Fermanagh Area Plan 2007
Environment: Man-Made Environment
The modern landscape of Fermanagh is the result of some 8,000 years of human activity and change. A rich variety of archaeological sites and monuments, buildings and other structures is evidence of the attraction of Fermanagh to settlers from earliest times.
The oldest visible remains of this heritage are the communal stone tombs of the first farmers who settled here during the Neolithic period. Earthwork "forts" or "raths", remains of defended farmsteads of the Early Christian period (600-1100 AD) are numerous. A feature of Fermanagh's many loughs are crannogs, man-made islands, which range widely in date. Lough Erne was always a major waterway and early monasteries and churches clustered around its islands and shores, including Devenish, Inishmacsaint and White Island. In the medieval period many of these church sites were used for parish worship and burial and some continue in ecclesiastical use to this day. Castles, such as Tully and Monea, reflect the Scottish architectural traditions introduced in the early 17th century with the Plantation.
Some towns and villages were planned and built as part of the Plantation, but most were established from the later 17th century onwards. They display the typical layout and building styles which can be identified in so many of Northern Ireland's market towns and villages.
There are a number of buildings, both in settlements and the countryside, listed as being of special architectural or historic merit, while the central areas of Enniskillen and Lisnaskea have been designated as Conservation Areas in recognition of their architectural and historic importance.
The Department's Environment and Heritage Service is responsible for the identification, recording and protection of all known archaeological sites and historic monuments, including the taking of monuments into State Care and their scheduling for protection under the Historic Monuments and Archaeological Objects (NI) Order 1995. The work of scheduling is ongoing and the fact that a site has not yet received statutory protection does not diminish its archaeological importance nor its significance as an element in the historic landscape. Archaeological research also continues and new and exciting discoveries are made. The discovery of archaeological remains, which have not been previously known, may therefore represent a material change which can affect the nature of development which will be permitted in respect of an area within a development limit, or within the countryside.
Buildings of architectural or historic interest located throughout Fermanagh have been listed under Article 42 of the Planning (NI) Order 1991 to protect their character. Such buildings are listed for their protection in the public interest because it has been recognized that the quality of our past is an essential ingredient for the quality of our future. As the process of building survey and listing is ongoing additional buildings will, where appropriate, be added to the statutory list.
In an effort to increase public awareness of historic buildings in need of restoration, the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society in association with Environment Service is publishing "Buildings at Risk" a series of catalogues of historic and important buildings in Northern Ireland which appear to be threatened. This includes a number of buildings in Fermanagh for which the Department would encourage sympathetic restoration schemes.
Change in the Fermanagh landscape and townscape will continue over time and in response to the needs of its people. It is important therefore to respect and protect Fermanagh's heritage and to improve the quality of new development both in settlements and the countryside. This will ensure a rich historic legacy and attractive environment for future generations.
- To protect and where possible enhance features of the man-made heritage including historic landscapes, archaeological sites and monuments and their settings and listed buildings and their settings.
- To conserve and enhance areas of architectural or historic importance.
- To protect historic parks, gardens and demesnes from inappropriate development.
- To improve the quality of new built development.
- To ensure the integration of new development into it surroundings.
- To protect areas of intrinsic environmental value within settlements.
The Department's Strategic and Regional Planning Policies for the man-made environment are currently contained in "A Planning Strategy for Rural Northern Ireland " published in September 1993.