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Mapping Scotland's historic environment online

26 April 2013

A web-based mapping service which goes live this week provides a single gateway into every aspect of the historic environment in Scotland, from archaeology and historic buildings, to industrial heritage and designed landscapes.

PastMap – www.pastmap.com – is a free, interactive mapping tool which pools information from five key heritage databases, providing a first port of call for anyone interested in the nation’s historic environment, from students and researchers to land managers and the general public.

Hosted by RCAHMS, PastMap consolidates data from organisations including Historic Scotland, local authorities, and RCAHMS itself

Users can explore maps of Scotland featuring their particular areas of interest, choosing from the multiple layers of archaeological and architectural information to find what they need. This will allow them to:

  • Obtain listing information on more than 46,000 buildings which have been granted listed building protection by Historic Scotland

  • Explore information and imagery on over 300,000 architectural, archaeological, industrial and maritime sites through Canmore, the RCAHMS database

  • Access details on the 8,000 Ancient Monuments whose importance has been recognised by being granted ‘Scheduled Monument’ status by Historic Scotland.

  • Investigate Historic Environment Records prepared by the 17 Scottish local authorities who currently participate in PastMap, recording the historic environment at a local level

  • Discover details of gardens or designed landscapes which have received recognition and a degree of protection through the planning system from Historic Scotland

  • PastMap will also guide users to the relevant planning authority for further consultation.

The website is one of the first of its kind to use Web Feature Service (WFS) feeds. This allows any alterations or additions to the data on any of the five heritage databases – for example, information on new archaeological sites or listed buildings or landscapes – to be updated instantly within PastMap. It also allows for the site to take in completely new datasets – in the near future, information on every battlefield and World Heritage Site in Scotland is to be added to PastMap. At all times, users can interact with this data, download it, and export tailored reports.

Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said how useful it was to see all of this information about the built heritage of Scotland made easily accessible on one website. She said:

“Understanding our past and being able to view and use the records of Scotland’s historic environment will prove to be an invaluable tool. PastMap is at the forefront of an exciting digital area – the spatial presentation of data from multiple sources. In this regard the heritage sector is leading the way in Scotland.

“This resource merges information from a range of partners and is an excellent example of different and diverse organisations coming together and working for the greater common good”.

Speaking about the new service on behalf of the project partners – RCAHMS, Historic Scotland, and the local authorities’ Sites and Monuments Record Forum – Robin Turner, Head of Survey and Recording at RCAHMS said:

“PastMap is a fantastic resource for anyone who is interested in landscape, historic buildings and archaeology – for much of the country it provides a comprehensive overview of what we know to date  about the historic environment of Scotland. PastMap will continue to incorporate new data from RCAHMS survey work, Historic Scotland, local authorities and other sources, to ensure that the site remains the benchmark for information about the nation’s historic places.”  

Stephanie Leith, Heritage Officer at East Lothian Council said:

“PastMap provides an easy way to find out about heritage and archaeology across Scotland, and acts as an intuitive gateway to many other resources. It's wonderful to see cutting edge modern technology put to use to help people find out about Scotland's past.”

For further information please contact Giselle Dye at Pagoda PR 0131 556 0770 giselle.dye@pagodapr.com

Notes for Editors:

  • PastMap – www.pastmap.com – brings information from RCAHMS, Historic Scotland and Local Authority Historic Environment Records together in one searchable system. An interactive mapping service, it offers a single point of entry into five major databases covering the historic environment in Scotland.

  • The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) is the National Collection of materials on Scotland’s built and historic environment that connects people to places across time. It is the first port of call for information about the historic environment of Scotland, from prehistory to the present. www.rcahms.gov.uk

  • Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

  • The SMR Forum is a partnership of Scottish organisations that create and manage Historic Environment Records. The Forum enables historic environment professionals to keep in touch with the latest developments and opportunities within the historic environment management, and to develop coordinated national approaches.

                                                       Year of Natural Scotland logo linking to www.visitscotland.com/natural

For further information


John MacNeil
Media Relations Manager
Communications and Media
0131 668 8714 or 07854 366 827
john.macneil@scotland.gsi.gov.uk