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1 September 2022

Boost for communities as Scottish heritage projects awarded funding

Latest Historic Environment Support Fund recipients include a project to celebrate the oldest elm tree in Europe.

A gnarled tree in front of the ruins of Beauly Priory

A monument dedicated to a descendant of Robert the Bruce, a project to celebrate the oldest elm tree in Europe and the development of heritage trails in the Highlands are some of the latest projects set to benefit from funding from Historic Environment Scotland (HES).  

A total of £98,988 has been awarded to nine heritage projects as part of the Historic Environment Support Fund, administered by HES. The projects will benefit communities in the Highlands, Angus, Falkirk, Edinburgh, East Lothian, the Borders and Dumfries and Galloway.

As part of the funding, Falkirk Council has been awarded £32,500 to repair the Bruce Obelisk and reinstate it to its original position atop the Kinnaird family tomb in the Larbert Old Parish Church Graveyard. The obelisk, made by the Carron Company, is a monument to James Bruce of Kinnaird - a descendant of Robert the Bruce and Mary Dundas. 

The Prince’s Foundation has been awarded £20,000 for its Building Craft Programme which provides training in heritage craft skills to ensure the preservation of the historic environment.

Circus Artspace has been awarded £2,500 for a community project to celebrate and showcase the heritage and cultural value of the historic Beauly Wych Elm tree. The tree is located in the grounds of Beauly Priory and is believed to be the oldest tree of its type in Europe. 

A project in Drumnadrochit, Strathglass and Soirbhreas will receive funding towards a developing heritage trails including installing interpretation, producing a leaflet, and supporting a programme of events. 

The Historic Environment Support Fund is used to support a variety of one-off, heritage-related projects in Scotland and has been running since 2016, with over £1 million distributed since it was launched.   

Amy Eastwood, Head of Grants at HES, said:

“We’re pleased to support the recipients with almost £100,000 funding as part of the Historic Environment Support Fund.

These projects bring positive contributions to communities throughout Scotland – from traditional skills training to engaging the public with our history and heritage.

I look forward to seeing the works and activities unfold over the next 12 months.” 

Funding has been awarded to the following projects:  

Falkirk Council, central Scotland: £32,500
To repair the nationally significant Bruce Obelisk and reinstate it to its original position atop the Kinnaird family tomb within the Larbert Old Parish Church Graveyard. The Bruce Obelisk is a cast iron structure made by the locally based Carron Company, an internationally significant business at the heart of the industrial revolution in Scotland. A monument to James Bruce of Kinnaird, a descendent of Robert the Bruce, and Mary Dundas, it is one of the key assets within the Church graveyard. 

Falkirk Council Leader Cecil Meiklejohn said: “We are excited that Historic Environment Scotland are joining the partnership to restore this iron monument in Larbert which is an important part of the area’s rich industrial heritage. This project will contribute to bringing the story of the world-famous Carron Works back to life”.

The Princes Foundation, nationwide: £20,000 
To support the Princes Foundation’s Building Craft Programme which provides training in heritage craft skills and aims to ensure the preservation of the historic environment through practical workshops and industry placements.

The course offers an eight-month programme of applied study to 12 craftspeople at the beginning of their careers, providing them with an opportunity to enhance their design knowledge and their experience in traditional and sustainable building crafts as well as providing the opportunity to work towards a Level 3 NVQ in Heritage Skills. 

Michael Goodger, Built Environment Education Manager at The Prince’s Foundation said; “We are incredibly grateful to have been awarded funding from Historic Environment Scotland via their Historic Environment Support Fund for our Building Craft Programme. With a particular focus on the use of traditional skills and conservation methods the programme supports those working in the construction sector to push their skills to the next level and continue their journey to becoming the next generation of master craftspeople. The Prince’s Foundation believe that it is crucial to preserve the wisdom and knowledge that embodies many of the traditional building skills which have shaped our historical built environment. As many workers in the sector now reach retirement age it is vital that these skills are passed on to the next generation of master craftspeople.”

