Meeting date: Tuesday, January 31, 2017
Meeting of the Parliament 31 January 2017
Agenda: Time for Reflection, Topical Question Time, Bailey Gwynne (Independent Review), Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, Gender Balance (Parliamentary Bureau and Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body), Business Motion, Decision Time, Veterans
- Time for Reflection
- Topical Question Time
- Bailey Gwynne (Independent Review)
- Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
- Gender Balance (Parliamentary Bureau and Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body)
- Business Motion
- Decision Time
Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology
The next item of business is a debate on motion S5M-03748, in the name of Fiona Hyslop, on celebrating our past: Scotland’s year of history, heritage and archaeology.
Before we start, I inform members that we have a little time in hand. We will have six-minute speeches in the open debate, with time for interventions.15:00
From our historic towns to our majestic brooding castles, and from the industrial wonder of the Forth bridge to the mysteries of the standing stones of Callanish, Scotland’s history, heritage and archaeology are fascinating. They are set in wonderful landscapes and tell stories of fortitude, power and drama, and of people and their places. We inspire and captivate the imagination of Scots and visitors alike through our history, heritage and archaeology. Scotland’s landscape is incredibly rich with the evidence of our history, from surviving neolithic tombs and homes to fascinating and enigmatic carved stones, to medieval castles, to renaissance palaces, to some of the finest surviving Georgian urban planning anywhere in the world, and much more.
As well as celebrating our successes in previous themed years, today’s debate also allows us to shine a spotlight on Scotland’s wealth of fascinating and inspiring history, heritage and archaeology. Today, I will highlight 2017 as a celebration of Scotland’s rich and diverse historic environment, its vibrant heritage and its world-renowned archaeology, which are key draws both to the people of Scotland and our visitors. I also intend to acknowledge the social, economic and cultural benefits of heritage, and the importance of taking full advantage of the opportunities that are offered to raise the profile of Scotland nationally and internationally as a world-class tourism destination.
Archaeology can also act as a catalyst for local communities by providing inspiration for activities through which communities can come together to celebrate their local heritage. Scotland’s community heritage conference has celebrated that public role of archaeology and showcased community-led projects across Scotland—supporting people as they explore their connection to the past.
We already have in place an exciting programme of annual events that celebrate the themes year after year—from the Edinburgh festivals, to the jousting weekend that is held every year at Linlithgow peel, to doors open days and the festival of museums—to name just a few. This year’s winter festival events, including Celtic Connections and Burns night, have provided a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our intangible heritage, which is made up of our language, stories, songs, crafts and traditional food and drink, which are—rightly—famous across the globe.
Last week, I was delighted to attend three events that marked the finale of this season’s winter festivals and the start of the year of history, heritage and archaeology. The Burns unbound event at the national museum of Scotland and the night at the museum event at the Hunterian museum were both popular free events that were open to all, and which invited local communities, families and visitors to celebrate and learn more about the life and works of the bard in the unique setting that is provided by those two world-renowned sites.
The BEMIS celebrates Burns event at Celtic Connections was the spectacular musical finale of the multicultural celebration of the year of innovation, architecture and design and winter festivals and was supported by £54,000 of funding from the Scottish Government. The programme has been a great success—it has inspired a wide range of minority ethnic communities to collaborate on delivery across the country of 63 events that were attended by around 15,000 people. All the events that were supported by the programme were developed and delivered at grass-roots level and provided the opportunity for people to share and celebrate their own unique cultures, history and stories, and what Scotland means for them, as their home.
The programme of themed years has been very successful in giving Scottish tourism an edge by galvanising partners to work across sectoral boundaries in order to create a strong collaborative platform to promote Scotland and our many assets. They will also significantly help us to grow the contribution that our tourism industry makes to the economy, as we aim to increase that contribution to more than £5.5 billion a year by 2020.
