be designated as conservation areas.
Where archaeological remains associated with a historic battlefield are known to exist or there is a potential for them to survive, planning policy makes it clear that the local planning authority should request those making a planning application to undertake a desk-based archaeological assessment and, where appropriate, an archaeological evaluation. This information will then form part of the local planning authority’s consideration of that application. If they are minded to approve an application, the local planning authority may impose conditions to protect any archaeological remains, or they may require the developer to secure appropriate and satisfactory provision for the archaeological investigation and the subsequent recording of the remains.
The local planning authority is supported in this decision-making process either by in-house archaeological advisors or by the curatorial sections of the four Archaeological Trusts in Wales. These advisors draw upon the information held within the historic environment records (HERs) that are maintained by the four Archaeological Trusts. The HERs have direct access to the Inventory of Historic Battlefields in Wales to support this process.