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A Joint Consultation on a Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland and the Merger of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)



This section sets out more detail of the background and context to the strategy and proposes some actions for consultation.

These actions were developed by stakeholders as the means by which all players can come together to deliver the overarching vision. They are structured around the key aims:

A - Cross-cutting strategic priorities
B - Understand - By Investigating and recording
C - Protect - By Caring and protecting
D - Value - By Sharing and celebrating

A - Cross-cutting strategic priorities

Key Aim: To ensure that the cultural, social, environmental and economic value of our heritage continues to make a major contribution to the nation's wellbeing.

Mainstreaming the historic environment

Given the many values and benefits described above, the historic environment should be viewed as an integral and important part of the fabric of our society. It is a precious resource in its own right which can be impacted upon by others but also one which, if properly looked after, can provide wider benefits to communities now and in the future. We want people to feel a sense of ownership and responsibility for it, and for its value to be taken into account in decision making across government and in society in general.

It is more than simply in debates where mainstreaming is needed. Ideas for mainstreaming suggested during the review include:

  • Historic environment to be integrated across key public policy development and implementation: economic development; rural development; social cohesion; housing; education; construction and tourism, etc.
  • Historic environment becomes embedded in thinking of key delivery agents such as local government (for example, education, planning and building standards and control), and the third and private sectors (for example, skills and volunteering, capacity building, construction and repair and maintenance).
  • Less tangible and yet significant benefits are achieved through the above, including community engagement and planning, leading to empowerment, participation and ownership of the local historic environment, people's wellbeing, sense of place and appreciation of their environment.
  • Such a system would benefit from strong championing and advocacy both within and outwith Government, and its agencies, at a national and local level.

Review of Historic Environment Policy - Policy Mapping Summary

We need to encourage a political and public culture change, to a place where the historic environment is fully integrated into the decision-making process at all levels. We also need to look beyond the sector and raise the general understanding and awareness of the value and benefits of the historic environment.

Informed decision making

Any decision made in relation to the care and management of the historic environment should be informed by the best available evidence. Only by continuing to develop our knowledge and understanding of the historic environment can we ensure that the arrangements we have in place for its management are appropriate and fit for purpose. The need for a robust evidence base to support decision making cuts across all activities in the historic environment sector, from designation and regulation to the care, management, and promotion of individual sites and monuments.[5] This is at the heart of any good decision making and delivery, and is core to the international community's approach to managing the historic environment.[6]

Existing sources of information on the historic environment

Scottish Historic Environment Audit (SHEA). SHEA 2012 provides an analysis of key trends in the historic environment sector. It shows that Scotland's historic environment attracts millions of visitors each year and generates income and jobs across Scotland. The process of establishing an evidence base and identifying key gaps in our knowledge is on-going and will provide a foundation to help measure our success in delivering the strategy.

RCAHMS - is a knowledge-based organisation which creates a unique national inventory through its own survey and research, and by identifying and collecting material relevant to the historic environment of Scotland. This provides an authoritative and internationally important resource for the study and management of the historic and built environment. The collection currently contains some 15 million items.

Local Authorities commission research and collate and curate a considerable amount of evidence relating to the local historic environment. For example, local authority Sites and Monuments Records (SMRs)/Historic Environment Records (HERs) contain information on both nationally designated and locally important sites. As of March 2012 there was some 283,238 items recorded on SMRs/HERs. In addition, ALGAO Scotland undertakes annual surveys recording staffing levels and types of casework carried out within their membership's local authority areas.

ScotlandsPlaces is a website that allows users to search across different national databases using geographic locations. The user is able to enter a place name or a coordinate to search across vast and rich digital collections, or they can use the mapping in the website to both define and refine their search. ScotlandsPlaces represents a model partnership between public bodies who have brought together complementary digital resources into one easily accessible place. Current partners in the initiative are:

  • The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)
  • The National Records of Scotland (NRS)
  • The National Library of Scotland (NLS)

ScotlandsPlaces has additional support from the School of GeoSciences at the University of Edinburgh and from the Scottish Government. The website can be explored at: http://www.scotlandsplaces.gov.uk/

Leadership and collaborative working at all levels

To ensure delivery of the shared vision for Scotland's historic environment will need leadership from across the sector. It is critical that strong leadership is demonstrated, and championed in central and local government and across the public, private and third sectors.[7] One of the ways we can deliver outcomes for the historic environment is to take advantage of local opportunities such as Community Planning Partnerships. But for the sector to play a leadership role they must have access to expert advice and information on the appropriate care of our historic environment (see pages 25-26).

