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Cross-sector approach to capitalise on archaeology

3 April 2012

The way Historic Scotland supports and funds archaeology projects across the country is to be strengthened.

The heritage agency has completed a review of the scope of the archaeology work it commissions and how it supports external projects across the country.

The recommendations will position Historic Scotland to take on an increased role in leading the archaeology sector and will see the creation of a dedicated forum to represent the sector as a whole and influence related policy.

Director of Policy Andrew Fleming. said: “Archaeology offers us such huge potential to interest people in our past. It is so much more than excavations and this review will help Historic Scotland fully recognise the excellent work already being carried out and develop better ways of supporting archaeology and research across Scotland.

“We are really fortunate as Scotland has an outstanding legacy of physical remains of our past. We are constantly learning more and revising our opinions about how our ancestors lived. Having a tangible link to life thousands of years ago is an incredible resource that we need to appreciate and celebrate.

“The expertise we have access to is astonishing an I hope that in taking forward plans for greater partnership working and the setting up of a forum specifically looking at archaeology we can ensure we are able to identify where investment can be most effective and what further work is needed.

“Last week the Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop unveiled the remains of an ancient stringed instrument which had been found on the island of Skye. That project has uncovered a wealth of fascinating information but it is also a wonderful example of a great many people and organisations coming together to advise, fund and generally support the excavation and post excavation research. By working together we are changing the way that people regard their history and celebrating our shared history.”

Holding a review was a key performance target for 2011-12 and involved interviews with colleagues in Historic Scotland, as well as a number of partner organisations and has produced 11 key recommendations have been put forward.

Eila McQueen, Director of Archaeology Scotland, said:

“Archaeology Scotland welcome the review. We have a positive relationship with HS that we want to continue. There are exciting and challenging times ahead and I welcome the developing role of leadership from Historic Scotland and believe that we should all get behind that.”

Archaeology Review recommendations

  1. Archaeology in Scotland has enormous potential. Many, many talented and committed people are involved in different ways. A great deal of innovative work is taking place.
  2. The sector would benefit from input from Historic Scotland to provide more co-ordinated leadership, real partnerships and effective policy. There is a need for a long-term strategy for archaeological resources within Scotland involving all stakeholders that is aligned with the overall desired outcomes and vision for the historic environment.
  3. This long-term strategy should, in the first instance, be developed by Historic Scotland, on behalf of Scottish Ministers, working closely with stakeholders and partners within the sector as well as those who ‘consume’ archaeology. Historic Scotland is ideally placed to carry out this leadership role because their staff possess the depth of knowledge, experience and specific archaeological skills required.
  4. The long-term strategy should be developed in the context of the wider review of Historic Environment policy and the outlook for public expenditure.
  5. In developing a long-term overall strategy HS should:

    a) With relevant stakeholders, identify future priorities, in particular how the output from archaeology can be made accessible even more readily and quickly for the purposes of education and interpretation and public display as well as for academic consumption.

    b) Build a clearer picture of the size of the archaeology sector in Scotland and who is involved including as much information as possible about numbers, skills, qualifications, experience, purpose and demand and consider future scenarios for its sustainable development.

    c) Identify options for measuring the impact of the voluntary sector in supporting and providing community archaeology, and the relationship between the public and voluntary sectors in this area.

    d) Consult local government, the development industry and private sector archaeology companies about the operation of developer-led archaeology and its place in the wider strategy and consider the need for any changes in the framework, e.g. legislation, within which they operate.

    e) Ensure all the various funding streams for Scottish field archaeology are identified and co-ordinated as far as possible so that all funders, including HS, are clear about funding priorities, the potential funding leverage and their criteria in line with the overall strategy so that the sector gets the maximum value from all the funding available.

    f) Work with Higher Education institutions, the careers service and the Institute for Archaeologists on a long-term strategy for attracting and training recruits to the profession, in particular at post graduate level, and preparing them for relevant employment in the sector in line with HS strategy and Scottish archaeology requirements such as SCARF run by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and other mainstream projects.

    g) Examine the scope for better marketing of Scottish archaeology to domestic and international audiences, working with VisitScotland and other agencies, and communicating achievements and potential.

    h) Examine the scope for generating more economic value from Scottish archaeology, including from commercial activity on HS sites.

    i) Ensure that innovation, particularly in using new technology, is supported and good practice shared and adopted.
  6. HS should establish an Archaeology Forum for Scotland to provide advice in the development and implementation of the strategy and on funding priorities. A key ongoing task for the forum could be to ensure that the strategy is kept live by keeping up-to-date with latest research in Scotland and elsewhere. The forum could be committee in format and size.
  7. As part of the drive to secure maximum value from and raise the profile of Scottish archaeology, HS, in its leadership role, should support the work of the committee currently being led by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Archaeology Scotland to make 2015 a Year of celebration of Scottish archaeology and the work of the University of Glasgow and others in hosting the major European Archaeology Association conference in the same year.
  8. In order to develop the overall strategy HS should appoint a senior leader with an appropriate mix of skills to a new role of Head of Archaeology Strategy. At the same time HS should consider how the wealth of archaeological expertise within the organisation could be used most effectively and the scope for a rolling programme of secondments to and from the organisation.
  9. HS should look at the scope for more synergy, in relation to its own estate, between its collection and conservation work and its archaeology function.
  10. HS has a key role to play in investing in the whole of the historic environment, including archaeology. HS should consider aligning the management of the archaeology investment programme with its other investment programmes and the estate and properties in care of Scottish Ministers.
  11. HS should, over the course of the next 12 months, pursue the completion of all outstanding publications of HS funded works.


Notes for editors:

  • 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 Year of Creative Scotland began on January 1, 2012 and will spotlight and celebrate Scotland’s cultural and creative strengths on a world stage. Through a dynamic and exciting year-long programme of activity celebrating our world-class events, festivals, culture and heritage, the year puts Scotland’s culture and creativity in the international spotlight with a focus on cultural tourism and developing the events industry and creative sector in Scotland. More information about the programme can be found at:

  • The Year of Creative Scotland is a Scottish Government initiative led in partnership by EventScotland, VisitScotland, Creative Scotland and VOCAL. More information and resources to help businesses engage with Year of Creative Scotland are available at

                                                    Year of Creative Scotland 2012

For further information

Lesley Brown
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8603 or 07920 768 096