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Monument Mentors - Scheduled Monument Monitoring

a group of people standing by a scheduled monument on the South Downs
Monument Mentors out on the Downs | © National Trust/Gary Webster

We need your help to protect our fascinating and important history for future generations to enjoy. Whether you are regularly enjoying the landscapes around you, or are just beginning to discover them, if you have a passion for history or are just looking for an excuse to get outside for health and wellbeing benefits, you can play your part.

What are Scheduled Monuments?

Scheduled monuments are the UK’s legally-protected archaeological sites. We all have a duty to look after them since they are part of our national story and form our past, present and future.

They can range in scale from the Iron Age Hillfort at Devil's Dyke which looks out over the weald of Sussex and Kent to the north and south to the Channel, to buried archaeological remains where nothing is visible above ground. Scheduled monuments provide a window on how people lived, fought, worshipped and shaped their environment around them across all periods of human history, from prehistoric Stonehenge to Cold War Orford Ness. In the context of environmental emergency and climate change, they are increasingly vulnerable but also hold the potential to inform us of how past societies adapted to change.

Some of the 20,000 scheduled monuments in England are well maintained and in good condition. Others have become lost from sight due to scrub invasion or damaged through cultivation, burrowing animals, erosion and the effects of climate change. In many cases we just don’t know what their condition is. This is why your help is needed.

An Introduction to Ground-based Archaeological Survey

Sarah Newsome from Historic England discusses the techniques you can use, and the things that you can look out for when trying to understand archaeological earthworks and historic landscapes. This is an unintrusive method of archaeological investigation.

An Introduction to Ground-based Archaeological Survey

Edburton motte and bailey castle on the 'Fulking archaeology walk' trail at Devil's Dyke, South Downs, West Sussex
Edburton motte and bailey castle at Devil's Dyke | © Laurence Perry

How you can help protect our past to inform our futures

Monument monitoring is a chance for you to support England’s heritage by reporting the condition of a scheduled monument to Historic England. In some cases, this will be the first report for a long time and so will be a vital baseline for future management. it could also help more people connect with the heritage in their local area.

No archaeological experience is needed. There is a quick and easy-to-follow process outlined in the Level 1 Toolkit. (The toolkits can also be found at the bottom of this webpage as downloadable pdfs.)

The monitoring process will speed up even more as you complete a few surveys or if you are monitoring a local monument you come to know well. You can find out what scheduled monuments are on your doorstep by searching the National Heritage List for England (NHLE) map .

Once you have identified a monument in your area, it's as simple as making a visit (perhaps as part of a walk or bike ride), taking some photos and submitting them with a few comments. A few minutes of time will make a huge difference.

This can be done all over the country but, if you want to visit monuments that are in the Changing Chalk area, you can contact Changing Chalk Heritage Officer, Gary Webster, and join an already established and growing team. Gary will be able to answer any questions about the process, as well as organise group monitoring visits and offer training.

So what are you waiting for? Grab the toolkit, fling on your shoes, grab the dog/bike/family, and get outside to meet your local scheduled monuments.

Monument Mentor Guides


Monument Mentors Toolkit Level 1 

Scheduled Monument Monitoring Tool Kit Level 1


Monument Mentors Toolkit Level 2 

Scheduled Monument Monitoring Tool Kit Level 2

a group of volunteers on top of Caburn Hill

Changing Chalk - Hearts and Histories of the Downs 

Read more about projects under the 'Hearts and Histories of the Downs' theme that forms part of the Changing Chalk partnership.

our archaeology apprentice, Kayleigh, up a hill on a very windy day

Changing Chalk Archaeology Apprentice Blog 

Changing Chalk archaeology apprentice Kayleigh talks about her experiences on our project, Monument Mentors.

Volunteers working on the white horse at Litlington

Volunteering with Changing Chalk 

Find out how you can get involved with the many Changing Chalk projects and help create a sustainable future for the eastern South Downs.

A father and daughter looking at a butterfly

Changing Chalk events and activities 

There are regular Changing Chalk activities to get involved with, including archaeological digs, nature walks, heritage events and history talks. Some are regular events and others, like the summer festivals, are one-off. But whatever the season, there's always plenty to do to enjoy and celebrate the chalk grasslands of the eastern South Downs.