Our 2012 year of creative Scotland reached almost 70 million people. Our 2013 year of natural Scotland saw a 12 per cent increase in the number of visitors to rural and coastal locations over to the same period in 2012. There were more than 1 million attendances at events that were funded in connection with our 2015 year of food and drink, and during our 2016 year of innovation, architecture and design there were 30 funded and 125 partner programme events. In addition, more than 1 million people have engaged in the centenary celebrations around the festival of architecture, which involved 460 additional events taking place all over Scotland.
In 2018, we will celebrate a global first in Scotland when we have a year-long celebration of the very best of Scotland and its young people. A programme of cultural and educational events and activities, co-designed with children and young people, will be held across the country to celebrate Scotland as a great place for young people to grow up in, and to mark their contribution to Scottish society.
This is 2017, however. We in Scotland are extremely fortunate to have on our doorsteps the most fascinating and inspiring history and heritage, which bring the spirit of Scotland alive. Our built heritage infrastructure is a key asset that contributes strongly to the Scottish economy and must be maintained. In 2015, heritage-based tourism alone generated an estimated £780 million for the Scottish economy, and supported 23,100 jobs throughout the sector.
It is not all about our iconic buildings and internationally renowned artefacts: every part of Scotland has its own story to tell. We have many hidden gems to find and explore—I am sure that we will hear about some of them during the debate.
Does the cabinet secretary agree that slow or ill-informed decisions regarding the planning process can have a knock-on effect when it comes to the viability of conservation and Scotland’s built heritage?
I acknowledge that there are challenges in the planning system, a review of which is on-going. However, I reassure Alexander Stewart that during the passage of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014 we ensured that there would be parallel processes in planning, which has taken six weeks off some processes. We are always looking for opportunities to simplify planning in ways that respect our heritage while ensuring that decision making is timeous.
Globally, 50 million people claim Scottish ancestry. Genealogical research is growing and is an important niche market in Scotland. We know that people want to visit where their ancestors came from, which really keeps their history alive. Members will be aware of the recent success of television programmes that use Scotland as their backdrop. A notable example is “Outlander”, which has helped to increase people’s interest in their past. The numbers make it clear. Research by VisitScotland shows that 68 per cent of North Americans cite ancestry as a reason to travel to Scotland and that, in general, ancestry tourists stay longer and spend significantly more than the average visitor. We take genealogical interest very seriously. We have supported the establishment of the Scottish ancestral tourism group, which is helping to develop the sector.
We acknowledge the benefits that the clans bring to our tourism industry, especially through the strong overseas memberships of the clan associations. That is why we continue to fund the Scottish clan event fund, which has to date supported 22 events among 17 clans. Nine more events are planned for 2017 to encourage more people to embrace their ancestry. This year, the splash of tartan programme at the 2017 royal Edinburgh military tattoo has taken on board our clan traditions. The standing council of Scottish chiefs has already helped to encourage more than 50 clans to participate in each night of the tattoo. I acknowledge the value of the spectacle and agree that the existing available resources within the clan event fund could be utilised to support clans to organise events throughout Scotland to enhance engagement. I will shortly be in a position to announce successful applicants.
We have much to celebrate—and rightly so—but we are also stewards of our heritage and must rise to the challenge of its care. That is why I commissioned Historic Environment Scotland to undertake an unprecedented survey of the properties that are in care of Scottish ministers. That report highlighted the need for a new focus on care and maintenance of those properties, alongside action to address the impacts of climate change. Despite the challenging financial position, I was pleased to announce an additional £6.6 million for the properties when I visited Doune castle earlier this month.
I was also able to maintain HES’s overall budget and, as in previous years, I have protected its important and often game-changing support for other organisations through its external grant programme. Those grants will help to lever in significant additional funds to the benefit of our historic environment, and the benefit of local businesses and skills in the wider economy.
