Archives and Research

Statistics and analysis

Our statistical and analytical research informs decision-making and helps us to evaluate the value of Scotland’s historic environment.

1 Overview

Our Corporate Analysis and Performance Team uses data to conduct social and economic research and analysis to help guide our decision-making and planning.

We gather data from:

  • officially published sources
  • in-house data sets and those held by partner organisations
  • primary research through public consultations and surveys

The information we collect is used to inform Historic Environment Scotland’s decisions, measure the impact of our activities and measure the contribution the historic environment makes to Scotland. We often work in partnership with other organisations across the sector.

2 The team

Corporate Analysis and Performance Team

Area of focus: Socio-economic research and analysis to guide development and measure the delivery of our Corporate Plan and Our Place in Time, the historic environment strategy for Scotland.

The Corporate Analysis and Performance Team has a variety of experience and works with colleagues and organisations across the wider culture sector.

The team’s work includes:

  • providing evidence for business planning, corporate planning and decision-making
  • measuring the impact of activities
  • measuring the historic environment’s contribution to Scotland
  • promoting innovative ways of working and problem-solving

3 Funding

Most of our funding for statistical research comes from Historic Environment Scotland’s core budget.

We also collaborate across the culture sector and beyond to peer review and achieve best value for money on socio-economic research and analysis, for example, through the Scottish Culture Evidence Network.

4 Projects

Scotland’s Historic Environment Audit (SHEA)

Scotland’s Historic Environment Audit (SHEA) provides an analysis of key trends in the historic environment sector.

SHEA reports show, through facts and figures, that Scotland’s historic environment is a unique asset attracting millions of visitors and generating income and jobs across Scotland.

The reports aim to identify issues relevant to the health of the historic environment, and the impact of the resources used to manage and protect it.

Data is provided on:

  • the number of recorded and protected heritage assets
  • the condition of the assets
  • funding management and employment relating to the assets
  • benefits created by the historic environment

 Read more about Scotland’s Historic Environment Audit.

Assessing the public value of heritage sites

Admission prices don’t capture the full public value of Historic Environment Scotland’s properties and collections.

We worked with the University of St Andrews to estimate public willingness to pay tax to maintain the broad benefits of the sites, including the:

  • aesthetic and symbolic value of the sites
  • value of passing on sustainable assets to future generations

Nearly 2,000 Scottish residents were surveyed in two cycles. A pilot set of six sites was tested in 2015, with a further six sites and collections added in 2016. The results of the two studies, along with other evidence, are used to support our case to receive public funding, and to inform decisions about priorities for investment within our estate.

Survey Results August 2016 [PDF, 423KB]

Survey Results June 2015 [PDF, 788KB]

The Economic Impact of Heritage Tourism

Historic sites and attractions draw international visitors to Scotland. They also draw Scottish people into other regions for holidays and day trips.

Heritage visitors help to sustain local economies and employment through their on-site spend at the attractions and their off-site spend in local shops, restaurants, hotels and on other services which would not have occurred if the heritage attraction had not drawn them to the area. In turn, this spend with local businesses requires them to buy more from their suppliers in order to meet the visitors’ demand (known as the multiplier effect).  

HES has estimated the total tourism impact generated by Scotland’s heritage using data from the 3 largest national annual surveys: The International Passenger Survey, The GB Tourism Survey and the GB Day Visitor Survey. Our analysis draws on previous impact research in the sector, and is used to track progress against Scotland’s National Tourism Strategy: Tourism 2020.

Heritage Tourism Impact Report [PDF, 142KB]

There are a number of different ways to calculate economic impact, and to determine whether a visitor’s spend should be allocated to the sector or not. HES has presented one approach to capture the whole sector, and some sensitivity analysis around other methods, but alternative survey questions and attribution methods have been used in other studies. The National Lottery Heritage Fund has also estimated the economic impact of heritage tourism at UK level, including a Scotland figure, though they have used a broader definition of the sector including natural heritage which was not accounted for in HES’s analysis.

National Lottery Heritage Fund's latest heritage tourism impact report is available on their website

5 Publications and conferences

Volunteering and the Historic Environment

Volunteering and the Historic Environment estimates the scale and range of volunteering activity and demonstrates its positive impact and potential for the people of Scotland.

Measuring the success of Our Place in Time

We are members of the working group set up to measure the success of Our Place in Time, Scotland’s historic environment strategy. We provide expert advice, data and analysis. Published outputs include a baseline Strategy Performance Measurement Framework.

National indicator in the National Performance Framework

We provide expert advice and analysis for the reporting of the historic environment measure in the Scottish Government’s National Performance Framework. Our current measure is to improve the state of Scotland’s historic sites.  

Scotland’s Environment website

We’re part of the editorial group for the Scotland’s Environment website. We provide analysis and write content about issues to do with Scotland’s historic environment and how they interrelate with the wider environment. We’ve provided written content in the State of the Environment Report and recorded podcasts.

Within Historic Environment Scotland

Our research and analysis feed directly into a range of projects across the organisation, including:

  • corporate and business plans
  • investment and estate strategies
  • funding bids
  • reports of key performance indicators to our Board and the Scottish Government

Our research is also used by the sector to measure the success of Our Place in Time, Scotland's historic environment strategy.

We collaborate with organisations across the culture sector. Our recent conference, Making the Case: Developing and using evidence in culture and heritage, was delivered with colleagues from a range of organisations to explore the use of evidence and research in their work.