It is also essential that the wide range of individuals and organisations operating within the sector work in partnership. Partnership and shared working can help ensure the best use of resources at a time of dwindling finances, enabling us to take on board competing priorities and weigh up conflicting concerns. Partnerships also open up positive opportunities to enhance our historic environment in the face of significant challenges. As with leadership, our vision can only be fully realised if all individuals and organisations with an interest in Scotland's historic environment work together where appropriate and practicable, taking forward the activities set out within this strategy.

Examples of collaborative/partnership working across the sector

Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) is the strategic intermediary body for Scotland's built environment sector, bringing together voluntary and professional non-governmental organisations that operate at the national level. As an umbrella organisation, BEFS informs, mediates and advocates on strategic issues affecting the built environment - historic and contemporary.

Traditional Building Healthcheck Scheme Historic Scotland is working in partnership with CITB-ConstructionSkills Scotland and Stirling City Heritage Trust, to develop a pilot scheme of independent inspections to identify issues with traditional buildings, that when addressed will stimulate the repair and maintenance market, through using appropriately skilled and qualified contractors to undertake any work identified. It is also hoped that by encouraging proper repair and maintenance of traditional buildings that this will encourage more uptake of the traditional skills required to maintain properly this important portion of our building stock. The scheme will go live on the ground in spring 2014 and is being preceded by a programme of training and awareness raising activities throughout 2013.

SCRAN is a charitable trust which aims to provide educational access to digital materials representing our material culture and history. This is provided through the wholly owned trading arm Scran Ltd. It is one of the largest educational online services in the UK supporting over 4,000 schools, libraries, colleges and universities. SCRAN work in partnership with over 300 cultural institutions in Scotland and the rest of the UK. Deposit details. A number of institutions use its online solution - Scran-in-a-Box - to provide access to their own data. The learning resource service hosts 370,000 images, movies and sounds from museums, galleries, archives and the media. It can be used as a superior form of clip art or for particular learning applications.

The new merged body (HS/RCAHMS) will play a key role in taking forward some of the actions set out in this strategy, but this must be in close partnership with other leading players for example, NTS, Local Authorities, the Museums sector, BEFS members and associate members, and VisitScotland. The existence of active national bodies is a strength of the sector, particularly as such bodies can provide leadership and accessible expertise recognised both nationally and internationally. We need to use the membership and reach of those bodies to extend this role and further empower the people of Scotland to understand, care for and value the historic environment.

Example of championing/integrating

Forestry Commission Scotland: Following valuable stakeholder input into the Scottish Forestry Strategy Implementation Plan, Forestry Commission Scotland developed a historic environment training course for forest and woodland managers in Scotland. The course highlighted the importance of the UK Forestry Standard Forests and the Historic Environment guidelines and aimed to encourage the integration of the historic environment within holistic Forest Plans. It promoted best practice in the identification, protection and management of the historic environment in the context of the design, establishment and management of a forest or woodland. The course was supported by a published suite of conservation management case studies. The initiative highlights the importance of (and opportunities for) integrating the shared vision for the historic environment within wider policy and operational frameworks.

Scottish Rural Development Programme: Historic Scotland (which provides the policy input on the historic environment dimension) is seeking to ensure that both the needs and the economic potential of the historic environment are taken into account across the board. Rather than a funding allocation specifically earmarked for the historic environment, we are seeking to establish multiple-outcome measures, which might encompass ideas such as natural and historic environment conservation benefits delivered in parallel by management of established grassland, or grants to support the sustainable re-use by landowners and rural communities of redundant vernacular or traditional buildings which contribute to the character of regional landscapes.

Skills and capacity at all levels

There is wide recognition of the breadth and profile of skills and expertise available in Scotland across the sector, and there is a range of opportunities for both receiving and delivering training and development. The challenge of maintaining and enhancing skills, addressing the current skills gap and ensuring effective succession planning in light of reducing resources will, however, need to be a future priority. In short, we need a clear focus on capacity building initiatives.

To ensure the appropriate care, management and promotion of our historic environment we need to support the many professional and specialist skills required to carry out this work and ensure that they are made available across the sector. The quality and availability of traditional building skills associated with the conservation, maintenance and repair of Scotland's historic building stock are also a critical factor. There is also a need to upgrade existing skills and develop, deliver, and accredit new skills across the public, private and third sectors.

