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Historic Scotland unveils its vision for Gaelic

15 October 2012

                   Gaelic Junior Guides

Historic Scotland is to play a major role in the advancement of Gaelic after its plan to promote the language across the country was officially approved.

The agency’s five-year Gaelic Language Plan has been accepted by Bord na Gaidhlig, the Government body responsible for supporting Gaelic in Scotland.

The plan details Historic Scotland’s commitment to Gaelic, and explains the practical steps it will take to incorporate the language into its daily operations. Included are bilingual services, such as Gaelic signage at some properties, the production of bilingual publications, and the appointment of a Gaelic Language and Policy Officer to take the plan forward, all of which are already in place.

Welcoming the Bord’s approval of the plan, Historic Scotland’s Acting Chief Executive Ian Walford said: “Gaelic is a fundamental part of Scottish culture, and we at Historic Scotland are keen to support its promotion and recognition, not only as an important part of our country’s heritage, but also as a living language.

“Historic Scotland believes the language has an historical and modern relevance in today’s society, and we look forward to playing our part in supporting its revival and growth in the years to come.”

The Plan will support the use and learning of Gaelic within Historic Scotland, and promote the language through the agency’s interaction with other organisations, stakeholders and customers across the country, and where relevant, around the world.

At Bord na Gaidhlig, Ceannard (chief executive) John Angus MacKay said: “We welcome the approval of Historic Scotland’s Gaelic Language Plan and their commitment in incorporating Gaelic into their everyday operations, as well as promoting the visibility and audibility of the language throughout their different sites across Scotland.

“Historic Scotland is charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment, in which the Gaelic language is an integral element.”

In addition to the established Gaelic activity within Historic Scotland, including the appointment of Gaelic Language and Policy Officer Kirsty MacDonald, the Plan will also deliver new initiatives over the next five years.

Existing Interpretation at selected Historic Scotland sites, such as Carnasserie, Dunadd, Iona Abbey and Inverlochy Castle, will be replaced with signage incorporating Gaelic, complementing those sites already offering the service.

Some sites offer Gaelic guide books and audio guides, and these will be expanded to other attractions.

Historic Scotland sites are increasing Gaelic resources for children and families, such as Gaelic quizzes, which have just been introduced at Edinburgh Castle, and the agency will also produce more bilingual publications and online content.

Staff are to be offered Gaelic learning opportunities, and the language will increasingly be used within the organisation for everyday activities.

Two local Learning Officers with Gaelic have been employed, at Lewis and Edinburgh Castle, and the agency has worked closely with two schools in the capital, Tollcross and Stenhouse primaries, to develop a junior guides programme.

The pupils offer Gaelic guided tours at the Castle, in period costume, an initiative which earned the Stenhouse youngsters a Gaelic Language and Culture Learning Award at the Scottish Education Awards 2012.

In the coming year, a new project with four-fifths funding from Bord na Gaidhlig will create a Gaelic glossary of terms relating to the historic environment, for use by translators and teachers across the county.

Full details of the Historic Scotland Gaelic Language Plan will be available at the forthcoming Royal National Mod in Dunoon, where Kirsty MacDonald is showcasing the agency’s Gaelic materials over five days (October 14th to 18th), and can answer questions and offer advice.

Historic Scotland has implemented the Gaelic Language Plan to fulfil its duty to help deliver the objectives of Bord na Gaidhlig and the National Plan for Gaelic, and to meet legislation established in the Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005.

Copies of the Plan are available online, via the Historic Scotland web site, at

Photo caption

“Cur sios sin, a nighean ghoraich!” (“Put that down, you silly girl!”)
Junior Gaelic guides at Edinburgh Castle, from Tollcross Primary in the capital, shoot a comical scene for a DVD illustrating 16th century life. The free film, available soon, was recorded in two versions – one in English with some Gaelic (plus subtitles) and one entirely in Gaelic.

Notes for editors

1.Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Government charged with ensuring that our historic environment provides a strong foundation for a successful future for Scotland. The agency is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers and through them to the Scottish Parliament.

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3.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:

4.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

David Gray
Communications and Media Officer
Communications and Media
0131 668 8588 or 07854 366 805