The Antiquities List was first drafted in 1932, published in a Government Notice of 1932, and later amended. The antiquities list, as the name suggests, is simply a list of buildings, sites and remains having geological, archaeological, antiquarian or artistic importance grouped by district. All the entries in the list are afforded protection as ‘listed sites’ in terms of the Antiquities (Protection) Act of 1925, which has been superseded by the Cultural Heritage Act of 2002.
The archaeology entries in the list include the major archaeological sites discovered in Malta and Gozo prior to 1939. This has resulted in important archaeological sites being discovered after this date, such as the Tal-Latnija Catacombs at Salina, the prehistoric tombs at Xemxija and the Xaghra Circle in Gozo, being omitted from the list. The list includes a total of 67 entries for archaeological sites, 38 of which (mostly Class A sites) have already been scheduled. Out of the remaining 29 entries, 3 sites have since been destroyed whilst another 3 sites have not been traced.
The report being presented is based on both a desk-top and fieldwork study of the remaining archaeological sites, aimed at a proper identification of the sites so as to determine whether they merit scheduling. The fieldwork was not limited solely to the identification of the features but it was also extended to include a buffer zone having a minimum radius of 100 metres. The final aim of the project is to provide an efficient planning tool for the safeguarding of the identified archaeological sites through appropriate levels of scheduling as provided by the Development Planning Act and the relevant Structure Plan and Local Plan Policies, upon which will be included on the Malta
Scheduled Property Register.
The entries in the Antiquities List are very generic, simply naming the features without providing a proper address, coordinates, site plan or photographs. Such a list does not provide a usable planning tool in that it presupposes knowledge of the exact location, nature and extent of the particular feature and accordingly one cannot accurately predict the impact that development may have on such features. Furthermore, in view of such limited information, the listed features are only afforded generic protection under the existing legislation and the Antiquities List does not make a provision for the definition of protective buffer zones for the identified features.
Scheduling of Parish Churches and Ongoing Heritage Management
In 2007 the Heritage Planning Unit (HPU) commenced a project for the compilation of a series of Data Inventory Cards for all parish churches in Malta and Gozo. This project was necessary owing to the significance of this group of monuments so the Malta Environment and Planning Authority will be in a position to protect the same heritage repertoire and provide advice on matters concerning cleaning, maintenance and restoration of the most significant parish churches. There is a combined total of approximately eighty five Parish Churches on the islands dating from the Baroque and Neo-Classical periods through to contemporary design and construction of the most recent parish churches.
The preparation of Data Inventory Cards for an item is not simply a matter of compiling a ‘list’ of significant buildings but identifying unique information for that particular property which may include; the research of documentary evidence, item details (name, type, category, condition, local council), current and historical photographs, location maps and where possible drawings of the original design. A summary of the cultural heritage significance of the property is also included if it is indeed considered to contain cultural significance.
There are numerous reasons for compiling Data Inventory Cards and for this particular project there are a number of objectives, which include:
• Identifying the parish churches which may contain a high degree of cultural heritage significance;
• Provide basic information for planning purposes such as planning applications, enforcement, local plans and restoration works.
• To make the data easily accessible to the owners and managers of the monument, students, heritage professionals, architects, prospective visitors etc by means of simple, accurate and direct information about those parish churches considered to have a high level of heritage significance.
• Establishing a point of reference for information which may provide useful data for future generations;
• Identifying areas where some parishes may find it difficult to manage their asset through lack of awareness of conservation techniques, and could reduce the life span of the item considerably or diminish the aesthetic qualities and authenticity.
It should be noted that this is not an exercise to place responsibility on anyone for inappropriate practice but an opportunity to progress forward in terms of providing advice for future works and maintenance procedures. A heritage item for example will have a very limited life span if not maintained and managed appropriately. The same will occur if conservation works are mishandled through the use of inappropriate materials and incorrect technical advice. The ultimate aim should be to prolong the life of a building as much as possible with limited funding.
This project is also an opportunity for the public to participate. Some of the well known parish churches are very well documented although there are other parish churches where information is limited. It is important that information entered in the Data Inventory Cards is complete and consistent. Valuable information such as historical photographs, plans or even a simple historical account of a parish church would be most beneficial to the project.
Over 2000 properties have been scheduled on the Maltese Islands since 1994, in that time many changes have occurred such as naming of buildings, changing of street names, and changes to the street numbering to name a few. This process involves checking of all related legislation for each property and an on site inspection for each property, a large task which commenced in October of 2008. The first stage of the project which included filtering through masses of information to produce a definite accurate Register is now nearing completion, the results of which can be seen through this website. Stage two of the project will commence in the coming months with a view to make future review's a simpler process.