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What is the historic environment?


Carved footprint in stone at Dunnadd fort.
Our environment, whether rural or urban, on land or underwater, has a historical dimension that contributes to its quality and character. It has been shaped by human and natural processes over thousands of years.
This is most obvious in the built heritage we see around us.

These include the great monuments of the medieval period, like Edinburgh and Stirling Castles and the Border Abbeys; the evidence of a more distant past such as standing stones and circles, and early burial mounds; and the remains of settlements and fields abandoned, sometimes forcibly, in the 18/19th centuries.

It also includes the many historic buildings in our towns and cities, and country houses set in designed estates and with elegant gardens. It includes a rich marine heritage of wrecks and submerged landscapes.

These features are often impressive of themselves. But they also relate to the place in which they were built and uses, and this wider setting is still important today. Indeed, complex patterns of the past abound across the landscape, within the soil, and in our towns, villages and streets.

There are also less tangible aspects of our heritage, represented by the associations of places and landscapes with historical people and events, with art, literature, language and culture, and with people’s perceptions of the environment around them.

Together, these all contribute in a fundamental way to our sense of place and cultural identity.





Contact us

Heritage Management Directorate
Historic Scotland
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Edinburgh
EH9 1SH
Tel: +44 (0) 131 668 8716