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.

B - Understand: Investigate and Record

Strategic Priorities

Continue to develop knowledge and apply new technologies and techniques to improve what we know, often through strategic partnerships, to aid our understanding of the historic environment.

To make knowledge about our historic environment as accessible and useful as possible to the widest audience - and to ensure its long term preservation for future generations.

Effective management of the historic environment begins with proper understanding of the significance and values of the asset. We need to know what we have in order to determine how best to protect, manage and promote it. This fundamental tenet is enshrined within a succession of international charters and instruments, which set out the philosophical and practical framework for management of the cultural heritage at both the national and local level. Investigating and recording our rich heritage (both statutorily protected and other cultural assets) and collecting and making accessible archives is a key to understanding our historic environment that will ultimately inform the decision making process across the sector. It will ensure that we have the information required to manage and record change effectively and to inform our understanding of the past.

There are many individuals and organisations with a direct involvement in Scotland's historic environment - not just organisations such as local authorities, Historic Scotland, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland ( RCAHMS) and the National Trust for Scotland but also national and local volunteer-based societies and groups. All public bodies take seriously the expectation that the information they produce is made available to the public. Collectively these organisations and others hold a considerable body of information about the historic environment but at present that information is too dispersed. As noted already in this Strategy, partnership is at the heart of helping to realise the full potential of this collective knowledge and effort - the key here is to find a mechanism where knowledge, expertise and skills can be brought together in order to address gaps in our knowledge about the historic environment, and to make sure that our collective knowledge is easily accessible and is preserved for the future.

We also need to ensure that the sector has access to authoritative, reliable and up-to-date information on the historic environment, to encourage an assumption in favour of open access to this information, and to promote active engagement to all those who wish to access it.

Key aim: to investigate and record our historic environment to continually develop our knowledge, understanding and interpretation of our past and how best to conserve, sustain and present it.

ScARF (Scottish Archaeological Research Framework)

ScARF's aim is to help everyone involved in Scotland's archaeology to assess what we already know and to identify gaps in our knowledge. It explores opportunities to undertake research and, through archaeology, to strengthen our understanding of the past. ScARF works at a strategic level, looking at broad areas of knowledge rather than finely detailed aspects.

The framework is already used in many different spheres of work within the historic environment, and helps to ensure that scarce resources are directed at the most pressing areas of research. This could apply to funding sources, but could equally apply to maximising the research value of developer-funded archaeology or setting the efforts of local enthusiasts into a national context.

The ScARF initiative provides an updatable framework highlighting both current research strengths within archaeology, and areas for future exploration. This enables anyone wishing to contribute to the research environment of Scotland to plan their work better, helping ensure that future research is relevant, represents greater value, and contributes effectively to our understanding of the past.

Scotland's Historic Environment Data ( SHED) Strategy

The SHED Strategy is a sector-wide initiative to improve access to information about Scotland's historic environment. The key aim is to work in partnership in order to protect, promote and enhance Scotland's historic environment through coordinated activity to improve the data, and the associated systems and processes. The partnership includes government agencies, non-government organisations ( NGOs), and academic institutions, but also supports the public's involvement in the care and enjoyment of the historic environment through better records. The initiative is an example of a complicated and diverse sector coming together to agree and deliver benefits to a wide audience.

Lairg Power Station and Dam, Highland

Lairg Power Station and Dam, Highland
Photograph: © RCAHMS

The historic environment is a platform to stimulate citizenship and a sense of belonging.

Response made to equalities survey, January 2014

Effective management of the historic environment begins with proper understanding of the significance and values of the asset.


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