Our Historic Environment
Scotland's historic environment is the physical evidence for human activity that connects people with place, linked with the associations we can see, feel and understand.
The historic environment is part of our everyday lives. People cherish places, and the values of the historic environment lie in defining and enhancing that connection of people to a place. It provides roots. It enhances regional and local distinctiveness. It forges connections between people and the places where they live and visit. The sense of place and strong cultural identity provided by the historic environment plays a crucial part in the sustainability of communities and in promoting a positive image of Scotland across the world.
The historic environment could be said to be 'the cultural heritage of places', and is a combination of physical things (tangible) and those aspects we cannot see - stories, traditions and concepts (intangible). It comprises a variety of objects, structures, landscapes and features. While this Strategy seeks to address the historic environment holistically, it acknowledges the great breadth which this encompasses, from underwater, to ecclesiastical and industrial, as well as the traditional great architecture and monuments.
Scotland's historic environment is intrinsic to our sense of place and strong cultural identity. It is diverse, but collectively it tells the story of our shared past. It is important in its own terms, providing key evidence of the lives and creativity of our forebears. It also helps to create a sense of place, identity and physical and social wellbeing, and benefits the economy, civic participation, tourism and lifelong learning. It is dynamic and ever-changing and that dynamism lies at the heart of the need for sound principles of stewardship. For the people of Scotland to continue to gain real, and increasing, benefits from their historic environment, it needs to be understood, valued and championed. This requires a strategy, and a series of coordinated actions by a range of players from the public, private and the third sector through which that strategy can be delivered.
Today, within a broad socio-economic context of difficult resourcing and significant technological and climatic change, Scotland's historic environment faces challenges. There are actions that we can take now to maintain and enhance the management of our historic environment in the face of such threats, to ensure that we continue to maintain the significant value which Scotland's historic environment brings. Ultimately, we will know we have succeeded when that value is widely realised and we have broadened the profile and people's understanding of what heritage can deliver socially, environmentally and economically. We know some actions will require a long term approach. That is why the Strategy has been framed as a ten year plan.
Photograph: Adam Christie, aged 11, Glass Primary School, Aberdeenshire
Scottish Civic Trust 'My Place' Photography competition
People cherish places, and the values of the historic environment lie in defining and enhancing that connection of people to a place.