Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has today unveiled an investment plan for some of Scotland’s most iconic historic sites.

Backed by investment of £12 million in 2018/19, the plan sets out an investment programme scheduled to run until 2021/22 which will enhance the condition of sites and improve the experience of visitors.

HES has already made a significant investment in 2017/18 on the upkeep and improvement of its estate. This work including important conservation projects  at sites such as Midhowe in Orkney, Dunkeld Cathedral and Dumbarton Castle as well as the upgrade of heating, toilets and lighting systems at various properties across the HES estate. Other projects already underway as part of the ongoing investment include the installation of CCTV and improvements to interpretation materials at sites as well as the development of virtual reality experiences for visitors and a new pontoon and boats at Lochleven Castle.

Based on current and projected income levels, HES is looking to allocate a similar level of annual investment across each year of the planned programme. The investment plan will be delivered over and above the current profile of business as usual activity.

The investment plan is being published alongside HES’ first Asset Management Plan which outlines its approach to caring for over 300 properties and collections in its care, including sites such as Linlithgow Palace, Skara Brae on Orkney and Stirling Castle.

Introducing the plans, HES Chief Executive Alex Paterson said: “These are ambitious plans which will set new standards for the care of our properties and provide world class visitor attractions with outstanding visitor experiences.

“We’re building on the success of recent years which have seen record numbers of visitors to many of Scotland’s historic sites. We’ve already effectively started our investment programme, with many projects already underway across the country and are in a strong position to deliver on the identified priorities designed to help bring social, economic and environmental benefits for Scotland.”

View of the west defences and hospital of Edinburgh Castle from Princes Gardens.

Overall, 20 sites* across its estate are earmarked as priority for investment under the plan. Projects planned as part of the new investment plan include Ongoing enhancement to facilities and amenities at Edinburgh Castle; repair work on the main Spire at Glasgow Cathedral and an augmented reality app for Caerlavarock Castle allowing visitors to collect historical animations related to the castle and its adjacent nature trail.

The visitor experience at Doune Castle in Perthshire – which doubles as the fictional Castle Leoch in the hit TV show Outlander – will also be enhanced thanks to new external lighting around the site and an introductory exhibition on its history, based in the castle vaults. The Castle’s shop was also upgraded last year to become a larger more customer friendly retail outlet.

In addition, HES will invest in the further digitisation of its archives, including the photography collection from the former Countryside Commission for Scotland of Rural Buildings from the 1970s – a collection never before available to the public.

The plans also highlight the organisation’s increasing use of cutting edge, technology to conserve and manage its assets and estate, including the use of digital applications in areas such as research and surveying, and how it mitigates climate change impacts across its estate.

 Welcoming the new plans, Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, said:

“During the past two financial years the Scottish Government has committed additional capital funding of around £6 million to support the conservation and management of properties in care.

“I am now pleased to see this plan for investment in our historic environment, and the infrastructure supporting Historic Environment Scotland’s wider visitor offer, which offers such a strong return for our economy, directly generating £528 million in 2017, and supporting an estimated 15,300 full time jobs in Scotland.”

The Asset Management Plan and Investment Plan build on Historic Environment Scotland’s successful Corporate Plan for 2015-2018, For All of Our Futures, and the Scottish Government’s priorities for economic development.

The full Investment Plan can be downloaded from https://www.historicenvironment.scot/archives-and-research/publications/publication/?publicationId=8240d14e-6873-4516-8140-a8820114b0ae