Example of recent/ongoing initiatives re skills

The HLF Training Bursary Scheme (2006-2010) awarded £1 million to Historic Scotland's Conservation Group to fund training on traditional masonry construction and repair.

Traditional Skills Summit, Stirling 2012 - Ministerial Summit brought industry leaders together to highlight the concern over the condition of Scotland's traditional buildings and to champion the need for a collective approach to provide the quality of skills required and the level of demand to sustain the skills required to tackle the problem and contribute to Scotland's economy.


Key Aim: To ensure that the cultural, social, environmental and economic value of our heritage continues to make a major contribution to the nation's wellbeing.

In support of the above key aim, we propose the following actions:

  • To establish a unit at the heart of Government to champion the historic environment at policy level.
  • To engage across all portfolios to ensure that the spectrum of issues relating to the historic environment are understood and reflected appropriately in national, local and organisations' own policy.
  • To promote the use of champions and persuaders for the historic environment within organisations across the sectors and at national and local level and provide a framework for their activities that is linked to the Strategy.
  • To ensure all our decisions are underpinned by evidence and that we improve our understanding of the role and impact the historic environment plays in all aspects of our lives - for example its role in identity, well-being and sense of place.
  • To undertake regular surveys to ensure that we have the framework in place to obtain and retain the wide range of skills and resources required to manage our historic environment appropriately and for the long term. This should include training provision.
  • To explore the relationship between the historic environment and the natural environment with a view to strengthening the interface between the natural and built heritage/archaeology to achieve synergies and more effective place-making.

B - Understand: Investigate and Record

Key aim: to investigate and record our historic environment to continually develop our knowledge, understanding and interpretation of our past and how best to conserve, sustain and present it.

Effective management of the historic environment begins with proper understanding of the significance and values of the asset. We need to know what we have in order to determine how best to protect and manage it. This fundamental tenet is enshrined within a succession of international charters and instruments, which set out the philosophical and practical framework for management of the cultural heritage at both the national and local level. Investigating and recording our rich heritage (both statutorily protected and other cultural assets) and collecting archives is the key to understanding our historic environment that will ultimately inform the decision making process across the sector as well as ensuring that we have the information required to manage change effectively and to inform our understanding of the past.

A great deal of activity has already been undertaken or is underway in relation to investigating and recording the historic environment, notably through national programmes by the RCAHMS, Historic Scotland and Forestry Commission Scotland as well as a range of local government, academic, Non-Governmental, commercial and amateur initiatives, through collecting, and through survey of buildings, sites, landscapes and townscapes and through technical and practical scientific study. It is not the intention of this strategy to reinvent the wheel, rather to champion the common endeavour, and seek ways, perhaps following the successful model of the research framework for archaeology (ScARF - see information on pages 24-25) to harness and collate information and knowledge to ensure its best use and effectiveness.

Knowledge developed and new technologies and techniques deployed

The historic environment cannot be managed or cared for without a basic understanding of its nature and how it is changing. There is currently a considerable amount of research being carried out across the sector, covering all disciplines and ranging from highly academic to very practical contributions to our understanding of our historic environment. Research is carried out within the tertiary education sector and under the auspices of organisations such as RCAHMS and National Museums Scotland, as well as a considerable amount of research obtained through commercial activities such as those managed by Local Authorities as part of the development management process (for example, excavation in advance of development). Some research is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) which each year provides around £98 million to support research and postgraduate study in the arts and humanities in the UK (including history and archaeology). We need to ensure that the results of such research are shared more widely and that future research, where possible, is undertaken in a holistic and strategic manner to help address the most important gaps in our knowledge and understanding. This might include research:

  • On individual sites, buildings and landscapes through survey of various kinds, excavation and documentary research;
  • Into older buildings to inform policies and strategies for maintenance and the supply of skills and materials;
  • Into the economic and wider social and cultural value and impact of the historic environment, including its vital role in Scotland's tourist industry;
  • Into climate change impacts on the historic environment and prevention and mitigation measures.

We need to ensure that where practicable focused research strategies are developed (in liaison with providers and funders) to meet specific needs.

Innovative research in recording and dissemination

Light Detection and Ranging (Lidar)

Lidar is an optical remote sensing technology which involves laser scanning the ground from an aeroplane. A recent example of how this technology can be applied in relation to the historic environment is the survey carried out in relation to a wind farm proposal in Caithness. In this example the Lidar survey recorded a large number of previously unknown sites as well as providing additional information on existing sites and their settings.