We know from evidence from VisitScotland and from other research that many more visitors come from all over the world to view and experience Scotland’s history, heritage and archaeology. The major driver for the industry this year presents an exciting opportunity to build on that performance. Visitor research findings show that, in 2015, 32 per cent of visitors to Scotland came for the history and culture. More than half of visitors said that they had visited a stately home or castle; many others visit museums, galleries, cathedrals and churches. The evidence is clear that at every level of the tourism industry there are major assets. Our top two visitor attractions in terms of numbers are consistently the national museum of Scotland and Edinburgh castle.
This year will, as usual, include a busy and exciting events programme. I will highlight some of the 2017 events that are being supported through the £300,000 year of history, heritage and archaeology visitor events fund. Events will form a key element of the programme for the year and the fund is administered by VisitScotland. The events will be held across the nation, from Unst to Paisley, and at all of Scotland’s six world heritage sites—in virtual form, for St Kilda. I encourage members to explore events that are happening in their area and to take the opportunity to go further afield.
The Heritage Lottery Fund has created a £0.5 million dedicated grant fund, called stories, stones and bones, to encourage people and communities across Scotland to explore their past and to find out more about their local history, customs and traditions. The first set of successful applicants was announced earlier in the month and a further round of applications closed today. The fund has received a tremendous response: from young people in inner-city schools wanting to build buildings with turf, to the deaf community wanting to help to make heritage sites more accessible. That demonstrates further the exceptional interest from across the country in celebrating Scotland’s rich heritage.
Some significant anniversaries and events that are taking place will form part of the year. Edinburgh will in 2017 celebrate its 70th anniversary as the world’s leading international festival city. First held in 1947, the festival provided a strong and lasting platform for reconciliation in the aftermath of the second world war. Today, all the festivals and their strong value of internationalism continue to reinforce the richness of migration and our shared histories, as they formulate and shape our future aspirations.
I am excited by the prospect of the year of history, heritage and archaeology. I hope that members are as inspired as I am by how it will increase our already extremely strong offer in heritage, history and archaeology.
Will the cabinet secretary take an intervention?
I am closing, but yes.
I am grateful to the cabinet secretary for taking an intervention in her final minute.
It is impossible to touch on everything in the area that is being discussed, but I am slightly surprised that there has been no reference to the world heritage sites, which do so much to attract people to Scotland—particularly the world heritage site in Orkney: neolithic Orkney. Does the cabinet secretary agree that our world-class sites require world-class infrastructure and visiting facilities, and will she commit to those things in this year?
Good for you for getting Orkney in there, Mr McArthur.
I mentioned Orkney and the Forth bridge. If Liam McArthur had been listening, he would be able to acknowledge that I said that major signature events are taking place in the six world heritage sites.
Will the member take an intervention?
I pointed out that the event about St Kilda will be virtual. As Liam McArthur knows, I am always willing and able to promote world heritage sites. Some of the investment that I announced for properties and care will be for the physical infrastructure of the structures themselves, and some of it will be used for helping to enhance the visitor experience—for example, at Doune castle. Management of increasing numbers of people—which I know is the experience in Orkney—can be a real challenge.
We must continue to show that Scotland is a modern and dynamic country and we must also connect to our past and understand the value that history and heritage can bring.
I welcome the opportunity that today’s debate provides to recognise the contribution of the themed years and to celebrate and promote some of our greatest assets. All members have the responsibility to champion our heritage, whether locally, in their own communities—I hope to hear more of that in the debate—or nationally, across Scotland.
That the Parliament recognises the contribution that Scotland’s Themed Years play in celebrating and promoting some of its greatest assets; welcomes the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology and the opportunities that it provides to celebrate Scotland’s rich and vibrant history and heritage with the people of Scotland and visitors alike, and acknowledges the social, cultural and economic benefits that can be realised by harnessing the opportunities offered by the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology to raise the profile of Scotland, both nationally and internationally, as a world-class tourism destination.15:14
I am very pleased to be taking part, on behalf of the Scottish Conservatives, in today’s debate on Scotland’s year of history, heritage and archaeology. As the cabinet secretary said, the themed years play a very important part and are integral to the role of showcasing and commemorating the best that Scotland has to offer people from here and from around the world.
