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Community and Outreach

community arts and crafts class
Historic Scotland participates in a variety of outreach activities to promote the historic environment.  We offer a range of free-of-charge talks and workshops for community groups.  Our staff also regularly participate in conferences and seminars, giving talks relevant to their research and specialisms.

Contact us to discuss your requirements.

Learning Services

Community and School Projects
Historic Scotland respond to requests to support local community learning and development wherever possible.  Learning Services work with a range of community groups, who use properties such as Edinburgh Castle and Melrose Abbey free of charge to learn about their local heritage and to inspire creativity in a variety of media.

Range of groups Historic Scotland work with
  • Local community and voluntary groups
  • Adults with learning disabilities
  • Users of mental health services
  • Physical disability groups
  • Multicultural groups and organisations
  • Social services and social inclusion programmes
  • Adult learner groups

Examples of projects

Archaeology - knight's skeleton
Archaeologists discovered the skeleton of a medieval knight beneath the floor of a lost royal chapel at Stirling castle.  Our Learning Development Officer Kirsten Wood teamed up with Archaeology Scotland and the City of Glasgow College to find a way to use the knight’s tale to help primary school children learn about archaeology and science.

The college’s 3D modelling students came up with something fabulous, which is a kit containing a life-size replica set of the knight’s bones, plus models of weapons from the time.  We piloted a version of the kit with youngsters from Cambusbarron Primary School, with excellent results.

In future Kirsten will be using one of the kits with school groups visiting the castle, and Archaeology Scotland will be letting teachers across Scotland use the other in their own classrooms.

Investigating Castles Through Outdoor Learning
Historic Scotland recently invited schools to be part of an exciting pilot project - "Investigating Castles Through Outdoor Learning".  The project aims to develop a programme of outdoor learning activities to support literacy, numeracy and health & wellbeing at selected castles across Scotland.

Mortlach Story Walks: an arts and place project in Dufftown
Over the last year Dufftown has been the location for Mortlach Story Walks, a project developed in partnership between Mortlach Primary School and Speyside Paths Network Group, facilitated by the school’s Parent Council.  This project has involved the production of arts-based countryside interpretation materials (public artworks and story based guide leaflets) for the footpaths around Dufftown.  These were researched and designed by children at the school working with experts in the locality and professional arts practitioners.

Soft Toy Story Baskets
Members of the Stanley branch of the Scottish Woman's Rural Institute made soft toys from recycled fabrics to help tell the history of Stanley Mills, a 19th century cotton mill on the banks of the River Tay.  They also made dolls representing workers from the mills from different eras.

The project aims to involve and inspire different community groups to engage with the mills and its history.  Children from the Stanley Toddler Group were the first to test out the new toys, which included barn owls, otters and fish that can be used in conjunction with a giant interactive play mat, depicting the mills, river and the village.

Calanais through the literary lens/Sùil Litreachail Air Tursachan Chalanais
Just as it was in the past, Calanais is a special place for the people of Lewis.
Inspired by its stories, stones and landscape Gaelic-speaking pupils from Breasclete Primary School worked with local photographer Mike Shailes and professional poet Aonghas MacNeacail to create images and text.  The project was funded by Historic Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.

“The pictures and poetry show stones from a new perspective and will hopefully encourage other schools to engage with external agencies and visit Calanais and undertake their research and interpretation in alternative ways. This wonderful collaboration with Historic Scotland fitted well with our new curriculum and provided the children with a wealth of new skills and experiences.”- Breasclete Primary School Teacher.

Melrose Abbey
Primary 7 pupils at Melrose Primary School launched a new leaflet at Melrose Abbey.  Crafty Carvings is aimed at young people and details the beautiful carvings in the abbey and the background to them, as well as a history of the abbey itself.  The leaflet is "written" by Jacques, the bagpipe playing pig, who can be found carved high up on the structure.

The leaflet came about as Jane Gaze, the Local Learning Officer at the abbey, considered ways of promoting the educational aspects of the abbey and the P7 class looked for a project involving enterprise and the local community.

