Our Place in Time: the Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland

A high-level framework which sets out a 10-year vision for the Scotland's historic environment.

Delivering Scotland's Historic Environment Strategy

This is a strategy for Scotland's historic environment. Delivering the vision will require the range of bodies, groups and individuals with an interest in, or responsibility for, aspects of the historic environment to work together towards a common purpose, making effective use of the skills, experience and resources of all parties to realise the benefits and values of our historic environment.

Measuring Success

In order to measure collective success we need to enhance the evidence base and create a performance framework for the agreed vision and aims, as well as demonstrating how the historic environment is contributing to the wider purpose and national outcomes of the Scottish Government. There is also a need, more generally, to understand and monitor the performance of the sector and record evidence about the historic environment.

Developing a strong evidence base for such a diverse sector is challenging. Although individual organisations may construct their own performance measurement frameworks, there is an opportunity to enhance the evidence base for the sector as a whole by developing a transparent and consistent basis to assess resources, activities, outcomes and ultimately, impacts. Any approach to success measurement must be generated and owned by the sector to ensure that it is effective, and further work is planned to agree proposals to establish a framework that can be used by the sector to plan, gather, analyse and present key evidence.

The key to measuring success is being clear about what the sector wants to achieve. The Strategy currently contains one overarching outcome "to ensure that the cultural, social, environmental and economic value of Scotland's heritage makes a contribution to the wellbeing of the nation and its people". However, further work is required to establish short, medium and long-term outcomes, for example, around the value, condition and economic impact of the historic environment. A collaborative "Measuring Success" working group will be established with key stakeholders to begin to build up a suite of shared outcomes that support the vision, identifying inputs, processes, outputs and key milestones leading to delivery. Sector activity, roles and responsibilities, can then be aligned to improve delivery of outcomes, with the ability to measure progress along the way.

As one of the few fully independent historic environment organisations in the sector the Society is keenly aware of its leadership role and the potential for its impact on mainstreaming through its projects, informed decision making through its research focus and grants, and the potential to work towards increasing skills and capacity through collaboration and its grants. The Society is keen for the Strategy to succeed and willing to engage with it to that end.

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

How we will deliver the Strategy - Working Towards the Vision

Many of the activities that the sector is carrying out already support the Strategy. The key is that all work to a shared vision and agreed aims for the historic environment. The Strategy provides a framework that will enable collaborative work to ensure the most efficient use of available resources - and allows collective identification of opportunities, overlaps and gaps in activities and the ability to tackle key issues together for the benefit of the historic environment, individuals and communities alike.

Delivery Model

In order to ensure delivery of the Strategy and the shared vision for the historic environment, a three-tiered delivery model has been established. The structure will provide transparency and accountability, while also encouraging joint working across the historic environment sector and beyond, and setting of common goals.

This three-tiered approach will facilitate the required link between the high level strategic framework and activities at the operational level, and provide sufficient buy-in and accountability among key decision makers and deliverers to harness the opportunities and meet the challenges that the historic environment currently faces.

In the interests of openness and transparency all board and working group papers and minutes will be made publicly available via the following web address: www.scotland.gov.uk/historicenvironment

A new website dedicated to the Strategy is currently being developed with stakeholders and will become available during 2014.

Historic Environment Strategy Governance

Historic Environment Strategy Governance

Working Groups

Key issues identified by the sector with support from the Operational Board, as a priority for action, will be considered by a series of working groups that will be established during the course of the ten year life of the Strategy. Membership of these groups will be drawn from across the historic environment sector and beyond to ensure that the necessary expertise informs future actions.

All Working Groups will be required to produce detailed and phased work plans for action. These plans will be approved by the Operational Board and made publicly available on the Strategy website.

Progress in implementing the Strategy will be partly measured against these work plans and reflected in the Historic Environment Board's annual statement, reporting on collective progress with delivering the Strategy.

Two collaborative working groups have already been established to consider key issues affecting the historic environment. These are:

  • A heritage tourism group which is looking at how best to make full and effective use of our heritage assets to promote Scotland to both domestic and international audiences, growing the overall value of heritage tourism in Scotland.
  • A joint central and local government group including representatives from the Scottish Government, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities ( COSLA), local authorities and wider representation to consider how the historic environment is managed and maintained, within the context of dwindling resources, considering potential for existing and future delivery models; empowering local communities and examining the potential for shared services.

Two additional groups are planned:

  • An education and volunteering group which will explore scope for more joining up; enhancing volunteering activity and broadening access across the social spectrum.


  • A 'measuring success' group to support the development of an inclusive and shared evidence framework which will measure collective progress against the Strategy and ultimately the success of the Strategy itself.

Next Steps

The framework has been developed by stakeholders who recognised the need for a cohesive, overarching strategy for Scotland. The new Strategy therefore sets out a common vision for the historic environment and provides a clear direction for all parts of the sector and beyond over the next ten years.

The Strategy is a framework - it will now require everyone to build on existing partnerships, working together and achieving our shared vision for Scotland's historic environment.

The historic environment is critically important for people's identity and their sense of place, it gives value and continuity.

Response made to equalities survey, January 2014


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