A high concentration of ancient monuments is a feature of the Danish landscape. The ancient monuments began to be registered systematically in 1808, when a state commission asked clergymen to supply it with information about ancient monuments.
Today about 30,000 of the most significant ancient monuments are listed, while the remainder are protected by restrictive provisions in the Museums Act.
Many ancient monuments only appear during digging activity. This may occur in the course of archaeological investigations, but more frequently during construction work, road building and ploughing. These are the “hidden ancient monuments”. If private individuals, farmers or developers happen on traces of human activity from antiquity or historic times in connection with digging, they must report it to the museum responsible for the geographical area in question.
The Museum Act lays down that it is the developer who is responsible for the archaeological investigation necessary in the context of construction work.
Agency for Culture and Palaces
The Agency for Culture and Palaces is an institution under the Ministry of Culture. One of the responsibilities of this agency is the part of cultural heritage that includes ancient monuments, listed buildings and collections at the state and state-subsidised museums.
The Agency for Culture and Palaces also has a website dedicated to ancient monuments (Danish only) where examples of notable ancient monuments in the Danish landscape can be seen.
The responsibility for conducting archaeological investigations in connection with construction work is geographically divided between 42 state-subsidised museums. In addition, 10 museums spread over the country handle the responsibility for the listed ancient monuments on behalf of the Heritage Agency of Denmark.