Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW)

The Royal Commission is the investigation body and national archive for the historic environment of Wales. It has the lead role in ensuring that Wales’s archaeological, built and maritime heritage is authoritatively recorded and seeks to promote the understanding and appreciation of this heritage nationally and internationally.

Founded by Royal Warrant in 1908, we have been sponsored by the Welsh Government since 1999. We complement related bodies including the other two Welsh national collections, the national monuments records of England and Scotland and specialist bodies internationally.

  • We research and record archaeology, buildings, landscapes and maritime remains from prehistory to the present.
  • We care permanently for Wales’ rich archive of the historic environment in the National Monuments Record, a major cultural resource of 2 million photographs, 125,000 drawings and hundreds of thousands of other documents and digital data sets.
  • We support people to learn about our rich heritage through excellent publications, outreach and online resources.
  • We provide impartial advice and information to help people manage the historic environment sustainably and ethically.

Coflein provides a public window to over 100,000 sites and over 350,000 associated collections items in the National Monuments Record of Wales. Standards play a key part in ensuring records are consistently described and indexed so that the public can quickly search and retrieve the information they are looking for.

RCAHMW co-ordinates the Extended National Database Technical Working Group, which includes partners from the four Welsh Archaeological Trusts, Cadw, Amgueddfa Cymru – the National Museum of Wales and the National Trust. The group meets to set and maintain standards for recording information about the historic environment in Wales, including lists of controlled vocabulary. The majority are based on vocabularies used in England and Scotland, and the group is grateful to English Heritage for allowing the English Heritage Thesaurus of Monument Types and other controlled terminologies to be incorporated into lists in use in Wales.

RCAHMW contact: David Thomas (