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7 December 2016

Scotland makes history

A Great Roman Bake-Off, large scale projections of Viking imagery, a live archaeological dig of St Kilda in Minecraft and a colourful international weaving festival are just a few of the events lined up to make history in 2017.

Calanais Standing stones at sunset

With over one third of visitors drawn to Scotland for its history and culture, VisitScotland has hailed the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology as an exciting opportunity to relive Scotland’s fascinating past through a range of events and activities.

Launched today by Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop at Mary King’s Close in Edinburgh, the year will inspire visitors to #FaceThePast, in new and innovative ways.

Scotland's six World Heritage Sites are painted on the faces of models


Scotland’s six WHS painted on models faces

Highlights of the programme (which includes both brand new events and new programmes within existing events) include a spectacular sound and light projection event at New Lanark World Heritage Site to bring to life the mill as it was in the heart of the Industrial Revolution (Shining Lives).The Heart of Neolithic Orkney will “Glow in the ArchaeoDark” on World Heritage Day with interactive storytelling, music, food and glow-in-the-dark paint (Scotland in Six). And a unique event in the Outer Hebrides will celebrate the islands’ rich South Asian history with music and art collaboration, exhibitions and performances (Purvai).

With ancestral tourism worth £101 million to the economy, the Scottish Clan Event Fund is supporting nine more events throughout 2017 to the value of £37,800, including:

  • Clan Maclean International Gathering (20-25 June 2017)
  • Burnett Gathering (31 Jul - 5 Aug 2017)
  • Clan Hay ‘Tartan Ties’ (3-6 August 2017)
  • Clan MacPherson Annual Gathering (4-7 August 2017)
  • Stewart Highland Games (8 July 2017)
  • Clan Carmichael International Gathering (21-26 August 2017)
  • Elliot Gathering (24-27 August 2017)
  • Clan MacThomas Gathering 2017 (25-29 August 2017)
  • Clan Lamont Society Annual Gathering: ‘Hands Across the Seas’ (1-3 Sept 2017)

The year also provides the opportunity to promote and celebrate a much wider programme of events celebrating Scotland’s history, heritage and archaeology. Partner events within the year include Scot:Lands, which kicks off the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology celebrations on 1 January with an adventurous journey across Edinburgh’s Old Town, closely followed by Celtic Connections (19 Jan – 5 Feb) -the UK's premier celebration of Celtic music. And at the end of January, the national bard will come into focus with Robert Burns events celebrating the poet’s rich history.

In April (1-16) Edinburgh International Science Festival will celebrate Scotland’s Themed Year with Moments in Time – a family friendly outdoor installation, situated on the Mound featuring a series of iconic Scottish police boxes that will ‘transport’ visitors back in time to pivotal moments in Scotland’s scientific history.

Over the summer season, visitors and residents alike can soak up Scottish historical culture with the Festival of Museums (May), a major Bonnie Prince Charlie and the Jacobite exhibition at the National Museum of Scotland (June – Nov) and in August, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo will unite with the Scottish Diaspora to create a ‘Splash of Tartan’.

Scotland will be celebrating a number of significant anniversaries through the historical year including the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as a world leading festival city (with early celebrations beginning at Edinburgh Hogmanay’s Midnight Moment), the 20th anniversary of Scottish Crannog Centre, 250th anniversary of Edinburgh New Town Plan, 30th anniversary of Beltane Fire Society and the 400th anniversary of the General Register of Sasines –the oldest public land register in the world.

Alex Paterson, Chief Executive of Historic Environment Scotland, said:

It’s great to come together today to launch a themed year that is so closely linked with the work of Historic Environment Scotland. It’s fantastic to have so many partners working collaboratively to help make sure our country’s history and heritage is understood, protected, valued and enjoyed. To celebrate the year, we’ll be running a range of activities, including a fantastic events programme with some brand new events, launching new research projects including one exploring Scotland’s prehistoric rock art, and asking people to think about what history they care about with our ‘What’s Your Heritage?’ campaign.”

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs said:

“We are so fortunate in Scotland to have the most fascinating and inspiring history and heritage on our doorsteps, bringing the spirit of Scotland alive. The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology will highlight and showcase our history and heritage to the world and I am very pleased to have today announced nine of the events being supported by the £300,000 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology Signature Events Fund.”

“As well as our history of many well-known stories and famous, indeed some infamous, historical characters, next year will also give us an excellent opportunity to focus on Scotland’s world-renowned archaeology, enticing visitors and locals alike to visit not only our known iconic landmarks with their thousands of years of history, but also our many hidden gems.”

Malcolm Roughead, Chief Executive of VisitScotland said:

“Scotland is the land where great legends were made throughout history, and so it is only apt that we should have such a unique line-up of events and activities for the 2017 Year of History Heritage and Archaeology.

“We know for a fact that visitors come to Scotland in their droves to experience its heritage whether that’s visiting a castle, exploring a battlefield or tracing ancestral roots.From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends – the year-long programme will spotlight some of our greatest assets and icons as well as our hidden gems. We look forward to delving into Scotland’s past with visitors and locals alike and coming face to face with history, heritage and archaeology across the country.”

As a main partner, the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting the year with a dedicated programme called Stories, Stones and Bones. The £1/2million fund will encourage people in communities across the country to uncover and celebrate their local history, customs and traditions.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the lead public body for Scotland’s historic environment, will also be carrying out research work, increasing its programme of living history events across the country from Duff House to Edinburgh Castle, and training Scotland’s young people in the provision of traditional skills that will help protect Scotland’s historic buildings now and for the future.

Lucy Casot, Head of Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:

“Our ambition next year is that everyone, young and old, will have the chance to discover something new about the rich tapestry that makes Scotland, Scotland. The door to fun, discovery and learning will be opened wide welcoming in locals and visitors alike. Whether its enjoying one of these incredible Signature celebrations, or getting involved in one of the many community-level projects, funded through the National Lottery, 2017 is up shaping up to be an exciting celebration of our shared identity and we are delighted to be a key part of that.”

The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 will begin on 1 January 2017 and end on 31 December 2017. For more information, please visit: www.visitscotland.com/hha2017

The launch hashtag is #FaceThePast and the hashtag for the year is #HHA2017

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017

2017 is the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology (HHA), a year that will celebrate Scotland’s people, our distinct culture and traditions, our historic landscapes, attractions and icons as well as our hidden gems and amazing stories. From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to historic battlefields, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends, 2017 is the year to explore Scotland’s fascinating past. This is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland and a variety of partners.

Get involved on Twitter with #HHA2017

Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 logo

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 

Kate Turnbull 
VisitScotland Corporate Press Manager
Direct Line: 0131 472 2324