Accessing built heritage

The Historic Environment Division records, protects, conserves and promotes the historic environment for present and future generations. This information is archived in the National Monuments and Buildings Record for Northern Ireland and includes sites of archaeological or historic interest.

National Monuments and Buildings Record (NI)

Archived information is held in the Northern Ireland Monuments and Buildings Record (MBR) and includes:

  • databases
  • written records
  • maps
  • photographs
  • drawn and digital material

If you are studying the built heritage or just want to learn more, the MBR and an extensive library collection are available to everyone.

Photograph collection

The National Monuments and Buildings Record (NI) MBR holds over 72,000 photographic prints and negatives together with over 414,000 colour transparencies slides and 297,500 digital images currently on fotoware system. Many of these taken by Historic Environment Division (HED) staff during their survey and research work; others through purchases or gifts. Included in the collection are aerial views of urban and rural sites.

Architectural drawing collection

The Architectural Drawings Collection includes drawn plans, elevations and sections from several architectural firms who were responsible for the repair, modifications and extensions to many important historic buildings in Northern Ireland. The collection also incorporates Ministry of Finance (1922-1950) and Board of Works (pre0-1922) files, mostly architectural designs of government buildings, such as schools, post offices and hospitals.

Accessing records

At the Department for Communities (DfC) website you can research online information about listed buildings, archaeological sites or historic monuments including:

  • Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Record (NISMR)
  • Buildings database
  • Built heritage at risk database
  • The natural stone database
  • Heritage mapping

Public search facility

The National Monuments and Buildings Record (NI) is currently housed in the Klondyke Building in the Gasworks Business park, Ormeau Road, BT7 2JA, you would like to be kept informed via the mailing group or have any specific enquiries, send a request to:

Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Record

You can access the Northern Ireland Sites and Monuments Record online. NISMR has details for each archaeological site or historic monument recorded in Northern Ireland. There are over 16,000 records, from prehistoric tombs to post-medieval settlements.

To find the information you need, you can search using townland or parish, site type or time period.

Industrial Heritage Record

The area of Northern Ireland once boasted a varied and rich industrial economy that included internationally renowned companies such as Harland and Wolff. This has left a large and important legacy of sites that include factories and mills, mines, canals and railways.

The Industrial Heritage Record lists more than 16,000 industrial sites. Limited information is currently available for most sites in the Record. Some sites have more detailed recorded information such as those surveyed in the Second Survey of Historic Buildings in Northern Ireland.records as these were also recorded in the Second Survey of Historic Buildings in Northern Ireland.  

Industrial Heritage records can be viewed in the MBR.

Parks, Gardens and Demesnes of Historic Interest

The historic parks, gardens and demesnes of Northern Ireland make up an important part of the landscape. Most are distinguished by their design of trees, woods, meadows and water, often as the setting for a house or institution.

They may include architectural features, such as walled gardens, bridges or garden pavilions, and commonly contain woodland, veteran trees, ornamental grounds, and plant collections, including arboreta and pineta.

By their very nature, parks and gardens incorporate large volumes of living plants and are therefore a fragile and changing heritage, demanding careful ongoing management and conservation.

 The Northern Ireland Heritage Gardens Record has a detailed record of over 700 historic parks, gardens and demesnes.

Defence Heritage Record

Volunteers in the Defence Heritage Project collect information about twentieth century military structures in Northern Ireland. These include trenches, gun and searchlight emplacements, pillboxes, observation posts, airfields, naval and flying boat bases and air raid shelters.

As part of the First World War centenary, volunteers will record information about defence structures in Northern Ireland. For more information and to find out how to volunteer, visit the following page:

Maritime Heritage Record

The coast and seaways have always been important for settlement, defence, economic exploitation and trade.  The Maritime Heritage Record has details about archaeological sites on the coastline, foreshore and underwater.  

Records include sites such as kelp kilns, ice houses, fish traps, salt pans as well as ports and harbours.

Historic Buildings Record

The Historic Buildings database Record includes an online database with information for over 11,000 historic buildings and structures throughout Northern Ireland.  This includes records from the first listed buildings survey of Northern Ireland, undertaken between 1969 and 1994, plus the results of the on-going ‘Second Survey’ of historic buildings. The Historic Buildings Record also has thousands of files and drawings from the work of the Archaeological Survey for Northern Ireland (1950 onwards).

Records of historic buildings are available on the Buildings Database

Built heritage at risk in Northern Ireland

The Historic Environment Division within the Department for Communities together with the Ulster Architectural Heritage has created a register of buildings that are under threat from neglect or future development. This register is available online below:

 If you think a building should be added to the register or if you have more information about a building, email HED:

Email:  HeritageatriskNI@communities-ni.gov.uk  or Historicenvironmentenquiries@communities-ni.gov.uk

The Natural Stone database for Northern Ireland

The database has information about the building stone used in monuments and buildings throughout Northern Ireland.  There is also information on quarries (active and inactive) where the stone was extracted.  

Information in the database is useful for owners and those involved in conservation or researching monuments and buildings.  

More useful links

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