Advances in Digital Technology

Advances in digital technology provide new tools that can be used to record and analyse our historic environment. For example, the Scottish Ten project uses cutting edge technology to create exceptionally accurate digital models of Scotland's five UNESCO designated World Heritage Sites and five international heritage sites in order to better conserve, manage and interpret them. One of the key aims of the project is to digitally 'preserve' important historical sites for the benefit of future generations as well as sharing Scottish technical expertise in conservation and digital visualisation.

ScARF (Scottish Archaeological Research Framework)

ScARF's aim is for everyone in Scottish archaeology to be involved in assessing what we know and where the most significant gaps are in our knowledge, so that opportunities can be found to undertake research and thus, through archaeology, to strengthen our understanding of the past. ScARF works at a strategic level, looking at broad areas of knowledge rather than finely detailed aspects.

The framework is already used in many different spheres of work within the historic environment, and helps to ensure that scarce resources are directed at the most pressing areas of research: this could apply to funding sources, but could equally apply to maximising the research value of developer-funded archaeology or setting the efforts of local enthusiasts into a national context.

While the ScARF initiative is an on-going project, Scotland now has in place an updatable framework highlighting both current research strengths within archaeology, and areas for future exploration. This enables anyone wishing to contribute to the research environment of Scotland to plan their work better, helping ensure that future research is relevant, represents greater value, and contributes effectively to our understanding of the past.

The ScARF initiative can usefully inform our approach to creating similar research frameworks into other aspects of Scotland's historic environment, with a view to developing a strategic, holistic and co-ordinated approach to research across the sector. Other examples of collaborative approached to knowledge gathering are given below:

Scotland's Rural Past (SRP) and beyond

SRP was a 5-year initiative working with local communities to research, record and promote Scotland's vanishing historic rural settlements and landscapes. Over 60 community-led projects were initiated across Scotland, involving over 1000 participants who together have greatly enhanced our understanding of our rural heritage, from Shetland to the Scottish Borders. The website continues to be maintained and is used by people across the world as a major resource for information and for training materials for community-based projects.

SRP was funded by Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Scotland, RCAHMS, Highlands & Islands Enterprises and the National Trust for Scotland. See www.scotlandsruralpast.org.uk/ for further details.

RCAHMS and Historic Scotland now want to build on the success of SRP, and have achieved a first round pass from the HLF for an ambitious 5-year successor project - Scotland's Urban Past (SUP). If the full funding bid is successful, the project will benefit urban communities across Scotland, engaging them in discovering and recording the cultural heritage of their streets, neighbourhoods, towns and cities. In particular, the project will try to reach a much broader spectrum of society, all of whose lives can be enhanced by knowing more about their local urban historic environment.

Accessible knowledge

There are many individuals and organisations with a direct involvement in Scotland's historic environment, from large organisations such as Historic Scotland, Local Authorities, RCAHMS and the NTS to smaller local based societies and volunteer groups. All public bodies take seriously the expectation that the information they produce is made available to the public. Collectively these organisations and others hold a considerable body of information about the historic environment but at present that information is too dispersed. As noted already in this strategy, partnership is at the heart of helping to realise the full potential of this collective knowledge and effort - the key here is to find a mechanism where knowledge, expertise and skills can be brought together in order to address gaps in our knowledge about the historic environment, and to make sure that our collective knowledge is as easily accessible and available as possible, and is preserved for the future.

We also need to ensure that the sector has access to authoritative, reliable and up-to-date information on the historic environment, to encourage an assumption in favour of open access to this information, and to promote active engagement to all those who wish access to it.

Scotland's Historic Environment Data (SHED) Strategy

The SHED Strategy is a sector-wide initiative to improve access to information about Scotland's historic environment. The key aim is to work in partnership in order to protect, promote and enhance Scotland's historic environment through coordinated activity to improve the data, and the associated systems and processes. The partnership includes government agencies, non-government organisations (NGOs), and academic institutions, but also supports the public's involvement in the care and enjoyment of the historic environment through better records. The initiative is an example of a complicated and diverse sector coming together to agree and deliver benefits to a wide audience.