Scotland has a distinct and rich history and heritage, which is brought together by a co-ordinated marketing and communications programme that showcases our history and heritage here in our own country and across the world.
Archaeology has shown that we have many different sites and discoveries that have been welcomed in Scotland and other parts of the world.
We must ensure, however, that we put the issue of encouraging more people to visit Scotland to see what we have on offer into some context. While there has been no change in the number of visitors to Scotland from the rest of the UK since 2009, there has been a reduction in overnight tourists to Scotland coming from other parts of the world. That figure dropped by 7 per cent between 2007 and 2015. That decline in international visitor numbers is something that we should all seek to address as we formulate Scotland’s approach to tourism.
The wide participation in the year of history, heritage and archaeology has shown that there are many organisations from the public and the private sectors that are willing to embrace civic Scotland. That has been very encouraging. I pay tribute to those organisations, which have made a huge difference by being involved in their own communities the length and breadth of Scotland to develop attractions and to ensure that our heritage is protected, and sought after. That has encouraged individuals to go to those locations, which continues to benefit communities the length and breadth of Scotland. I very much welcome that.
The bringing together of the creative industries, museums, historical trusts and the tourism activities that take place, and the agencies working together, have resulted in a better structure and a more informed and defined approach than we had before. The themed years have certainly engaged with that. The themes have taken on board what we are trying to achieve. We have brought all that together, and doing that has ensured that we have gone out to communities and organisations. They have taken on board many of the reports that are coming forward in order to try to inspire communities. Education, local authorities, trusts, and a range of different organisations are playing their parts.
We have the opportunity to ensure that our events and the tourism sectors that we are trying to engage have a common theme and a thread that runs through their work. That is very important. Many organisations talk about the golden thread that tries to bring things together. That has certainly happened with the themed events, which have encapsulated all that we have wanted to convey, and have been of real benefit.
As we have said in the past, we in Scotland have a unique opportunity, in our nation’s past. We should celebrate that, and many organisations and individuals do so.
I also want to take the opportunity to recognise the integral role that is played by VisitScotland in leading and co-ordinating efforts across Scotland’s year. That has proved to be the foundation that we have built on and added to as we have moved forward. We are incredibly lucky to have that organisation, because it works both on marketing Scotland internationally and on providing information for tourists and visitors when they arrive in Scotland. It ensures that the themed years are encapsulated for visitors.
We can offer visitors opportunities to go to different parts of Scotland. If they come for a specific reason, we can say, “You can go to look at something else”, or they may have the opportunity to develop and progress, depending on how long they are here, which gives opportunities across the piece for the retail and accommodation sectors.
I also heartily welcome the role that Historic Environment Scotland has to play in ensuring that we have a focused campaign. Over the last 10 years, HES has spent £140.6 million repairing Scotland’s historic environment to preserve it for the future. That is so important. We have so much opportunity to look after the heritage that we have. If we can make sure that resources are going into it, it can be kept, as we move forward. I am therefore pleased to promote the many things that HES has done.
To that end, it is extremely important that we ensure that our tourism and other agencies are being funded and resourced adequately to ensure that they can market Scotland’s heritage. That offers the rest of the world a real support. By supporting those organisations and supporting VisitScotland, we can step forward and showcase what we have and how it can be developed. It is very important that we do all that we can to ensure that those organisations are receiving as much resource and funding as they need.
It is clear that there is widespread support across the chamber for what we are trying to achieve today. I look forward to hearing members’ speeches, in which they will have the opportunity to promote their own sector, region or constituency.
As I said, the themed years have given us real opportunities to promote Scotland to visitors from abroad, but also to people here. In many cases, those individuals visit because they have clicked on to different organisations or events that are taking place.
