Orkney’s heritage assets were the focal point of discussions by key stakeholders today (Friday 10th February), in a roundtable discussion chaired by Historic Environment Scotland (HES).

The meeting was held to discuss long term plans and opportunities for Orkney’s history, heritage and archaeology sector. Attendees included representatives from Orkney Islands Council, HIE, VisitScotland, Orkney College UHI, Scottish Natural Heritage, Orkney Tourism Group and MSP Liam McArthur.

The meeting follows on from the recent agreement with Orkney Islands Council that HES will lease Stenness Day Centre, using the building as an operational base to run shuttle bus tours for pre-paying visitors to Maeshowe Chambered Cairn. The agreement will see the centre leased for the next two years whilst HES, in consultation with partner organisations, look at options for sustainable, long term access to the Neolithic site in conjunction with wider opportunities for Orkney’s heritage tourism offering. 

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of HES, who chaired today’s meeting said,

“I’m pleased to have been able to welcome partners from across Orkney today to what proved to be some very productive discussions on opportunities for protecting and promoting the history, heritage and archaeology of the islands."

"We also had a good session with local tourism operators yesterday, and it’s clear there is a lot of passion here not just for the places in the care of HES, but for the whole World Heritage site. It’s encouraging to hear from partners who are keen to work with us to ensure the best possible visitor experience, whilst also protecting the island’s heritage for the future."

Councillor James Stockan, Chair of the OIC Development and Infrastructure Committee, said: “This was a valuable opportunity to engage with interested parties on working on longer-term solutions for tourist management in the World Heritage Site that ensure maximum economic benefit. It comes at a good time as we’ll be considering a series of reports around this at our next meeting of our Policy and Resources Committee.”

The meeting came in the week where the lease for Stenness Day Centre was signed. A planning application for change of use and to make changes to the visitor car park and on-site signage was submitted and validated on 20th January, and can be viewed on OIC’s website.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

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