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Archaeology and Fife Monuments Record

Fife Council archaeological staff help in the processing of planning applications and provide advice to other council services. The Archaeological Unit maintains records of the sites and monuments of Fife to help achieve this goal.

Fife has a rich variety of archaeological remains, which are the physical record of thousands of years of human activity. These remains are a fragile and non-renewable resource that the council is committed to preserving and enhancing. Promoting sustainable economic development is essential for Fife so we must ensure that Fife’s heritage is properly managed.

Archaeology and Planning

Since the publication of National Planning Policy Guideline 5 and Planning Advice Note 42 in January 1994, archaeology is now a consideration in the planning process. This guidance makes it the responsibility of the developer to ensure that archaeological remains are dealt with in an appropriate manner.

Where a development is expected to have an adverse effect on archaeology this may be dealt with in one of three ways:

  • Permission may be granted, subject to a condition that needs archaeological work to be carried out
  • Permission may be deferred, pending the results of an archaeological evaluation
  • In exceptional cases, permission may be refused on archaeological grounds

If you're planning a development that you think may have archaeological implications, it's wise to seek pre-application planning advice before submitting a planning application. This can save time, and can avoid problems later.

When an archaeological planning condition is applied archaeological work will usually start with an evaluation to find out the nature, form and extent of archaeological remains on the development site.

If an adverse effect on significant archaeological remains is confirmed then in situ preservation of them could be considered. If not feasible, then detailed excavation, recording, analysis and publication is the second best option.

Specifications for archaeological works

The developer is responsible for employing a professional archaeological contractor to carry out all works required by a planning condition. The Archaeological Unit can provide an outline specification detailing what is needed for the fulfilment of any given condition.

Fife’s sites and monuments

For planning purposes, the Archaeological Unit maintains a register of all recorded archaeological sites within Fife. This register, known as the Fife Sites and Monuments Record (FSMR), contains details of some 11,000 archaeological sites in Fife ranging from the Mesolithic period to the 20th century. The FSMR is not available online. Instead, members of the public can use PASTMAP to locate archaeological sites in Fife.

Scheduled monuments

Some 280 sites and monuments in Fife have been designated as being of national importance and are protected under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 by the Scottish Ministers.

More information on scheduled monuments can be found on the Historic Environment Scotland website.