In conclusion, VisitScotland and many other organisations have ensured that our success in that regard has been encapsulated as we have gone forward. I commend our committing to providing them with the funding and resources that they need to ensure that they can continue to do their excellent and well-regarded work.
People across the world look on Scotland as a nation that has so much heritage and culture, and so much opportunity. We must ensure that we encapsulate all the opportunities that we have to promote and market ourselves as a nation that has so much to offer.
I move amendment S5M-03748.2, to insert at end:
“; commends the leading role that VisitScotland is playing alongside other partners in promoting Scotland in the year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, and encourages the Scottish Government to ensure that tourism and development agencies are adequately funded and resourced.”
I call Lewis Macdonald to speak to and move amendment S5M-03748.1. Mr Macdonald, you have a generous six minutes.15:20
Thank you, Presiding Officer. We, too, celebrate Scotland’s year of history, heritage and archaeology. The physical artefacts of past generations are worth conserving not just for their potential to generate visitor spend, which they do, but because they are important in their own right. None of it, however, comes for free. Part of the Scottish Government’s responsibility in 2017 is to ensure that the relevant agencies are able to make the necessary investments, and another part of that responsibility is to strengthen the working relationships in the field between central Government agencies and local councils.
Mr Stewart highlighted the role of VisitScotland, which is the lead agency for promoting tourism as a sector. Once again, it is having to plan its annual marketing expenditure with a real-terms budget cut. It is confident that it will be able to do that, but that is nonetheless an important point. Historic Environment Scotland, which is the product of a very recent merger of two distinct public agencies, is still seeking to find stability after a period of some difficulty, with no additional funding in real terms.
Is the member aware that, in the 2017-18 budget, Historic Environment Scotland’s budget rises by 3.95 per cent? Does he recognise that VisitScotland’s written evidence on the budget states that it is pleased that its budget for the next financial year will be maintained at £43.9 million, which is exactly the same level as the budget for 2016-17? That is a challenge but, in a tight budget settlement, that has been received as a good result for both the tourism and heritage sectors.
I have no doubt that both agencies will do their level best to ensure that they deliver against their responsibilities in the face of the budget constraints that the cabinet secretary describes, but it is important, in seeking to make the most of a themed year such as the one that we are discussing, that we recognise that it will not happen by itself and that it will require expenditure by public authorities. The Government has an overall role in promoting the themed year, but it also has a role in ensuring that the resources that are required are provided.
I turn to Scotland’s councils, because they are facing a substantial cut in their budgets for the next financial year, which can only add to the pressure on those aspects of Scotland’s heritage sector for which they are responsible. This Parliament now has the power to consider a tourism levy, which councils might use to fund investment in visitor attractions and events, and the power to vary income tax, which councils might use to support local public services. Those will be matters for debate in the budget debate on Thursday rather than today, but if ministers agree that a world-class heritage sector requires adequate resources, part of their job is to ensure that they find the means to deliver those resources where they are required.
Local authorities fund many of the museums and galleries that are many people’s first points of contact for the culture and heritage of their local area, and they are key partners in supporting many of the destination management organisations and city centre business improvement districts that pull together public and private sector partners to put their local areas on the visitor map.
Councils also employ archaeologists, who have what, in the words of the current chair of their association,
“can be argued to be the biggest role in protecting Scotland’s heritage”.
Bruce Mann has said that, among many other things, their job is to assess every planning application for its impact on the historic environment; to provide guidance to landowners and developers; to support community projects; and to lead large teams of volunteers in excavating sites. Mr Mann reckons that he and his peers are responsible for managing 90 per cent of Scotland’s historic environment and around 290,000 sites, and that, last year alone, they generated more than 1,600 projects across the country.
That is just one of the council services that are vital if our historic environment is to be protected and which create added value of their own.
It is clear that the direct employment of our professional archaeologists might be at greater risk if a council faces the prospect of having to make wide-ranging cuts in services, as many are likely to do this year. Despite the professional dedication of those archaeologists, the capacity of local councils to employ members of that profession has fallen in recent years as a result of funding issues.
