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Historic Scotland membership hit an all-time high following Homecoming campaign

24 August 2009

Minister for Culture, the Constitution and External Affairs Michael Russell has congratulated Historic Scotland as its membership figures hit 100,000 for the first time.

The record-breaking numbers have been achieved following a special offer on Historic Scotland membership. The offer was a key component of the agency’s contribution to the 2009 Year of Homecoming.

The aim was to give Scottish people and families the opportunity to see Historic Scotland’s properties and events, all year long. The offer, which was promoted through a major marketing campaign, gave 18 months’ membership for the price of 12.  In addition to the 6 free months, membership with Historic Scotland - for a whole family costs only £6.16 a month.  

It is likely the offer has been particularly popular as a result too of the economic climate.  In ‘credit-crunching’ times, Historic Scotland have had anecdotal feedback from members that they are keeping their membership based on the value that they feel it gives them as a family.

MSP Michael Russell, said: “Passing the 100,000 members milestone is a tremendous success.  This demonstrates how much people value and enjoy what Historic Scotland’s properties represent – over 5,000 year of history.  This special offer really highlighted the superb value available to those keen to explore our castles, abbeys and prehistoric settlements.

“The rich variety of history presented through these places is a key reason why Scotland is such an attractive holiday destination.  Overseas visitors can explore Scotland’s wonderful culture and heritage and Scots can discover where we have come from.”

Membership figures for July 2008 were 87,900, which means there has been a 14% increase year on year.  The marketing campaign, which included TV advertisements fronted by actor Hamish Clark, ran from 1 May to 15 July and prompted people to get out in Scotland and make their own history on days out.  Initial figures indicate that at least 11,000 of the additional members have been attracted directly due to the campaign and enticing offer.

Kari Coghill, Interim Head of Visitor Services and Business Development, said: “We wanted to do something special to give Scots a great value offer during the Year of Homecoming 2009.  18 months’ membership for the price of a year was a great way of doing that, especially when the membership price is already a great offer.”

“At a time when many families are closely guarding their finances and watching their budgets,  it provided a chance for great days out, all across the country, all year round with an extra financial incentive.  The marketing campaign clearly struck a chord with our audience, with a warm presentation by a Scottish actor familiar to millions from his role as Duncan in Monarch of the Glen.”

“The Historic Scotland Homecoming offer is supported with a whole series of superb events and visitor materials: Party at the Palace 1503 - which attracted thousands of visitors to our properties; Following in Family Footsteps trails; costumed performances at over 100 properties, and our on-line Homecoming material.”

The Historic Scotland Membership scheme dates back to 1985 when Historic Scotland’s predecessor sold around 8,000.  Among the first to buy a membership in April 1985, and now life members, were Dr Glynne Jones OBE and his wife Sheila, from Glasgow.  Dr Jones, who recently retired, is a former TA brigadier who commanded the 205 General Hospital in Riyadh, during the first Gulf War.  As a boy he developed a strong interest in history from his father, also a doctor, and listening to tales told by a local ploughman in his native Carmarthenshire.

Dr Jones said: “When I moved to Scotland I wanted to learn about the country’s history and visit its historic sites so I was pleased when, some years later in 1985, the opportunity came along to have a (what was then known as a) season ticket.  Since then my wife and I have become Historic Scotland Life Members because it offers such good value.

“It’s also very easy because you simply have to turn up and show your card and can go in without paying another penny.  There are so many places to see, from the prehistoric tombs of Orkney to the great royal palaces and castles.”

“My favourites though, are probably the royal castles like Edinburgh and Stirling as they were so important in the history of the country.  It’s also marvellous because you get the handbook every year with the listings and maps showing all the Historic Scotland properties and sites around the country that you can visit, and that helps get you out and about round parts of Scotland you might otherwise never see.”

There has been a sustained upward trend in membership numbers in recent years, with annual peaks tending to be reached in September or October.

The maximum figures for the past five years are:

2004-05 67,500
2005-06 68,600
2006-07 75,700
2007-08 83,100
2008-09 90,700

Notes for editors

  • The special offer was available from May to 15 July and was promoted with TV, radio and press campaigns – plus a dedicated website.

  • The benefits of membership include free entry to over 70 historic sites around Scotland, free entry to a host of colourful day time events, a free quarterly magazine and 20% discount at Historic Scotland shops – plus reduced price entry to many attractions in England and Wales.

  • Historic Scotland has 345 historic properties and sites in its care. These include some of the leading tourism attractions in the country, including Edinburgh, Stirling, and Urquhart Castles, Fort George, Linlithgow Palace, the Border Abbeys, and Skara Brae. For further details visit:

  • Historic Scotland’s Mission is to safeguard Scotland’s historic environment and to promote its understanding and enjoyment.

  • Historic Scotland is delighted to be supporting the 2009 Year of Homecoming with a series of initiatives including family trails, spectacular events and the creation of a Homecoming Pass for heritage attractions in association with other heritage organisations.

For further information

Rebecca Hamilton
Marketing and Media Manager
Marketing and Media
0131 668 8685 / 07788 923871