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27 March 2024

Historic Environment Scotland urges people to consider heritage careers

Blacksmiths and stonemasons among crucial heritage jobs needed to support Scotland’s historic assets

A woman wearing HES branded bib and brace overalls, protective glasses and ear defenders

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is urging people of all ages to consider a career in the heritage sector to help boost the current and future workforce needed to protect Scotland’s historic environment.

Heritage sector careers are unique in the way they operate, bringing forward traditional skills used centuries ago and combining them with cutting-edge technology and modern ways of working to conserve incredible structures and produce 3D models and immersive site maps.

Stonemasons, blacksmiths and digital innovators are among the crucial roles that play a part in maintaining Scotland’s historic environment and ensuring the nation’s treasured heritage continues to be enjoyed for generations to come. These skilled workers are transforming the way in which we interact with our heritage through lifelike rendering and photogrammetry – vital work in the face of climate change.

As part of a new campaign, ‘I Make History, launched to raise awareness about the opportunities to develop traditional and new skills within the heritage sector, HES is encouraging more people to take up a career in protecting and maintaining Scotland’s historic environment and keep ancient practices thriving in a modern world.

A survey commissioned by HES found significant support for traditional and heritage-related skills, with 83% of respondents stating it’s important for young people to be taught traditional skills in school.  Encouragingly, two-thirds of respondents said they are interested in a career in the heritage sector, with existing skilled workers most likely to be interested.

Alex Paterson, chief executive at HES said:

"It’s vital we train and retain traditional and emerging skills for the heritage sector and the benefit of Scotland’s past, present, and future. We need more young people to think about coming into the sector from school, college, or university. And we need more skilled workers and those seeking a career change to consider switching sectors.

"The heritage sector provides rewarding career opportunities, and it makes a real difference to Scotland’s rich historic environment. Traditional skills are essential to Scotland's retrofitting efforts, with approximately one in five homes in Scotland being built pre-1919, these skills will play a pivotal role in our journey to achieving net zero targets. By further integrating green practices and innovative technologies, the historic environment contributes to a greener, more sustainable future while delivering economic benefits through jobs, tourism and local business opportunities.

Sophia Mirashrafi is a Senior Digital Innovation Officer at HES, responsible for digitally mapping ancient sites and artefacts to create 3D representations and prints, enhancing the ways we interact with historic assets. Sophia came to Scotland to complete a degree, fell in love with Scotland’s past and stayed to take the job with HES.

Sophia said:

“I get to crawl around in really cool places across Scotland, such as Maeshowe, which is a chambered tomb in Orkney, and Skara Brae, a 5,000 year old village on the same island. While at these world heritage sites, I’m down on my hands and knees crawling along corridors to access all the nooks and crannies for digital mapping. Some of the walls are even covered in Viking graffiti.”

Drawing inspiration from gaming and photography industries, Sophia uses her skills in digital mapping and photogrammetry and applies them across the heritage sector, creating a blend of old and new in traditional trades such as stonemasonry.

Luke Maher, a HES stonemason, uses traditional ways of working to conserve historic properties for our future. He was part of the team responsible for transporting the Stone of Destiny for King Charles’ coronation, and he’s worked on the Antonine Wall, which sits at the site of what was once the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire nearly 2,000 years ago.

Luke said:

“I get to work at some of Scotland’s most beautiful properties and take care of our history on a daily basis. It’s been life-changing - it’s given me a career and a trade that I can take all over the world.”

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES) 

  • We are the lead body for Scotland’s historic environment, a charity dedicated to the advancement of heritage, culture, education and environmental protection. It is at the forefront of researching and understanding the historic environment and addressing the impacts of climate change on its future, investigating and recording architectural and archaeological sites and landscapes across Scotland and caring for more than 300 properties of national importance. We are also the lead on delivering Scotland's strategy for the historic environment, Our Past, Our Future.
  • Historic Scotland, Scran, Canmore, The National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP), The Engine Shed, Stirling Castle, and Edinburgh Castle are sub-brands of HES.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering to receive our media releases. Already registered? You can unsubscribe at any time by following the unsubscribe link, included in every email.

Follow HES

X: @HistEnvScot | @welovehistory
Facebook: @HistoricEnvScotland | @VisitHistoricScotland
Instagram: @HistEnvScot | @historicscotland

For further information, please contact:

Dara Browne
Clark Communications
07458 932 723


Julia Woolman
Historic Environment Scotland Media Office
07721 959 962