It is important that councils are supported to make the capital investments that are needed to sustain the quality of the museums and galleries estate. Both the Scottish Government and the United Kingdom Government can help in that and act as funders for projects such as the refurbishment of existing buildings and the development of new projects. The Heritage Lottery Fund has, of course, a substantial role in working with both central and local government agencies.
European funding has been significant in many such projects in recent years.
I very much appreciate the point that Lewis Macdonald is making. Funding from the Scottish Government can quite often come early or late in a project. Amazing work has been happening at the Kelvin hall. There is funding from the Scottish Government already, and provision by the National Library of Scotland; there is also the roof project, which will free up additional space. That is very important capital funding that complements the work of Glasgow Life and Glasgow City Council.
I absolutely recognise that. To refer to my city, I recognise Scottish Government support for the refurbishment of Aberdeen music hall, but I remind the cabinet secretary that there has not been the same support for the refurbishment of Aberdeen art gallery, which is part of the estate. I understand that the Government cannot support every project and that it has to make decisions and choices, but when we look at the context of those choices, we need to recognise that all those sources of funding can be significant.
Many of Scotland’s European structural funds for the current programme period have yet to be drawn down. I hope that ministers can provide certainty about spending the currently available funds and future plans.
I think that we all recognise that Historic Environment Scotland has faced challenges in getting to grips with its very broad remit since it was created by the merger of Historic Scotland and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. The success of that merger faced real challenges as the new agency struggled to find its feet and achieve effective partnership working with other public bodies. It is clearly important that public bodies are able to work together to solve problems before the point is reached at which a significant site can be closed to visits by the public—the cabinet secretary will recall that that happened at Maeshowe last year. Working together takes leadership, and in the field in question that leadership must come from Historic Environment Scotland. It is now for the agency and its new chief executive, Alex Paterson, to provide such leadership and to move ahead in a spirit of active co-operation with local councils and other partners.
The challenge for the Government is not just around—
I am sorry, but I ask you to close very shortly. Thank you.
The challenge for the Scottish Government is not just to support Historic Environment Scotland and other public agencies, of course; it is also to ensure that all our public visitor spaces and all the places that we know about and which have been mentioned are given support, whether they belong directly to Government agencies or to local government, or operate in the private sector or the charitable sector. Many of our key sites in Scotland are not—
I am sorry, but you must close. You have had an extra two minutes. Please move your amendment.
Thank you for your indulgence, Presiding Officer. I move my amendment with the present, the future and the past in mind.
I move amendment S5M-03748.1, to insert at end:
“, and considers that adequate funding of local authorities, Historic Environment Scotland and other relevant agencies will be essential to maintain the quality and accessibility of museums, galleries and heritage sites in 2017 and beyond.”
We move to the open debate. Speeches should be six minutes.15:29
I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak today to highlight a topic in which I have a keen interest: Scottish history.
We live in a country with a unique and rich heritage. That heritage and history have helped to define who we are as a country. It is important that this year is dedicated to reflecting on our country’s rich past, because knowledge about that past can help us to form a better future.
Although looking at our country and reflecting on its history is something that we should do constantly regardless of the year, VisitScotland has dedicated 2017 to the year of history, heritage and archaeology. Under that theme, the aim is to promote our country, to celebrate its history, heritage and archaeology, to inspire Scottish citizens and visitors to engage with the country, to collaborate with the tourism sector on the theme and to encourage businesses to make the most of the year by seizing hold of opportunities to expand. That great concept will be beneficial to our country and will effectively contribute to its continued growth and success.
Statistically, tourism in 2015 contributed £11 billion to Scotland’s economy. Historic Environment Scotland, the lead public body dedicated to the care of the historical environment, contributes £2.3 billion to the national gross value added, while supporting thousands of jobs.
History is never over; it continues to grow as time goes on, drawing more and more people towards it. People want to know about Scotland; they want to understand its unique beauty and culture. That interest continues to sustain us financially as a country and intellectually as human beings.
