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20 December 2016

Health check shows Scotland’s heritage sector in top shape

New report shows Historic Environment remains key contributor to Scotland’s economy and identity

A photograph of a castle silhouetted as the sun sets behind it.
Linlithgow Palace at sunset

Scotland’s historic environment is a crucial part of the nation’s economic and social wellbeing, according to a report published today (20th December).

The 2016 Scotland’s Historic Environment Audit (SHEA) provides detailed insight into the economic benefits, investment levels and current condition of Scotland’s historic monuments and listed buildings. Compiled by Historic Environment Scotland (HES) in conjunction with Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) and Jura Consultants, the audit draws upon current data and research to provide a health check for the nation’s heritage sector.

Almost 15 million tourists visited historic attractions in 2015, allowing the sector to support over 55,000 jobs and contributing over £2.3 Billion annually to Scotland’s economy.

Other key findings of the 2016 report include:  

  • £1.2billion (including grants) was spent on repairing and maintaining the historic environment in 2015/16 alone – from private individuals, public and voluntary organisations

  • Historic Environment Scotland invested £140 million in the historic environment between 2006 and 2016 which assisted repairs worth over £591million – benefiting communities across Scotland

  • Scotland’s historic environment boasts over 56,000 protected sites/places and is informed by around 1.6 million pieces of heritage information

  • The sector attracts over 17,000 volunteers a year – generating reciprocal benefits

  • 89% of adults agreed “it’s important to me that heritage buildings and places are well looked after.”

  • Those who visited historic sites were over 50% more likely to report high life satisfaction.

  • Scotland’s international reputation for tourism and heritage remains strong, with the latest Nations Brand Index ranking it 12 out of 50 nations for its reputation of being rich in cultural heritage.

Karen Robertson, Senior Research Manager, with Historic Environment Scotland, said:

“SHEA is a compendium of data drawing on current research to provide a clear picture of the historic environment sector.  SHEA 2016 is the 5th edition (first edition 2008).It provides information to inform planning and decision making, as well as evidence to measure the delivery of Our Place in Time – the historic environment Strategy for Scotland.

"We publish SHEA on a biennial basis, and it’s great to see that since the 2014 report the sector has remained in a strong position, with increases in both visitors and investment. This comprehensive list of data can now be used by organisations across the heritage sector to inform their future work.”

Euan Leitch, Director of BEFS, said, “The SHEA provides invaluable details on the range and level of activity within Scotland’s historic environment. BEFS will be using the data to highlight the value heritage brings to communities across Scotland and look at areas where the heritage sector could focus attention.” 

The 2016 Scottish Historic Environment Audit is available to download from the Historic Environment Scotland website.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

2016 is the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design (IAD). Through a series of exciting events and activity, the year will showcase Scotland's position as an "innovation nation", its outstanding built heritage, and its thriving, internationally acclaimed creative industries sector. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and supported by a variety of partners.

Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016

Follow Historic Environment Scotland

Twitter: @HistEnvScot | @welovehistory 

Facebook: @HistoricEnvScotland @VisitHistoricScotland


For further information, please contact:

Ali George
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8714
Mobile: 07583 018 790