Soirbhreas, Highlands: £15,700
To support a project to develop heritage trails for the Drumnadrochit and Strathglass areas. The funding will support the development of interpretation for the trails, producing a leaflet and additional content for websites. It will also support a programme of events for the walking festival and install way markers and QR codes at the sites to provide further information. 

Carol Masheter, Soirbheas Community Development Officer.  said: “This grant award will allow Soirbheas an exciting opportunity to work with local groups, schools, the wider community and visitors, bringing our rich heritage to the forefront and celebrating some hidden gems.”

The owner of a thatched cottage, Borders: £14,808
To rethatch an 18th century C-listed cottage in Yetholm to ensure the longevity of the listed building whilst maintaining traditional and local skills. 

The owner of a thatched cottage, Angus and Dundee: £5,475 
To rethatch an 18th century B-listed thatched cottage in Longforgan in order to help restore the integrity of the building. 

Dumfries and Galloway Council, Dumfries and Galloway: £5,000 
To support the Rhins Revealed project which will record, investigate and present the archaeology of the Rhins peninsula of Dumfries and Galloway to provide participants and the wider public with a greater understanding and appreciation of the archaeological history of the area. The project will involve volunteers and will provide opportunities for training and engagement. As part of the project, excavations at the Mull of Galloway earthworks – believed to comprise the largest Iron Age enclosure in Scotland – are proposed. 

Peter Ross, Chair of the Rhins Revealed Steering Group said; ‘We are delighted to receive this award from the Historic Environment Support Fund. It will allow us to get volunteers involved in excavations at the Mull of Galloway, helping to confirm the date of the enigmatic earthworks and gain a better understanding of the site and its importance.”

Circus Artspace, Highlands: £2,500 
To encourage participation from the local community around Beauly in a project that will work in partnership with local groups to celebrate and showcase the heritage and cultural value of the historic Wych Elm tree which is located within the grounds of Beauly Priory and is the oldest tree of its type in Europe. The project will aim to bring together the local community with artists, writers and partnership organisations to discover, celebrate and share stories, memories and archive material and research about the tree. Public engagement events will take place and a publication will be developed and distributed. 

Kirsten Body, of Circus Artspace said: “We are working in collaboration with artist Isabel McLeish to celebrate this important Wych Elm tree, which has been described as ‘living archaeology’. Sadly, the tree is dying of Dutch Elm Disease and had its last buds in 2021. Our forthcoming event on 24th September, as part of Year of Stories 2022, brings together a new commissioned text from Highland writer Mandy Haggith as well as other invited tree health experts Phil Baarda (NatureScot) and Max Coleman (Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh).

“We are very grateful to Historic Environment Scotland for their support accessing Beauly Priory and this opportunity for us to develop a community archive and maintain the legacy around this ancient tree.”

1722 Waggonway Heritage Group, East Lothian: £2,480 
To deliver a geophysics training workshop alongside community archaeology excavations in Cockenzie. The project will provide volunteers including military veterans with two days training in ground penetrating radar surveying including giving a technical background to surveying. It is hoped that the survey results will contribute to the appropriate conservation and long-term sustainable management of the Cockenzie Harbour.  

Ed Bethune, Chair of the Waggonway Project said: “We’re delighted to receive funding to help us develop the archaeological record of Cockenzie Harbour through this geophysical survey. The added opportunity to provide opportunities for veterans and project volunteers to learn new skills is hugely satisfying. Our work with Wessex Archaeology is key to this project and we thank them for their expertise and support.”

City of Edinburgh Council, Edinburgh: £525
To support the delivery of the Edinburgh, Lothians and Borders Archaeology Conference which is held annually at Queen Margaret University in November. The conference provides a platform to showcase current archaeological fieldwork and research being carried out in south-east Scotland and is open to both the public and professionals. 

Culture and Communities Convener, Councillor Val Walker said: “I would like to thank Historic Environment Scotland for their grant in support of our 2022 Edinburgh, Lothians, and Borders Archaeology Conference which is set to celebrate its 20th anniversary later this year. The conference will highlight the diverse and varied work undertaken by a wide range of archaeologists in the region. The past is a bridge to the present and conferences like these provided vital insight into our historical heritage and an opportunity for all those interested in our past to meet and discover more.”

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