1 Overview

Our specialist architects, technicians and work teams across the country conserve and maintain the over 300 monuments and buildings in our care. This work, which we do on behalf of Scottish Ministers, is guided by our wide-ranging research.

To support the wider historic environment, we:

  • promote the use of and access to traditional building materials and encourage the learning of traditional building skills
  • provide advice on maintenance, repair and conservation science

We also have a team that manages large or complex physical projects, both within Historic Environment Scotland and other organisations. For example, we supported the National Trust for Scotland in creating the Battle of Bannockburn centre.

We look after a vast collection of artefacts relating to our sites, from the Honours of Scotland, Mons Meg and the Orkney Venus (or ‘Westray Wifie’) to new objects like the Stirling Tapestries.

We support events at our sites all over Scotland and ensure staff and visitor safety.

We also run the Engine Shed, our conservation hub in Stirling, which is open to the public and free to visit.

Visit the Engine Shed

2 Traditional skills

Keeping traditional skills alive is essential to enable us to care for the built environment.

We raise the profile of traditional skills to ensure that Scotland’s historic environment remains in good hands for many years to come.

We work with key industry and sector partners to sustain these skills through our:

3 Recording

Our partnership with Glasgow School of Art lets us use cutting edge technologies to record the historic built environment and objects. This aids the conservation and interpretation of our built heritage.

We delivered the Scottish Ten laser scanning project, working with Glasgow School of Art Digital Design Studio to create intricate digital models of five of Scotland’s World Heritage Sites and five international heritage sites.

Through the Rae project, we aim to digitally record in 3D all the properties in our care.

More about digital documentation

4 Research

We conduct original research into all aspects of historic architectural materials. Our focus is research with clear, practical applications.

We also research buildings and structures, and how they function, as a whole. Practitioners and homeowners can directly apply this knowledge to care for properties.

Current areas of research are:

  • building information modelling
  • energy efficiency in traditional buildings
  • sustainability and embodied energy
  • the impact of climate change and how to adapt to it

Download the Historic Scotland Technical Research Strategy [PDF, 153KB]

We also collaborate on a wide range of projects with partners including:

  • academic institutions
  • the private sector
  • other heritage bodies like the National Museum of Scotland and Historic England

Find out about our involvement in European research project EFFESUS, to explore energy efficiency in historic districts.

Our research is made available in reports, guides and at events.

Search our conservation publications

5 Making the case for conservation

Climate change is one of the most serious issues for the historic environment.

In this area, we work to:

  • mitigate emissions from our own activities
  • adapt our buildings
  • make our activities more sustainable
  • highlight the risks of climate change
  • promote the use of sustainable and local building materials
  • promote the adaptation and repair of traditional buildings
More about climate change

We also promote the conservation of Scotland’s industrial heritage. We explain its relevance to communities, education and skills and its potential to support regeneration and placemaking activities.

Building on our success in achieving World Heritage Site status for the Forth Bridge, we also endorse the capacity of our industrial heritage to enhance Scotland’s global standing.

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