Nine in 10 people in the Highlands and Islands say local heritage makes them feel proud to be from the area
Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is calling for people throughout the Highlands and Islands to be part of history and help shape the next strategy for Scotland’s historic environment.
The organisation has been charged with updating the existing ‘Our Place in Time’ (OPiT) strategy by Neil Gray, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development.
As part of this, HES has opened a consultation for people throughout Scotland to feed into the development of the strategy, which will provide future direction for Scotland’s historic environment sector.
Scotland’s historic environment represents a vital part of the country’s economy, generating £117 million through tourism alone in the 2021-22 fiscal year.
It also supports employment, and the development of skills and contributes to a number of agendas from climate change through areas including supporting the retrofit of existing historic building stock, to providing well-being benefits and outreach and educational opportunities.
The sector also contributes to a number of key agendas in the Scottish Government’s strategic objectives set out in the National Performance Framework.
Adam Jackson, Head of Strategy and Policy at HES, said:
“We know people throughout the Highlands and Islands have strong feelings around Scotland’s heritage – we recently learned that 90% of people in the area said local heritage makes them feel proud to be from the region.
“Given the diversity of the sector and the different ways in which this can manifest itself, we’re calling on them to make their voices heard and help us continue to champion Scotland’s past to make a better present and future against core agendas which have an impact on people’s lives, from economic recovery to equality and climate change.”
In preparation for refreshing the OPiT strategy, HES surveyed people throughout the country to hear their views on heritage.
The majority of Scots have strong feelings about heritage, saying it makes them feel proud (60%) and more connected to Scotland (81%).
“It’s important to remember that Scotland’s heritage doesn’t just refer to iconic tourist attractions although these of course are hugely important.
“It encompasses a number of different aspects and contributions which impact people’s lives.
“It’s interesting that more than half (60%) of people we surveyed said their identity would be negatively affected if we lost Scotland’s heritage: it really is a pillar of our sense of self.
“Heritage impacts people, places and organisations in many different ways and this is a really important opportunity to have your voice heard as we set out the future direction for one of Scotland’s best-known assets.”
The OPiT strategy was first developed in 2014 and sets out a vision of how Scotland’s historic environment can be understood, cared for, valued and enjoyed.
The consultation is open until 20 February 2023. To take part, visit the HES website.