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What is the historic environment?

What the historic environment is, and how we experience it through places, artefacts, traditions and stories.

Put simply, the historic environment is the physical evidence of past human activity. It connects people with place, and with traditions, stories and memories linked to those places. 

The historic environment could take the form of a stone circle, a prehistoric fort, a medieval castle, a Renaissance garden, a stately home, a townscape or a landscape.  

It could be a factory, mill, battlefield or shipwreck. 

Or it could be an artefact or archive material – photographs, drawings, books, maps and manuscripts directly related to Scotland’s places and history.  

The historic environment isn’t limited to stones, bricks and mortar. It’s a combination of things we can touch and those we can’t. A building can often impress with its features alone. But its fabric and purpose also tell us of the lives played out within its walls. 

Then there are the links between places and historical people and events, and with art, literature, language and culture.  

All of these aspects contribute enormously to our sense of place and cultural identity, and inspire overseas visitors to discover Scotland through our historic environment.  

Contact 

Historic Environment Scotland 
Longmore House 
Salisbury Place 
Edinburgh 
EH9 1SH 

Telephone: 0131 668 8600
Email: website@hes.scot

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