A 10-year plan, beginning with a 3-year development phase, will deliver a more efficient process for handling these records and will increase their value through data cleansing, gap filling, more interpretation, improved access and better use of technology. The Strategy will be consistent with international, national and local policy, guidance and standards, from central and local government and more widely.

The strategy will be delivered in the development phase through partnership working between Historic Scotland, RCAHMS and Local Authority archaeology and conservation services, working where possible with Local Authority Museum Services, National Museums Scotland, and the National Trust for Scotland. The partnership will grow and be enhanced in the course of the Development Phase.

The strategy is underpinned by a series of key principles including some relating to access; curation; partnership and standards. For example, it is a fundamental principle of the strategy that SHED will be available on-line for free with a national portal to enable wider user access.


Key aim: to investigate and record our historic environment to continually develop our knowledge, understanding and interpretation of our past and how best to conserve, sustain and present it.

In support of the above key aim, we propose the following actions:

  • Work with funding bodies, including Research Councils, to consider how best to develop a strategic, co-ordinated approach to commissioning and dissemination of research across the sector - building on the ScARF model - focusing on the development of research strategies to meet the specific needs of the sector.
  • Continue to build on the SHED Strategy so that the sector can develop an integrated inventory of Scotland's historic environment, fit for the 21st century, that will provide a central resource of information for, and of, the historic environment.
  • Continue to build on the work of initiatives like Scotland's Rural Past involving and empowering people in researching and recording their physical cultural heritage, to encourage participation, and to increase knowledge and thereby understanding.
  • Develop integrated delivery of this historic environment information alongside digitised data from other national and local collections for specific user groups such as family historians and ancestral tourists, schools, and to those involved in managing change.

C - Protect: Care and Protect

Key aim: to care for and protect the historic environment in order to both enjoy and benefit from it and to conserve and enhance it for the benefit of future generations.

It is essential for future generations as well as our own that the historic environment is cared for in a sustainable way, and legally protected where appropriate. Looking after the historic environment is not only the right thing to do, it also delivers social and economic benefits. It is important that investment and expenditure on the historic environment supports our efforts on preventing problems through early intervention. Likewise refurbishment and re-use of redundant or neglected buildings can act as a major engine for change. Ultimately this is the responsibility of owners and managers but professional bodies and policy makers have a key role to play in supporting them.

The need for a holistic approach to the sustainable management of our historic environment is recognised by the World bank.[8] The report was commissioned to fill certain knowledge gaps in understanding - in particular: 1 - how investment in heritage assets created jobs and 2 - how the sense of place and uniqueness of a city could be maintained. The report was aimed at public and private sector stakeholders who design investment operations in historic city cores, heritage assets, and underutilised land in central locations. The Economics of Uniqueness concluded and recommended:

  • Balance conservation with an acceptable degree of change. Stakeholders should weigh the different values and trade-offs between conservation and development, identifying the acceptable level of change and the extent of adaptive reuse.
  • Promote a blend of regulation and incentives.Measures to conserve historic city cores and heritage assets are not limited to rules and regulation that restrict activities. Incentives are also essential for achieving "integrated conservation".
  • Ensure a dialogue between public and private sectors. Heritage is a public good and the economic justification for public sector investment is well established. But, it is unreasonable to expect the public sector to be the sole investor, and the solution is to have a combination of public and private investment, with a balance between the two, varying depending on the project scheme and context.

Holistic and Sustainable Approach

The need to balance conservation with an acceptable degree of change requires a holistic approach to understand and address the competing priorities.

The sense of place and the strong cultural identity to which the historic environment contributes, plays a large part in the maintenance and regeneration of communities and in promoting a positive image of Scotland across the world. It is therefore similarly critical to take a holistic approach to its management, acknowledging the close links between the cultural and natural elements of the environment.

The historic environment has a key role to play in regeneration for example - indeed we can build on past successes and encourage more regeneration projects that build on a clear understanding of the inherent value of the historic environment, how it has developed over time and how it can be used creatively to meet contemporary and future needs. The ongoing maintenance and, where needed, regeneration of the historic environment helps support strong, safer communities and maintains the sense of place.

It is critical that we consider how best to develop a sustainable approach to the management of our historic environment. We should be aware of the contribution made to a sustainable Scotland by the repair, maintenance, preservation and re-use of our older buildings, particularly the half-million traditionally constructed domestic buildings built before 1919. However, sustainable management of the historic environment also has an impact on the broader environment as well as bringing considerable economic and social benefits for the people of Scotland. It is vital to protect and manage our historic environment in a sustainable way so that current and future generations can understand, appreciate and benefit from it.

