What is the Inventory?
The Inventory of Gardens and Designed Landscapes is a list of sites that meet the criteria for defining national importance, as published in the Scottish Historic Environment Policy 2011
Inventory records provide information on sites in order to raise awareness of their significance and to assist in their management for the future. The Inventory is a major resource for enhancing the appreciation and enjoyment of gardens and designed landscapes, for promoting education, and for stimulating further research.
Historic Scotland compiles and maintains the Inventory on behalf of Scottish Ministers. Search the online Inventory here
Public access to Inventory sites
The majority of gardens and designed landscapes in the Inventory are in private ownership. Inclusion of a site in the Inventory does not mean that there are established or formal access arrangements. See the Scottish Outdoor Access Code
for general information on access to the countryside.
Selecting sites for the Inventory
We assess gardens and designed landscapes against seven value-based criteria.
- Value as an individual work of art
- Historic value
- Horticultural, arboricultural, silvicultural value
- Architectural value
- Scenic value
- Nature conservation value
- Archaeological value
These are set out in full on pages 81-82 of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy 2011
The condition of the site and its overall integrity are also important elements of the selection process. The Inventory identifies sites that remain comprehensible and meaningful today. It is not intended to identify lost landscapes.
All sites included in the Inventory are considered to be of national importance. Unlike listed buildings, for example, there is no category or grading system that distinguishes relative merit.
What is on the Inventory?
We define gardens and designed landscapes as grounds consciously laid out for artistic effect.
The most common type of site on the Inventory is the estate landscape i.e. the policies associated with an important house or castle, developed by country landowners for both pleasure and productive purposes. Other types include botanic garden collections, urban parks, small plantsman’s gardens and even some cemeteries.
Inventory sites usually have a combination of different features such as built structures, planting, open grounds, landforming, water management, archaeological remains and natural landscape features, all of which may contribute to the value of a site. Some of these elements may be important enough to be designated in their own right by Historic Scotland as listed buildings or scheduled monuments, or by Scottish Natural Heritage for their scientific or nature conservation value.
How do we maintain the Inventory?
We consider new sites for the Inventory and we review and re-assess existing Inventory sites.
We work in partnership with stakeholders and landowners to assess sites
See our page on propose a site for assessment or review
for more information about the assessment process.
Check up on current projects or get in touch with us on our what are we working on now?
When might Historic Scotland add a garden or designed landscape to the Inventory?
Historic Scotland will designate a site which is found to meet the criteria for defining national importance as set out on pages 81-82 of the Scottish Historic Environment Policy
. Each case is considered on an individual basis and, in exceptional circumstances, we may not designate a garden or designed landscape even though it meets the criteria. Similarly, we may not, in certain circumstances, review existing Inventory sites. These circumstances may include live planning applications which affect the character of the site, an appeal period or appeal against refusal of planning permission, and/or other development proposals.
Defining the extent of Inventory sites
Each Inventory record has an accompanying map that indicates the extent of the garden or designed landscape. The boundary defines the overall area considered to be of significance on the basis of research undertaken. Current land ownership does not have a bearing on defining the boundary. We use historic documents and maps together with evidence collected during fieldwork in order to define the boundary of a garden or designed landscape. Sometimes features such as policy walls and gates provide a clear indication of where a boundary can be drawn. In other circumstances it is less clear and professional judgementis used to determine the most logical boundary line.