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12 February 2018

Historic Environment Scotland unveils new Investment Plan

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has today (Monday 12 February) unveiled an investment plan for some of Scotland’s most iconic historic sites.

A photograph of a castle with two hills and a bright blue sky in the background.

Backed by investment of £12 million in 2018/19, the plan sets out an investment programme scheduled to run until 2021/22 which will enhance the condition of sites and improve the experience of visitors.

HES has already made a significant investment in 2017/18 on the upkeep and improvement of its estate. This work including important conservation projects at sites such as Midhowe in Orkney, Dunkeld Cathedral and Dumbarton Castle as well as the upgrade of heating, toilets and lighting systems at various properties across the HES 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.

A photograph of a man and a woman wearing white hard hats and yellow high visibility jackets, standing in front of a historic church building

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, visited Dunkeld Cathedral last year to see the impact of increased investment in the conservation of Scotland’s heritage assets.

Based on current and projected income levels, HES is looking to allocate a similar level of annual investment across each year of the planned programme. The investment plan will be delivered over and above the current profile of business as usual activity.

The investment plan is being published alongside HES’ first Asset Management Plan which outlines its approach to caring for over 300 properties and collections in its care, including sites such as Linlithgow Palace, Skara Brae on Orkney and Stirling Castle.

Introducing the plans, HES Chief Executive 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."

"We’ve already effectively started our investment programme, with many projects already underway across the country and are in a strong position to deliver on the identified priorities designed to help bring social, economic and environmental benefits for Scotland."

Overall, 20 sites across its estate are earmarked as priority for investment under the plan. Projects planned as part of the new investment plan include 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 allowing visitors to collect historical animations related to the castle and its adjacent nature trail.

A photograph of a castle surrounded by water, with a blue sky and green grass.

Visitors to Caerlaverock Castle will be treated to an on-site augmented reality experience after the launch of a new HES mobile app.

The visitor experience at Doune Castle in Perthshire - which doubles as the fictional Castle Leoch in the hit TV show Outlander – will also be enhanced thanks to new external lighting around the site and an introductory exhibition on its history, based in the castle vaults. The Castle’s shop was also upgraded last year to become a larger more customer friendly retail outlet.

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.

A black and white photograph of a building with a shop front. Children on bicycles and and people looking in windows are walking past.

The new Investment Plan outlines how even more of the HES archives will be made available to the public.

The plans also highlight the organisation’s increasing use of cutting edge, 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.

Welcoming the new plans, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said: "During the past two financial years the Scottish Government has committed additional capital funding of around £6 million to support the conservation and management of properties in care.

"I am now pleased to see this plan for investment in our historic environment, and the infrastructure supporting Historic Environment Scotland’s wider visitor offer, which offers such a strong return for our economy, directly generating £528 million in 2017, and supporting an estimated 15,300 full time jobs in Scotland."

The Asset Management Plan and Investment Plan build on Historic Environment Scotland’s successful Corporate Plan for 2015-2018, For All of Our Futures, and the Scottish Government’s priorities for economic development.

Download Investment Plan 2018

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • We are the lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. We will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland is a sub brand of HES.
  • Keep up to date by registering for media release email alerts. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us.

About our Investment Plan

Based on current and projected income levels, HES is looking to allocate a similar level of annual investment across each year of the planned programme, resulting in a projected outlay of £40 million over the duration of the current programme up to 2021/22.  

The investment plan sits additional to HES’ baseline operating budget, and will be delivered over and above the organisation’s plan for business as usual activity. Although confident of maintaining current income levels, should income fall below anticipated levels, not all proposed investment can be progressed. The plan is therefore pragmatic, balancing identified investment needs with realistic income assumptions


The Investment Plan and the accompanying Asset Management Plan come on the back of the publication in January 2017 of the most comprehensive conservation assessment ever undertaken on properties in the care of Scottish Ministers, which provided a comprehensive picture of the condition of more than 300 properties managed by Historic Environment Scotland on behalf of Ministers. In tandem with the publication Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop confirmed a £6 million capital boost to support investment in conservation work, repairs and visitor facilities at several of Scotland’s iconic heritage sites and monuments.

Priority Investment sites

Top 20 sites earmarked in the plan for investment in terms of either condition improvement and/or enhancement of visitor experience are:

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Glasgow Cathedral
  • Urquhart Castle
  • Linlithgow Palace
  • Holyrood Park
  • Doune Castle
  • St Andrews Cathedral
  • Fort George
  • Melrose Abbey
  • Caerlaverock Castle
  • Stirling Castle
  • Dallas Dhu Distillery
  • Craigmillar Castle
  • Duff House
  • Iona Abbey
  • Tantallon Castle
  • Kilchurn Castle
  • Blackness Castle
  • Dumbarton Castle
  • Arbroath Abbey


The six key areas for investment under the plan are:

  • Conservation
    Conservation and maintenance of HES properties in care and collections
  • Visitor Facing
    Retail, catering, admission and interpretation - experience. Visitor toilets
  • Property
    HES archive and PIC collections, John Sinclair House and Longmore House depots and stores
  • Corporate
    Other investment requirements including ERDM
  • Properties In Care infrastructure
    Non historic infrastructure – roads, piers, car parks, water courses, footpaths…
  • Mechanical & Electrical
    Non historic Mechanical and electrical systems, gas, water, waste, BMS, renewables


Four objectives of the Asset Management Plan:

  • Deliver conservation improvement and infrastructure
  • Maintain and enhance the visitor experience
  • Understand and perpetuate cultural significance
  • Deliver wider benefits and opportunities

Year of Young People 2018

The Year of Young People (YoYP 2018) will inspire Scotland through its young people aged 8 to 26, celebrating their achievements, valuing their contributions to communities and creating new opportunities for them to shine locally, nationally and globally. Over 200 young people throughout Scotland will become #YOYP2018 Ambassadors, ensuring their communities know about local opportunities to celebrate young people.

Year of Young People 2018 logo

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For further information, please contact:

Barry McPherson 
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
Direct Line: 0131 668 8097
Mobile: 07813 357 722
barry.mcpherson@hes.scot

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