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13 April 2016

Urban detectives sought to record a piece of Scotland’s history

Town and city dwellers are being asked to get hands on with history by taking part in a nationwide initiative to record the littlest local landmarks in Scotland’s urban areas.

A magnifying glass held over an ordnance survey map of Prestonpans in East Lothian.

Town and city dwellers are being asked to get hands on with history by taking part in a nationwide initiative to record the littlest local landmarks in Scotland’s urban areas.

The initiative comes from Scotland’s Urban Past (SUP), a five-year community-engagement project from Historic Environment Scotland that puts local communities in charge of recording the history on their doorsteps, and is part of the celebrations for the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.

Volunteers can become ‘Urban Detectives’ by submitting photographs and location coordinates of tiny buildings in Scotland’s towns and cities to the SUP website. Users are also invited to take measurements and sketches, all of which will become part of Canmore, Scotland’s online record of architecture, archaeology and industry.

This national record is a digital time machine, holding images and information about more than 320,000 sites in Scotland. Now, SUP is asking local Urban Detectives to contribute their own images and information about Scottish places – starting with the smallest buildings in the nation’s towns and cities.

Chiara Ronchini, SUP Project Manager, said: "People throughout Scotland will be bringing our national collection to life by telling the big stories of our tiniest buildings.”

"Our dedicated digital team have made it easy to contribute information to Canmore on mobiles and tablets, as well as PCs and Macs, so you can even add a snapshot of local landmarks such as police boxes, beach hurts and signal boxes on your way to work.”

“Every contribution will be accessible to the wider public, helping to build a detailed and accessible history of our urban heritage by the people who live within it. It’s a great opportunity to help document your town or city, past and present, for generations to come."

SUP provides free training, support and resources to people of all ages to help them discover and share the fascinating stories of Scotland’s towns and cities.

Free workshops for Urban Detectives will be taking place throughout Scotland. For more information, visit www.scotlandsurbanpast.org.uk.

SUP is supported by the National Lottery with a grant of £1.65m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Find out how to become an Urban Detective in 5 easy steps with our short video: 

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5 steps to becoming an Urban Detective:

  1. Choose your site. Anything from telephone boxes to allotment sheds – the choice is yours.
  2. Investigate. Discover the story of your site through archives, maps, books and photographs.
  3. Record. Measure, sketch, photograph or survey your site for future generations.
  4. Register and contribute. Visit www.scotlandsurbanpast.org.uk to add your information.
  5. Share. Your contributions become publicly accessible in the National Record of the Built Environment and Canmore.

About Historic Environment Scotland (HES)

  • As of the 1st October 2015, Historic Scotland and RCAHMS came together to form a new lead public body charged with caring for, protecting and promoting the historic environment. The new body Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will lead on delivering Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.
  • Historic Scotland is a sub brand of HES.
  • View our press pack and keep up to date by registering for media release email alerts. If you wish to unsubscribe, please contact us.

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

Bryony Jackson
Scotland’s Urban Past
Direct Line: 0131 651 6736