About Us

Volunteer with us

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

A group of volunteers pose with some lettering saying “volunteering” at Caerlaverock Castle.

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.

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.”

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.

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, friendly and enthusiastic
  • can work in a team
  • can take and act on instructions, including health and safety procedures
  • have excellent communication skills, are comfortable speaking to different age groups, and are confident and happy to start conversations with visitors
  • can provide directions and guidance as required

For other volunteering opportunities in our historic environment, see the Volunteer Scotland website.

4 Where you can volunteer

At our monuments

We’ve recently introduced tour guide, visitor activities and gardener roles at several of our properties. Our volunteering opportunities are designed to complement the unique aspects of a site – for example, Duff House has a volunteer pianist.

We are currently recruiting volunteers at the following monuments:

At our events

We recruit volunteers to provide support at a selection of our summer events.

As you may be aware, 2018 is Scotland’s Year of Young People (YoYP). We are happy to announce that this year, to tie in with the YoYP, we will be working in partnership with the Police Scotland Youth Volunteers (PSYV). This is an exciting opportunity for both HES and PSYV to collaborate on this project together and gain knowledge and experience from each other. Due to our new partnership, at this time we are not recruiting new event volunteers for 2018.

These individuals will deliver to our excellent customer care standards, assisting with crowd marshaling, meeting & greeting, answering questions, giving directions, time-checking to keep the event to schedule, and providing information about the event and Historic Environment Scotland. Volunteers will also have the opportunity to assist with informal learning activities, such as showing visitors replica objects and assisting with craft sessions.

For event volunteering opportunities with other organisations, please visit Volunteer Scotland’s dedicated website

Year of Young People logo

With our Ranger Service

We have a range of volunteering opportunities with our Ranger Service at Holyrood Park, Linlithgow 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.

National Record of the Historic Environment

Archives

Did you know that HES has an archive of over five million drawings, photographs, negatives and prints all about Scotland’s built heritage? We welcome volunteers who are keen to assist with the care and cataloguing of our archives.

As a volunteer you get a great chance to work with original material – identifying and cataloguing items ranging from archaeological excavations to architects’ drawings, or helping with our team of professional paper conservators. You can also help with the rehousing of collections to ensure that they are preserved for the future.

Our volunteers love hands-on experience with historic photographs and the satisfaction of seeing items safely packaged for preservation.

Providing information and maps

We produce and curate Canmore which is the online index to the National Record of Scotland’s Historic Environment. It’s used by millions of people to find out more about the archaeology and buildings that interest them. A lot of our volunteers get great satisfaction by researching and adding important pieces of information that enrich our users’ experiences.

You can also help with our data by assisting us on a number of mapping projects. If you’ve experience in using geographical information systems, then we’d love to hear from you. We’ve found that Geography and Archaeology students have got a lot of benefit from this type of work, enhancing their CVs in the process.

What we are looking for

In most cases we expect volunteers to be confident using a computer. It all depends on the nature of the work and we can give you training in more specialist skills if necessary.

When we’ve got projects for volunteers we advertise them here on this site and through our social media streams. Watch out for when opportunities become available! You can also get in touch at archives@hes.scot and we’ll contact you when opportunities arise.

At the Engine Shed

Throughout 2018 we will be looking for volunteers at the Engine Shed in Stirling. Our volunteers will be able to support school visits, help out at events and talk to visitors about Scotland’s inspirational built heritage. Anyone interested should register their interest to the Engine Shed team by emailing technicaleducation@hes.scot.

With our community projects

Volunteers are at the heart of several of our community projects.

Scotland's Urban Past

Our Scotland’s Urban Past project helps people to become ‘urban detectives’ who investigate the hidden histories of Scotland’s towns and cities. We provide free training to our volunteers, who explore the stories of buildings, streets and parks, and present them in exciting and creative ways. Visit the Scotland’s Urban Past website to see how you can volunteer.

Anyone living in Scotland between the ages 16-25 is welcome to sign-up to the Scotland's Urban Past Youth Forum. No background skills are necessary - just a passion for the past and a willingness to learn new things!

This year, you’ll get to design and run your very own part of ‘Knight at the Castle’ - our signature Year of Young People event based at Edinburgh Castle this October!

The Scotland’s Urban Past team will help you through training on event design, management and anything else that you think would increase your skills to improve your event.

Applications for 2018/19 close 30 June 2018!

Sign-up!

More volunteering vacancies at our community projects may become available in the future. Any new positions will be advertised here.

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.

Download Conservation Volunteer Role Description [PDF 140KB]

Volunteer rangers

We seek volunteer rangers from across the community, ideally aged 16 or over. We want volunteers with a love and understanding of the locations in which they are based, and who want to help others to enjoy these places too.

Volunteer ranger roles include:

  • promoting visitor safety, conducting organised patrols, encouraging responsible behaviour and reporting any damage. 
  • helping with community or school groups, guided walks or events
  • helping with surveys to monitor species or habitats
  • getting involved in community group activities, including clean-ups and conservation projects

To volunteer with our rangers, email rangers@hes.scot or call 0131 652 8150.

Download Volunteer Ranger Role Description [PDF 184KB]

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