Examples of the social and economic benefits the historic environment brings communities

Campbeltown: A Conservation Area Regeneration Scheme (CARS) was successfully run in Campbeltown from 2007 to March 2012. A grant award of £382,500 from Historic Scotland acted as a catalyst for heritage-led regeneration. In 2009 HLF Townscape Heritage Initiative funding was secured which increased the total funding pot to £2 million, along with additional contributions from owners, ERDF, Council housing grant and others.

Kilmarnock: The economic impacts are echoed in experience in Kilmarnock where approximately 8178 m2 of space have been brought back into use. Here a significant component of the CARS scheme was the conversion of an important building, the Johnnie Walker Bonded Warehouse within the heart of the Outstanding Conservation Area. The project involved a comprehensive conservation, repair and maintenance programme to the exterior fabric of the building ensuring the longevity of this locally important building. The importance of this building and its end-use as an office accommodating 283 East Ayrshire Council employees bringing jobs into Kilmarnock Town Centre was recognised recently through the formal opening ceremony conducted by HRH The Prince of Wales on 11th May 2012.

Effective and proportionate protection and regulation

Change is an inevitable part of the dynamic of the historic environment, and how this is managed is the critical factor. It is vital to strike the right balance between development and the protection of significant historic environment assets. The planning system is one of the main mechanism in which this balance between protection and managing change must be worked out - in specific cases and in general.[9]


Local authorities lead in managing the planning system. They are already the trustees of their local historic environment on behalf of local communities and as such have a range of specific statutory duties and powers.

In order to ensure appropriate care and protection of the historic environment it is essential that designation and regulation is effective and proportionate. The government has begun to address this issue across the board through its Planning Reform and Regulatory Reform agendas both of which aim to support and achieve sustainable economic growth. The Scottish Government aims to eliminate obsolete and inefficient regulations, tackle inconsistencies in regulatory systems and enhance Scotland's competitiveness by championing the five principles of Regulatory Reform i.e. that regulation must be: proportionate; consistent; accountable; transparent; and targeted. A Bill is currently before Parliament which seeks to improve further the way regulation is developed and applied in practice across Scotland.

The vast majority of Scotland's historic buildings and archaeological sites are not designated, but once recorded are a material consideration in the planning process. Only a small percentage have the added protection of being listed or scheduled, or included in an Inventory. At present some types of asset cannot be protected as they do not meet the criteria for any of the formal designations (for example, some types of historic landscape and less tangible cultural heritage features) while some designations are less well understood and therefore less well managed than others (for example, Designed Landscapes, Battlefields and Conservation Areas). One view that emerged from the policy review was that while the current designation and regulatory system was generally fit for specific purposes it was too complicated, particularly from the lay person's perspective, and that options for greater simplification might usefully be explored.

However, although many ideas for changing the system were raised during the policy review, it was agreed that the systems are broadly fit for purpose in terms of their focus. No consensus on solutions or simplification was forthcoming. Current initiatives include removal of dual designations of assets (where a site is both listed and scheduled) with the most appropriate form being retained. The processes involved are constantly reviewed to identify streamlining and efficiencies. It is proposed to take this work forward in a collaborative working group, including Historic Scotland, Local Authority and appropriate wider representation.


Regulation is an important instrument for protecting the historic environment but is only one side of the story. Public and private investment in the fabric and management of our historic environment is necessary to help deliver our vision. However, investment priorities will inevitably need to be reviewed in light of diminishing resources to ensure they have maximum positive impact. Historic building repairs and indeed repairs to all existing buildings will improve the quality of our environment and has the potential to stimulate the economy while encouraging good practice, fostering traditional skills, and contributing to sustainability. There are a number of suggestions which could be explored further. These include making grants for listed building repair and the maintenance of monuments more widely available. Others raised revisiting the ability to reclaim VAT for repair work for example, through a Scottish repairs grant scheme;[10] Council Tax credit; income tax credit and other options as things which could be explored to help provide encouragement to owners to maintain their buildings in a good state of repair.

