Five archaeology highlights revealed by Historic Environment Scotland

05 March 2021
Historic Environment Scotland has spotlighted five successes in its Archaeology Strategy, as it publishes a five-year review of its work.

The Strategy – which was the first national Archaeology Strategy in Europe when it launched in 2015 – aims to make archaeology matter for everyone in Scotland. Key areas are:

  • delivering archaeology
  • enhancing understanding
  • caring and protecting
  • encouraging greater engagement
  • championing innovation and skills

The five highlights that Historic Environment Scotland has revealed are:

Significant discoveries of national and international importance, such as the rediscovery of a lost medieval bridge at Ancrum which would have been crossed by Mary Queen of Scots and James V, and the unearthing of Scotland’s largest ever collection of medieval burials in Leith, Edinburgh

The reconstruction using ancient DNA of a Neolithic dog from a skull discovered at Cuween Hill Chambered Cairn in Orkney – the first such attempt of its kind

Increased community participation in archaeology as part of the strategy’s commitment to encourage and enable people of all backgrounds and ages to engage with Scotland’s past - on average 100,000 people have participated in over 400 events annually across Scotland as part of Scottish Archaeology Month

Archaeology contributing to addressing long-term issues such as climate change, with the Climate Change Vulnerability Index assessment for the Heart of Neolithic Orkney World Heritage Site. This pioneering technique for understanding the impact of climate change on historic sites is now being rolled out in World Heritage Sites across the globe

Responding to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, from finding new ways of working safely to help support the construction industry deliver projects, to responding to the needs of parents and teachers by making over 100 free learning resources available online.

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Dr Andy Heald, Chair of the SSAC and Managing Director of AOC Archaeology said: 'It has been fantastic to be involved in this sector-wide partnership, with representatives from the commercial, public and third sectors. We are half-way through this journey now and there will be lots more exciting work happening in the coming five years'. 

The main leads for the Strategy are HES, the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, the Association of Local Government Archaeological Officers, the National Museums Scotland, Archaeology Scotland and the Chartered Institute for Archaeologists. 

View the full Archaeology Strategy on the HES website.

QUICK LINK: Unique underwater discovery of medieval bridge

Report and image copyright Historic Environment Scotland.