Protection of cultural property in the event of armed conflict: guidance

Guidance on implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention, its protocols, and the Cultural Property (Armed Conflicts) Act 2017 in Scotland.

1. UK cultural property protected by the Convention

1. The Convention defines cultural property as:

(a) movable or immovable property of great importance to the cultural heritage of every people, such as monuments of architecture, art or history, whether religious or secular; archaeological sites; groups of buildings which, as a whole, are of historical or artistic interest; works of art; manuscripts, books and other objects of artistic, historical or archaeological interest; as well as scientific collections and important collections of books or archives or of reproductions of the property defined above;

(b) buildings whose main and effective purpose is to preserve or exhibit the movable cultural property defined in sub-paragraph (a) such as museums, large libraries and depositories of archives, and refuges intended to shelter, in the event of armed conflict, the movable cultural property defined in sub-paragraph (a);

(c) centers containing a large amount of cultural property as defined in sub-paragraphs (a) and (b), to be known as 'centers containing monuments'.

2. In order to qualify as 'cultural property' under the Convention, the property must be of ' great importance to the cultural heritage of every people.' This may be one of the types of cultural property listed in (a) above, but other types of cultural property may also be included.

3. State parties do not need to set out details of the types of cultural property in their territory which they think should be protected under the Convention. However, there is a practical benefit to the owners and trustees of cultural property and to our armed forces and those of other countries, in indicating the UK cultural property which we consider to be protected.

4. In 2005 the UK Government consulted the public on the types of cultural property in the UK which they thought met the definition in the Convention. The responses to that consultation, and to further consultation with key stakeholders, has helped in finalising the list set out below. However, as stated above, this is published for guidance only; any cultural property which meets the definition set out in the Convention is protected, whether or not it is included in the list.

A. All listed buildings of Grade I (England and Wales), Category A (Scotland) and Grade A (Northern Ireland) status

B. All historic parks and gardens of Grade I status in England and Wales

C. All UK World Heritage Sites, excluding those which are inscribed as natural sites only

D. The collections of the museums and galleries that are sponsored by Her Majesty's Government, the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Northern Ireland Executive

E. Designated Collections in England and Recognised Collections in Scotland (covering collections at museums, galleries, libraries, archives and universities)

F. The records and collections of the National Record Offices, the five legal deposit libraries in the UK and the British Film Institute National Archive

G. Properties in state guardianship in the UK (including properties in the National Heritage Collection in England; Properties in Care of the Scottish Ministers; Properties in Care of the Welsh Ministers; and Monuments in State Care or Guardianship in Northern Ireland).


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