About Us

Volunteer with us

Share our passion for protecting, researching and celebrating Scotland’s historic environment.

One of our Sewing class volunteers, in the Community Room at Stanley Mills

1 Overview

Through volunteering, individuals and groups play an important part in supporting our values and contribute to our strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time. We recruit volunteers who share our passion for Scotland’s historic environment to help across our estate.

Read our latest newsletter

We’re committed to offering a programme that matches a range of motivations, helping volunteers to learn new skills, meet new people, gain confidence or simply have fun.

Read our Volunteer Policy [PDF, 2.75MB]

As part of our team, volunteers can participate in a variety of roles, including:

  • engaging with visitors
  • studying biodiversity
  • cataloguing our collections
  • playing a musical instrument

Here's what one of our volunteers, Charlene Forbes, had to say: 

Volunteering is a fresh experience every time. The staff and public couldn’t be nicer towards the volunteers and at the end of the day, it’s that reception that keeps me coming back for more.”

To find out more about volunteering with Historic Environment Scotland, please get in touch via email: volunteering@hes.scot.

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2 Our commitment to volunteers

What our volunteers can expect:

  • We provide volunteers with opportunities to get involved in our projects, while offering full support and supervision.
  • We respect volunteers’ personal decisions around their level of engagement, and understand their time is given freely and without obligation.
  • We make every reasonable effort to ensure volunteer activities are risk assessed, and all levels of risk are as controlled as reasonably practicable. Volunteers are covered by our insurance while performing in the role.
  • We provide all relevant training to volunteers for their roles.
  • We aim to be as inclusive as we can and will consider any adjustments we can reasonably make to accommodate individual health and well-being requirements.
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3 How to volunteer with us

We recruit volunteers across our estate at various times throughout the year.

See our individual volunteering opportunities for information on how to get in touch.

You don’t need a background in history to volunteer with us, but an appreciation and enthusiasm towards our work is essential.

We recruit volunteers who:

  • are approachable and enthusiastic
  • can take, and act on instructions, including health and safety procedures
  • maintain attention to detail and accuracy
  • for public-facing roles, are comfortable communicating with our diverse audiences and are confident and happy to initiate conversations and provide directions and guidance as required

Historic Environment Scotland is a partner in Make Your Mark, part of Our Place in Time, Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment. The Make Your Mark campaign aims to increase the number and diversity of heritage volunteers in Scotland. Over 70 organisations around Scotland have joined Make Your Mark, and you can find volunteering opportunities for member organisations around Scotland via the recruitment portal. Visit www.makeyourmark.scot to learn more and view current volunteering opportunities.

To find out more about volunteering with Historic Environment Scotland, please get in touch via email: volunteering@hes.scot.

For other volunteering opportunities around Scotland, see the Volunteer Scotland website.

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4 Where you can volunteer

Monument Monitor

We have over 300 properties in our care and, whilst our conservation teams undertake routine maintenance visits, we can’t be at all of them at once. However, historic properties are popular tourist attractions and visitors are frequently snapping and sharing pictures of their visit. This is where Monument Monitor steps in and you can help!

At several different sites around the country, we have put signs up that ask visitors to send in their images of our sites, enabling our team to keep tabs on them remotely. At the participating sites, specific signs will illustrate what we are monitoring and what we would like photos of. Our sites including a healthy mix of castles, Neolithic monuments, churches and Iron Age forts.

To learn which sites we are monitoring and how to get involved, visit our Monument Monitor page 

At our monuments

Our volunteering opportunities are designed to complement the unique aspects of a site – for example, Duff House has a volunteer pianist; at Dunstaffnage Castle and the Blackhouse, Arnol we have Gaelic heritage volunteers; at Stanley Mills our volunteers teach sewing skills; and our volunteer tour guides at Craigmillar Castle and Dryburgh Abbey share lots of great information with our visitors.

Since the reopening of our Properties in Care following Covid-19 pandemic-enforced lockdowns and the associated legal restrictions, HES has been working hard to map out how we can safely welcome back volunteers. We have undertaken a phased re-opening programme, during which we have taken into account our legal duties to ensure the health & safety of our staff, volunteers, visitors and everyone who accesses our Properties in Care, and the circumstances of each local community in which our Properties in Care are based. As a result, we have been able to welcome back our volunteers to their roles at several of our Properties in Care, including Dryburgh Abbey, Duff House, Huntly Castle, Jedburgh Abbey, Melrose Abbey.

At our events

We recruit volunteers to provide support at a selection of our summer events, at locations such as Dumbarton Castle, Linlithgow Palace & Peel, and Fort George.

Our event volunteers deliver to our excellent customer care standards by:

  • assisting with crowd marshalling
  • meeting & greeting
  • answering questions
  • giving directions
  • time-checking to keep the event to schedule
  • providing information about the event and Historic Environment Scotland

Volunteers may also have the opportunity to assist with informal learning activities, such as showing visitors replica objects and assisting with craft sessions.

Recruitment is now closed for volunteering at our programme of summer events. When we have opportunities available to volunteer at our events, they will be shared here. 

With our Ranger Service

We usually have a range of volunteering opportunities with our Ranger Service at Holyrood ParkLinlithgow Peel and the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. We engage with conservation volunteers, volunteer rangers and practical conservation groups.

Find out more about volunteering with our Ranger Service

HES Archives and the National Record of the Historic Environment

Did you know that HES has an archive of over five million drawings, photographs, negatives and prints all about Scotland’s built heritage?

We also provide digital access to this archive and the data from the National Record of Scotland’s Historic Environment via our website Canmore. If you register, you can contribute your own research digitally. Our volunteers provide research and add important pieces of information that enrich our knowledge of the historic environment.

When we’ve got projects for volunteers with the HES Archives and Canmore, we advertise them here and on our social media channels.

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5 Volunteering with our Ranger Service

There are a variety of volunteering opportunities with our rangers at Holyrood Park, Linlithgow Peel and the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site.

Practical conservation groups

Many groups approach us wanting to become more actively involved in our parks throughout the year. Groups may come from private businesses or local communities, and can volunteer for just a day or on longer-term projects. These can include projects to clear litter, create or maintain paths, or manage a variety of habitats.

Conservation volunteers

Our surveys provide a great opportunity for anyone interested in gaining survey and ecological experience or wanting to contribute to protecting local biodiversity. Anyone is welcome to join in, though some surveys involve steep slopes or water. We do most of our surveying work during summer, but some projects take place at other times of the year.

We are currently recruiting conservation volunteers. Please download the role description for more information and how to apply:

Download Conservation Volunteer Role Description [PDF 140KB]

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