Historic buildings and monuments
Buildings of special architectural and/or historic interest are ‘listed’ to protect the best of Northern Ireland's architectural heritage for future generations. Historic monuments help historians to map human settlement from 7,000 BC to the 20th century and includes castles, forts and ruins.
COVID-19 update on sites you can visit
For a list of castles, historic monuments and places you can visit, go to:
'Listing' protects the historic and architectural significance of buildings. Recording them in this way helps to guide proposals for their future which can include development. The best buildings of today may become the listed buildings of the future.
There are around 9,000 listed buildings (March 2018) and you can find out which buildings are listed by accessing the Northern Ireland Buildings Database.
A first survey to identify and protect buildings of architectural and historic importance began in Northern Ireland (NI) in the early 1970s and the first building, the former Portrush Railway Station, was listed on 26 March 1974. A second survey has been continuing since 1997.
Almost any type of man-made structure can be listed. The present list includes (amongst other types):
- telephone boxes
Historic Buildings Designation Branch
Nine Lanyon Place
Check that the building is not already listed on the Buildings Database and provide, if possible, photographs and an accurate address or location. Once your nomination is received, an architect will visit the building or structure and will decide if further research should be commissioned.
A guidance document and flowchart explain the listing process:
Over 16, 000 historic monuments have been identified in Northern Ireland, from prehistoric tombs to post-medieval settlements. They're all recorded online at the NI Sites and Monuments Record.
You can also view these records in the public research room located in the Klondyke Building in the Belfast. Contact details at the link below:
Some of Northern Ireland’s most important historic monuments are in ownership or guardianship of the Department for Communities. There are 190 historic monuments in state care in Northern Ireland.
Most of these sites are open to the public, although some may be closed at times to allow work to take place. At more remote monuments, public access is not yet available and there is an ongoing programme to provide or enhance access.
The most popular sites, such as Dunluce Castle, Carrickfergus Castle and Enniskillen Castle, are staffed throughout the year and have visitor facilities. Some sites have a dedicated guide during the summer months but may not have visitor facilities. More information on sites and their opening times is available here:
There are just over 2000 historic monuments in Northern Ireland which are classified as 'scheduled monuments'. This means they are protected as Monuments of Regional Importance to Northern Ireland as a whole.
Generally these are in private ownership and the Historic Environment Division of the Department for Communities seeks to secure their upkeep, protection and maintenance through engagement with owners.
The sites reflect all periods of human activity from prehistoric tombs, earthworks, castles, churches, maritime sites to canals, World War II defences and the ‘Samson and Goliath’ cranes in Belfast's Titanic Quarter.
Historic Environment Record of Northern Ireland
Historic Environment Record of Northern Ireland (HERoNI) has more information about historic buildings and monuments.
Historic environment map viewer
The historic environment map viewer allows you to search for historic buildings and monuments.
Historic environment toolkit
The historic environment toolkit is an A-Z of useful advice, guidance, records and links for those dealing with, or interested in, the Historic Environment of Northern Ireland.