Some statistics on investment in the historic environment

Funding for the historic environment comes from a wide variety of sources across the public, private and voluntary sectors. The main sources are:

  • Private investment is the largest source of funding for the historic environment - for example, the best current estimate of spend on historic building repair and maintenance (including historic industrial and commercial buildings and infrastructure) is £1.1 billion.
  • The Heritage Lottery Fund awarded £29.6m in grants to 107 different heritage projects in Scotland in 2011/12, an increase in both the amount of finance awarded and the number of projects compared to 2010/11. Around 43% of all HLF funding in Scotland goes to historic environment projects.
  • CIPFA figures show that in 2011/12 local authority net expenditure on heritage (including the historic environment) was £7.6m, compared in real terms to £7.4m in 2010/11.
  • The National Trust for Scotland's total expenditure was £42.1m in 2011/12, compared to £51.2m in 2010/11 in real terms.
  • In 2011/12, the Scottish Government through Historic Scotland spent £77.9m, of which £31.5m came from income from properties in care. In real terms Historic Scotland's expenditure has decreased since 2010/11 (£82.0m) and income from properties in care has increased (£28.5m).

Ensuring Capacity

It is critical when working with historic environment assets, to have access to the right people as well as the right knowledge. This involves understanding the different roles which contribute to successful projects, but also in stressing the need for collaboration and sharing good practice and success stories.


As so much of the historic environment is owned and cherished at community level, there is a key role for community capacity building to provide more tools and assistance for owners and local communities wishing to preserve, restore or bring back into use traditional buildings. There are already many great examples of community action/groups that are already protecting local historic environment especially historic buildings. Examples include Lambhill Stables, Maryhill Burgh Halls, Catrine Voes and Braemar Castle.


The management of the historic environment has become increasingly professionalised in the last 50 years. This has been reflected in the increasing role of specialist advisers and agents. These have a critical role in sharing expertise across the range of historic environment activity. Owners and managers depend on the advice and direction of professional agents and others to ensure a high quality outcome to works to any element of the historic environment. It is essential that such professional input is accessible to those who need it, be it builders, other craftspeople, architects, engineers, archaeologists, surveyors or planners.


There is a large pool of enthusiastic volunteers in the historic environment sector in Scotland. Indeed, the voluntary sector as a whole makes a recognised and valued contribution to the historic environment, for example, by engaging with local communities and individuals; undertaking important initiatives such as coastal archaeology surveys; and acting as representative bodies for special interest groups. In addition to these 'umbrella' bodies very many local groups take an active role in recording and conserving individual sites or whole landscapes or townscapes.

We need to be able to better harness that energy and enthusiasm by enabling and empowering the voluntary sector so that it can deliver successful outcomes for the historic environment. Supporting the voluntary sector in turn supports local people in caring for and becoming involved in their own historic environment.

Counting the contribution of volunteers

This Strategy recognises and values the time that volunteers devote to the historic environment and to sharing their experience and skills. For example, Archaeology Scotland supported nearly 100 volunteers in 2011-12, who carried out 17,453 hours of work. Even at the minimum wage, this equates to an economic value of over £122,000.

Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) figures for professional contributions, show the in-kind contribution from the sector to ScARF can be estimated at £629,500, £11,000 of which comes from institutional help and commitments in terms of meeting facilities, expertise, web development and image rights. ScARF was thus able to level £3.50 of voluntary capacity for every pound of grant.


Key aim: to care for and protect the historic environment in order to both enjoy and benefit from it and to conserve and enhance it for the benefit of future generations.

In support of the above key aim, we propose the following actions:

  • Develop a set of principles to ensure that any proposed actions respond to the need to both conserve and protect the historic environment as well as realising its potential to contribute to appropriate and sustainable economic growth and development.
  • Establish a collaborative working group, including Historic Scotland, Scottish Government, COSLA and Local Authority and wider representation, with an agreed remit. The focus should be how the historic environment can be best managed, for example through existing arrangements within the planning system or community planning partnerships, taking account of ongoing Regulatory Reform, employability initiatives and existing Scottish Government place based initiatives, for example, NPF3; Cities Strategy; and, Regeneration Strategy.
  • Major owners of historic environment assets to be encouraged to collaborate and share good practice in conserving and managing their properties and collections. They should continue to explore the impact of climate change on the historic environment in order to produce the best possible information and advice on how best to look after it.
  • Develop options for working together to sustain and increase the work of the voluntary sector. In particular there will be a significant increase in emphasis on community engagement and empowerment, preparing communities to take a more active role in caring for their local historic environment.

D - Value: Share and Celebrate

Key aim: sharing and celebrating the richness and significance of our historic environment, enabling us to enjoy the fascinating and inspirational diversity of our heritage.

