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Historic environment

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This chapter of our Programme for Government is our plan of action for the Culture and Heritage of Wales. It sets out our commitments to make a difference to the people of Wales, and our measures of success.
People at Chepstow Castle

An outline of the historic environment and the services that support it.

We want to make the historic environment accessible to all.

What is the historic environment?

It includes:

  • historic buildings
  • ancient monuments, such as castles, abbeys, standing stones and industrial remains
  • shipwreck sites
  • archaeological sites
  • historic parks, gardens and landscapes.

Facts and figures

In Wales, there are:

  • 3 World Heritage sites
  • 129 Monuments in State Care
  • 34,000 scheduled monuments and listed buildings
  • 6 Designated historic wrecks
  • 428 Registered historic landscapes, parks and gardens
  • 519 Conservation areas


Cadw (external link) is the Welsh Government historic environment service, working for an accessible, well protected historic environment.

Cadw’s aims are to conserve Wales’ heritage to the highest standard, to sustain the distinctive character of Wales’ landscapes and towns, to help people understand and care about place and history, and to make a real difference to people’s wellbeing.

Cadw is part of the Department of Culture & Sport.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (external link) surveys, records and explains buildings and archaeology and makes information available to the public on line and in its library in Aberystwyth.

The future delivery of historic environment services at a national level

John Griffiths, AM, the Minister for Culture and Sport announced on 14 January 2014 that Cadw and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales will remain separate organisations for the time being.

This follows a review of the responses to ‘The future of our past’, the Welsh Government’s twelve-week consultation on proposals for the Welsh historic environment, as well as the analysis of options produced by officials working closely with the Royal Commission. The Minister’s statement to the Assembly, along with the consultation information and analysis are available here.

The intention is now to take forward the proposed strategic planning process for the historic environment in collaboration with the sector as a whole, and to develop proposals for the establishment of an independent advisory panel. These initiatives will take account of the helpful responses received from the consultation. They will provide a strong, overarching framework within which Cadw can continue to provide leadership for the historic environment sector at a national level. It can use its sponsorship arrangement with the Royal Commission to promote coherent and mutually reinforcing priorities, delivering strategic outcomes for the people of Wales.