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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.”
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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

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

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4 Where you can volunteer

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 closure of our Properties in Care, depots and offices on 18 March 2020, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic and the associated legal restrictions, HES has been constantly monitoring the situation, in line with Government guidance and updates. We have been working hard to map out how HES can safely begin to reopen our Properties in Care in the most appropriate manner, as the Covid-19 restrictions are eased.

We are currently going through a phased re-opening programme, during which it has been necessary to take into account ongoing Covid-19 restrictions, 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. While we are not currently able to resume the volunteer programme during this time, as soon as we feel it is safe and practical to do so we will re-start activities.

Find out more about our reopening plans

At our events

We usually recruit volunteers to provide support at a selection of our summer events, however due to the Covid-19 pandemic these events will not be taking place in 2020.

Our Event Volunteers will deliver to our excellent customer care standards by:

  • assisting with crowd marshaling
  • 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.

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

With our Ranger Service

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic we are not recruiting volunteers at this time. In normal circumstances 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

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. A lot of our volunteers get great satisfaction by researching and adding 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.

At the Engine Shed

Our volunteers at the Engine Shed in Stirling 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.

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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.

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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