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The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland


The main role of The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland is to assure, so far as practicable, the preservation of cultural heritage in its natural environment, to facilitate and promote public access and knowledge of such heritage.


The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland

The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland oversees the protection of Icelandic archaeological and built heritage. The current legislation on cultural heritage was passed in 2012 and came into force on 1 January 2013. This legislation merged two institutions, the Archaeological Heritage Agency and the Architectural Heritage Board. The new Agency is within the remit of the Prime Minister's Office.

The Cultural Heritage Agency of Iceland is an administrative institution which is responsible for protection of cultural heritage in accordance with the relevant legislation. According to the law, the role of the institution is:

  • to oversee the archaeological heritage in the country and protected buildings and structures;
  • to form policy on the protection of archaeological  and built heritage in cooperation with expert committees;
  • to elaborate rules and to supervise the registration of protected and listed archaeological sites, and protected and scheduled buildings and structures;
  • to maintain comprehensive registers on all protected and listed archaeological sites, protected gravestones and commemorative plaques, protected and scheduled buildings and structures;
  • to make proposals to the Minister on designating or withdrawing listed or scheduled status;
  • to apply a temporary listing order on archaeological sites where necessary;
  • to make rules and conditions for archaeological excavations and to monitor all archaeological research conducted in the country;
  • to deliberate and grant permission for local and temporary archaeological excavations;
  • to conduct essential research, such as emergency research, site examinations for the purpose of confirming the extent and nature of relics and other short-term research;
  • to monitor and grant permissions for the transport of cultural valuables to other countries;
  • to allocate from the archaeological heritage fund and from the architectural heritage fund, having received opinions from professional committees, and to organise these committees;
  • to monitor progress in projects which have received allocations from the funds;
  • to decide other allocations from the archaeological heritage fund and from the architectural heritage fund in consultation with the architectural and archaeological heritage committees;
  • to oversee the implementation of legislation with respect to the repatriation of cultural valuables to other countries;
  • to establish cultural heritage councils in each cultural heritage region and to be responsible for their activities;
  • to complete other tasks according to the decision of the Minister.