2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories

With over one third of visitors drawn to Scotland for its history and culture, VisitScotland has hailed the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology as an exciting opportunity to relive Scotland’s fascinating past through a range of activities. A total of nine events have been announced with more to be revealed as the year progresses. Highlights of the programme include a spectacular sound and light projection event at New Lanark World Heritage Site to bring to life the mill as it was in the heart of the Industrial Revolution. The Heart of Neolithic Orkney will “Glow in the ArchaeoDark” on World Heritage Day with interactive storytelling, music, food and glow-in-the-dark paint. A unique event in the Outer Hebrides will celebrate the islands’ rich South Asian history with music and art collaboration, exhibitions and performances.

Six World Heritage Sites

VisitScotland #HHA2017
VisitScotland #HHA2017

At the launch of the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, VisitScotland presented a series of brilliantly conceived #facethepast photos of Scotland’s World Heritage Sites painted on the faces of youngsters. The header photo (above) shows the latest addition to Scotland’s World Heritage, the iconic Forth Bridge, a massive yet graceful, 2.5 km rail-bridge construction spanning the Forth River estuary near Edinburgh. At present there are six sites in Scotland on the World Heritage list.

Another representative of Scotland’s industrial past is the New Lanark, a restored 18th-century cotton mill village on the banks of the River Clyde, close to the Falls of Clyde in southern Scotland. By 1799, New Lanark was the biggest cotton mill in Scotland and formed one of the largest factory sites in the world. More than 2,000 people lived and/or worked in the village.

The farthest reaches of the Roman Empire is represented by the Antonine Wall, the most northerly frontier of the Empire, built nearly 2,000 years ago. With a length of 60 km at the time it was built it was the most complex frontier ever constructed by the Roman army.

St Kilda is a group of five remote islands – Hirta, Soay, Boreray, Dun and Levenish – in the North Atlantic, some 160 km off the west coast of Scotland. The last residents of St Kilda were evacuated in 1930, bringing to an end about 4,000 years of human occupation.

Further back in time, some 5,000 years ago, the prehistoric people of the (Neolithic) Orkney Islands began building extraordinary monuments out of stone. Together they represent one of the richest surviving Neolithic landscapes in Western Europe.

Then there’s the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, extraordinary urban settlements with many significant historic building set in a stunning landscape of dramatic hills and valleys, formed millions of years ago by volcanoes and ice sheets.


“We are so fortunate in Scotland to have the most fascinating and inspiring history and heritage on our doorsteps, bringing the spirit of Scotland alive.”
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs



The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 will begin on 1 January 2017 and end on 31 December 2017.
The hashtag for the year is #HHA2017. For more information, see VisitScotland/HHA2017

Edinburgh Georgian Shadows 23 Feb – 26 March 2017 Edinburgh
Scotland in Six 18 April 2017(World Heritage Day) Scotland-wide
Tradfest Edinburgh 26 Apr –7 May 2017 Edinburgh
Paisley’s International Festival of Weaving 1 & 2 July 2017 Paisley
Purvai August 2017 Stornoway
Follow the Vikings Roadshow & Festival 2& 3 September 20178& 9 September 2017 Shetland
Horsepower 9 September 2017 Falkirk
Mary Queen of Scots Festival September 2017 Kinross and Loch Leven
Shining Lives Autumn 2017 New Lanark World Heritage Site

The 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.

Scotland will be celebrating a number of significant anniversaries through the historical year including the 70th anniversary of Edinburgh as a world leading festival city (with early celebrations beginning at Edinburgh Hogmanay’s Midnight Moment), the 20th anniversary of Scottish Crannog Centre, 250th anniversary of Edinburgh New Town Plan, 30th anniversary of Beltane Fire Society and the 400th anniversary of the General Register of Sasines –the oldest public land register in the world.

The year also provides the opportunity to promote and celebrate a much wider programme of events celebrating Scotland’s history, heritage and archaeology. Partner events within the year include Scot:Lands, which kicks off the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology celebrations on 1 January with an adventurous journey across Edinburgh’s Old Town, closely followed by Celtic Connections (19 Jan – 5 Feb) – the UK’s premier celebration of Celtic music. And at the end of January, the national bard will come into focus with Robert Burns events celebrating the poet’s rich history.

Text and photos courtesy of VisitScotland
Historic Scotland