Historic Environment Scotland launches investment plan

Historic Environment Scotland has launched a four-year plan to improve its sites and the experience of visitors that includes a £12m ($16.6m) investment in 2018.  

The investment plan runs through 2022 and will enhance the condition of Historic Environment Scotland (HES) sites, while also improving visitor experience. HES hopes to invest a similar amount each year of the planned programme.

Overall, 20 sites across the HES estate are earmarked as a priority under the plan. These include the ongoing enhancement to facilities and amenities at Edinburgh Castle, repair work on the main Spire at Glasgow Cathedral and an augmented reality app for Caerlavarock Castle, which will allow visitors to collect historical animations related to the castle and its adjacent nature trail.

The visitor experience at Doune Castle in Perthshire – which doubles as the fictional Castle Leoch in the TV show Outlander – will also be enhanced by new external lighting around the site and an introductory exhibition on its history, based in the castle vaults.

In addition, HES will invest in the further digitisation of its archives, including the photography collection from the former Countryside Commission for Scotland of Rural Buildings from the 1970s – a collection never before available to the public.

The plans also highlight the organisation’s increasing use of technology to conserve and manage its assets and estate, including the use of digital applications in areas such as research and surveying, and how it mitigates climate change impacts across its estate.

Other projects already underway as part of the ongoing investment include the installation of CCTV and improvements to interpretation materials at sites as well as the development of virtual reality experiences for visitors and a new pontoon and boats at Lochleven Castle.

HES CEO Alex Paterson said: “These are ambitious plans which will set new standards for the care of our properties and provide world class visitor attractions with outstanding visitor experiences.

“We’re building on the success of recent years which have seen record numbers of visitors to many of Scotland’s historic sites.”

HES is a public body charged with the investigation, care and promotion of 336 historic sites in Scotland.

Image: c. Historic Environment Scotland.