Leading on from the project, other children at the school have trained as Junior Guides to show visiting children around the abbey.

Haunted Heritage Show 2011
The performance is set in the newsroom of a television studio which is invaded and taken over by the ghosts of Scotland who live in historic sites that are in danger of being forgotten or destroyed to make way for car parks and supermarkets.  Pupils role play and debate the fate of the site.

Comments from Balcurvie Primary School:  "The show and actors were fantastic, pupils were engaged throughout.  I would definitely recommend the show to others and I loved how it was able to come to the school and still be relevant and meaningful without leaving the school.  Thank you for the was enjoyed by both pupils and staff”.

Elgin Cathedral BBC Media Lab workshop
Feedback received from Mosstodloch Primary School P4/5 – “Thank you very much for letting us work with the BBC to tell a story about Elgin Cathedral.  We had a marvellous time visiting the Cathedral for our research...In class we wrote our own story and made some puppets and backdrops based on the characters connected to Elgin Cathedral.  We then made it into a filmed puppet show with some stop frame animation sequences in it...thank you for supporting schools in this way - it was educational and great fun”.

New Mural for Education Room at Fort George
Learning Services worked with pupils, an artist and Moray Art Centre and gave them the brief to come up with a mural for the new Education Room at Fort George.  This has now been installed.  An exhibition opened on 27th October 2011 at Moray Art Centre – a smaller copy of the artwork was exhibited and pupils were presented with a copy for their school.

Technical Conservation Group

Seminar at a Homeowners showOur technical conservation team participate in a variety of outreach activities to promote a wider range of  issues relevant to the care of the historic environment. Our staff regularly participate in and organise conferences, seminars and talks relevant to their research and specialisms.

Ranger Service Community Group Visits

Rangers serviceThe Ranger Service works closely with community groups by delivering many different activities: from heritage games, to health walks.  We invite community groups to join us at our sites but we can also provide outreach activities and talks.

How to book a visit
We ask that all groups, whether or not they are participating in ranger-led activities, contact Holyrood Park Education Centre, the Peel office at Linlithgow, or the Orkney Rangers before visiting.

Book in advance
If you would like to book a free ranger-led activity, please try to make the booking at least four weeks in advance. Provisional bookings can be made by telephone but you will also need to complete the relevant booking form

Ranger Service - Talk Booking Form [Word doc, 140kb]
Ranger Service - Community Group Visit Booking Form [Word doc, 140kb]

The teacher or group leader is responsible for supervision at all times.

Our teacher or group leader to pupil ratios are:

  • pre-school 1 to 2
  • 1 to 6 for ages 5 to 7 and
  • 1 to 10 for ages 8 to 16.

For more information on our Ranger Service please visit our Ranger Service page.

Willow Sculptures
As part of their extensive Community Outreach programme in 2011, Holyrood Park Ranger Service commissioned the creation of Willow Sculptures of native Scottish wildlife species, with a view to using them for future education activities.

Bridgend Growing Communities were approached to provide a single Sea Eagle as a preliminary example of what would grow into a series of different creatures possibly representing historical inhabitants of Holyrood Park, such as Bear and Boar.

The impressive Sea Eagle is now in its new home at Holyrood Park Education Centre and the Historic Scotland Ranger Service are in the process of commissioning additional pieces.

                                           Sea Eagle

Contact us

Learning Services
Historic Scotland
Holyrood Park
Education Centre
1 Queen’s Drive
Edinburgh EH8 8HG
Tel: +44 (0)131 652 8155/8156

Contact us

Technical Outreach and Education Unit
Historic Scotland
Conservation Group
Longmore House
Salisbury Place
Tel: +44 (0) 131 668 8665

Ranger Service

Holyrood Park
1 Queens Drive, Edinburgh

Tel: 0131 652 8150

Linlithgow Peel
Linlithgow Palace EH49 7AL

Tel:01506 842 065

World Heritage Site
c/o Skara Brae, Orkney KW16 3LR

Tel: 01856 841 732