In order to share and celebrate our historic environment as widely as possible we must continue to build on our successes to date and find new and innovative ways of interpreting and presenting our heritage to the people of Scotland and beyond. Encouraging wide-ranging access and adopting a broad ranging learning and engagement approach to growing understanding and promoting active participation will help deliver this key aim.

Enhancing Participation

We want to see people value the historic environment as both a tourist offering but also an important community resource in its own right. This means visiting our iconic sites; but we also want more people to be able to gain an understanding and appreciation of other aspects of our historic environment.

In line with the Scottish Government's wider education and tourism policies we want to see more people, visitors to Scotland and residents alike, benefiting from access to and interpretation of the historic environment and the collections, archives and records associated with it. We want to see access improved for groups who may not currently see the full benefit of the historic environment to their quality of life.

A broad ranging approach to learning

Providing formal and informal education about the historic environment enables people of all ages to understand, enjoy and appreciate it, thus encouraging them to care for it and take an active role in its preservation and management.

Encouraging communities to engage with their historic environment leads to a sense of ownership and empowerment at the local level, which builds community cohesion, encourages active citizenship, and acts as prevention against the future cost of damage or neglect.

Providing training and support for volunteers in the skills and knowledge required to understand, record and promote the historic environment brings direct tangible results that multiply the efforts of public, private and third sector organisations.

Involving people in their historic environment encourages an understanding of national identity, provides enjoyment, and encourages well being.

Many organisations are involved in the delivery of formal education, and in community and volunteering activities around the historic environment. Some have strategies in place guiding their work. Going forward, good practice should be shared, new partnerships built, and the best possible use made of complementary resources.

Historic Scotland's Learning LAB project, based at Stirling Castle, is facilitating a personalised learner experience of a historic property and uses technology as a key tool. The pedagogical model supports learners in asking the 'ungoogleable' questions which promote higher order discussion and critical analysis. Infrastructure is also being put in place to embed the visit within a wider learning experience encompassing time in the classroom and beyond.


As one of the biggest and most resilient business sectors across the world,[11] tourism has a huge role to play in this process, and the historic environment is a key player in the Scottish tourism industry - providing both visitor attractions and employment, in rural and urban settings and across the country.

Promoting Scotland

Our historic environment is a key driver of tourism and of Scotland's international reputation:

  • The National Brands Index (2012) shows that Scotland retains a strong reputation for tourism and heritage. Out of 50 nations, Scotland is ranked 13 for tourism and 12 for being rich in historic buildings and monuments.
  • The Scottish Household Survey shows that over one in five adults had visited a historic or archaeological site in the 12 months prior to 2011.
  • Attitudes to heritage are extremely positive with more than 9 out of 10 saying that historic features are an important part of the identity of our villages, towns and cities.

The historic environment remains a strong pull for tourists and the built environment is a key cultural resource that lies at the heart of visitor experiences throughout Scotland and there is scope to develop this further. For example, the Scottish Tourism Alliance published Tourism Scotland 2020 in 2012. That strategy highlighted potential future growth areas in Scottish tourism and noted that "Scotland has strong tourism capabilities which can be used to exploit these opportunities (opportunities for growth), including: natural and built assets - quality of the landscape, natural and built heritage, city and rural, cultural, safe place". The Scottish Tourism Alliance also identified "heritage" as one of Scotland's key assets and they are taking forward work to maximise the value of these assets.


Key aim: sharing and celebrating the richness and significance of our historic environment, enabling us to enjoy the fascinating and inspirational diversity of our heritage.

In support of the above key aim, we propose the following actions:

  • Support communities across Scotland to take a more active role in understanding, protecting and valuing its historic environment.
  • Develop innovative ways, such as remote digital access, to increase levels of participation across the demographic range.
  • A Heritage Tourism Group including Historic Scotland, Visit Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, National Trust for Scotland and Historic Houses Association has been formed to consider how best to make full and effective use of our heritage assets to promote Scotland to domestic and international audiences and thus grow the overall value of heritage tourism in Scotland. The partners will work closely together and with local government and the national cultural collections.
  • To ensure we are capturing the value of the historic environment to people's quality of life, the new merged body (HS/RCAHMS) will work with partners in the heritage and wider culture sectors and with all parts of the education sector, to explore scope for more joining up; measuring impact; enhancing volunteering activity; and broadening access across the social spectrum.