Kirsty Paterson finds out more about Scotland’s first Heritage Awareness Day – and what you can do to get involved ...

Heritage Awareness Day aims to bring us face to face with our past
Heritage Awareness Day aims to bring us face to face with our past

Remember your first date? Maybe you arranged to meet outside a particular shop or went to the cinema.

Or how about your first day at primary school? Your first gig? A favourite record store, perhaps? An often travelled canalside walk?

Or what about that quiet country road where you – and many others like you – learned to drive?

The fact is, heritage for many might call to mind the impressive castles, graceful palaces and grand churches that Scotland is rightly famous for.

But our own history is also written into the places, landscapes and buildings that are all around us.

Those traditions – from couples meeting at ‘the dancing’ to leading the world in education and engineering – are as much a part of Scotland’s story as Charlie and his Jacobites or poor old Mary, Queen of Scots.

And that’s exactly why Historic Environment Scotland (HES) wants us to celebrate our past – both our own and our community’s – when it hosts Scotland’s first ever Heritage Awareness Day on Friday, October 6.

But it needs your help to make the most of the day.

The organisation, which looks after many of the country’s most dramatic and historical sites, spends much of its time putting on events that draw us to the amazing buildings in its care – jousting tournaments, costumed tours and even battle re-enactments attract thousands of families every year.

On October 6, however, HES wants YOU to do the organising.

Whether that’s sitting with a cup of tea and a book of old photographs or doing something altogether more active is entirely up to you. Neil Gregory, HSE’s deputy head of engagement, is enthusiastic about how the day will allow people to talk about the buildings and places that really mean something to them.

“Yes, we do lots of events to encourage people to come to the properties in our care,” he said.

“But this event is sort of throwing it open!

“We know history isn’t just about the big castles and churches – it’s all around us.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done this specific campaign to get people thinking about the world around them.”

Whatever you choose to do is up to you ... and Neil and the team are looking forward to seeing lots of ideas on social media.

“You can do whatever you like and we’re encouraging that,” he said. “We want to hear how creative people are!”

However, if you’re stuck for ideas, HES also has lots of suggestions, ideas and advice to inspire you.

Neil said: “The fact that Heritage Awareness Day is on a Friday means a lot of people will be at work and school.

“So you could do something in the classroom or in the workplace.

“You might talk to older people at your work about how things used to be.

“Or you could meet up with friends and look at old photographs and maybe do a bit of research.

“You don’t have to go far. You could start on your own doorstep and do a bit of house history.

“Get together with friends and go on a bike ride and photograph old buildings that interest you.

“Or you could perhaps even raise some money for your local historical society – maybe with a cake bake or something similar.”

Once you’ve had a look at old photographs or visited some favourite old buildings, why not visit the website canmore.org.uk?

This is an online catalogue of Scotland’s archaeology, buildings, industrial and maritime heritage.

Another treasure trove of images can be found on the website SCRAN.

Neil and the team at Historic Environment Scotland would particularly like it if people use Heritage Awareness Day as a starting point to paying more attention to neglected buildings nearby.

He explained: “It would be great if people used the day to say: ‘I’m going to get together with friends and do something about an eyesore in our village or town’.

“There are lots of professionals who can help with that.

“We’re also encouraging people to get in touch with us as we count down to the big day – we want them to share their stories on Facebook and Twitter.”

If you are inspired to organise your own event, the website has templates for posters, leaflets and press releases to help you promote the day.

Scotland’s first Heritage Awareness Day is justone of many events that have been organised as part of the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, a celebration of Scotland’s people, culture and traditions, historic landscapes and amazing stories.

Joining in Heritage Awareness Day and being part of the social media campaign is a way of being part of that celebration.

“I really like the fact that this is a grass roots campaign,” added Neil.

“It’s not the experts telling people what to do – we are offering an umbrella for people to join together and celebrate.

“We’ll be waitingwith baited breath to see what people do – and cheering them on all the way!”

Join the conversation online using the hashtag #heritageday17.

Find out more atwww.historicenvironment.scot/heritageday.