Nunatta Katersugaasivia Allagaateqarfialu
Greenland National Museum & Archives

Immovable Ancient Monuments

Greenland is full of ancient monuments. Many of them are visible, but even more are invisible to the untrained eye. These are in the surface of the terrain, in layers of earth, or on top of mountains.

All immovable monuments that can be dated to pre-1900 are automatically (de facto) listed as worthy of preservation.

This de facto category of preservation also applies to shipwrecks and structures under the sea or surface of lakes. It also applies to all disused pre-1900 buildings.

Disused cemeteries, cairns and ruins and stone rings after 1900 are not listed. If some of these are considered to be of cultural value a case for preservation can be brought and the National Museum rules on whether they are to be listed or not. These are classified as facultative listings.

A Joint Responsibility

We have a joint responsibility to protect ancient monuments. Most of them are listed and thereby protected by the restrictive provisions of legislation on national treasures. Many ancient monuments are discovered during digging. Hidden monuments are revealed during the construction of buildings, laying of roads, farming, etc.

If a private individual, sheep farmer or builder finds traces of human activity when digging the work has to be stopped so they can contact the National Museum. Immovable ancient monuments must not be damaged, altered or moved, either partially or entirely. Building, ploughing, lighting fires, pitching tents and discarding rubbish in and close to immovable monuments is forbidden.

If major excavation work is planned, the National Museum is to be contacted in advance so they can provide instructions on the supervision of the work involved.

Here you can read more about the regulations governing ancient monuments, learn more about national treasures, and see what their appearance reveals about their cultural origins.


Can I Makes Changes to an Ancient Monument?

No changes to listed monuments can be made without the express permission of the National Museum.

The National Museum keeps an inventory of all listed historical monuments. The National Museum is the only institution with both access to the inventory and the necessary professional competence to evaluate its contents. Many listed monuments are difficult to see, so the National Museum has to see all applications to identify whether a planned project is in conflict with preservation legislation. You can find an application form for excavation projects here.

The National Museum can grant permission for other agricultural activities, such as the removal of stones and installation of information boards, dustbins, etc. that contribute to the accessibility of immovable monuments for the general public.

According to the legislation on national monuments, there is a protective zone of 20 metres surrounding a national monument. Permitted activities within this zone include certain agricultural activities, as well as making public pathways to the monuments themselves.

All activities within 2 metres of an immovable historical monument are prohibited.

Agricultural activities include surface soil treatment and harrowing to a depth of 15 cm, fertilization, planting, as well as using the area for grazing.


Search Nationalmuseum and Archieve of Greenland