History is an interesting concept because the older we get, the more of it we have lived through. History contains the remnants of our ancestors and their lives, sorrows and joys. It teaches us about who they were, which allows us a better insight into who we are. We are nothing without the past and they are our past.
A VisitScotland web page says:
“We’ve been preparing for 2017 for centuries.”
Indeed, we have been.
History can be found everywhere, in every town, constituency and corner of Scotland and the world. Within my constituency lies Dalkeith country park, which is a popular park marked by centuries of history. The woodlands found there are hundreds of years old. The beautiful park is also marked by the existence of Dalkeith palace. Unfortunately, the building is no longer open to public visits, but the history that surrounds it is truly fascinating. Completed in 1711, the current building was the home of the first Duchess of Buccleuch. The duchess commissioned the architect James Smith to build the palace after the manner of the Het Loo palace in the Netherlands.
Although the building that can still be seen standing in the park is beautiful and full of interesting stories, the historical nature of the location dates back long before that time. Before the 12th century, the ground on which the palace stands was occupied by Dalkeith castle. Passed from the Grahams to the Douglases, the building lasted until 1547. In that year, the English invaded and destroyed the castle, leaving it in ruins until 1575, when James Douglas, fourth Earl of Morton, ordered a new castle to be built in its place. That castle remained until the widowed Anne Scott, the first Duchess of Buccleuch, ordered the palace to be built as it can be seen today.
It is remarkable to consider the palace’s rich history. The grounds have been walked by important figures including Margaret Tudor, Charles I, Bonnie Prince Charlie, King George IV and Queen Victoria. That history on those beautiful grounds attracts a substantial number of visitors every year.
The history in my constituency does not stop at a palace. Every 21 years in the honest toun of Musselburgh, people stand in the streets to watch the riding of the marches. In fact, that special riding took place last year, so if anyone missed the spectacle, they will have to wait another 20 years. If members cannot bring themselves to wait that long, they can always attend the yearly festival. As one of the most ancient ceremonies in the United Kingdom, the march riding commemorates the marking of the borough’s ancient boundaries. The tradition is believed to have begun in the 15th century, although it was first recorded in 1682. In ancient times, it is said that the area might have suffered from years of raidings and the marches were created to protect the land from English encroachment.
Although parts of the tradition have changed over the years, some things remain the same. A proclamation is still made at the mercat cross, followed by the march of a town champion, a turf cutter, a turf cutter’s assistant, squires and halberdiers to the boundary stations around the town. At those locations, a sod of turf is cut and the cry is made: “It’s a’ oor ain.”
Scotland is our country, rich in history and full of culture that is unmistakably ours. Our past is there to learn from, to teach the children and to remember. The past can change the future, but if we do not learn about it, there is little hope for our future.
Not long ago, I was invited by the National Library of Scotland to speak on 17th century Scottish history. I was thrilled to be given the opportunity due to my keen interest in history and my love of books. I focused the majority of my talk on the events that resulted in perhaps one of the greatest bloodlettings in Scottish history. It is less well known that the so-called English civil war resulted in the deaths of 237,000 Scots, out of a population of 1 million—a truly horrific statistic.
I want to focus on two people of specific interest from that century.
You will have to draw to a conclusion, not focus on two people.
In that case, I will skip past the two people of specific interest.
The Scottish Parliament itself has an interesting history. On 1 April 1690, the last order for the torture of an individual was passed in this Parliament—ah for the good old days. [Laughter.]
As we join VisitScotland in celebrating our heritage, history and archaeology, it is important for us to remember that Scotland is not only our past but our present and future. It is up to us to make it the best that it can be. The history of tomorrow is today, and I believe that this year will provide the world with an opportunity to see Scotland for what it truly is: a place of greatness, learning, opportunity, growth, strength and hope.15:35
I am delighted that 2017 has been designated the year of history, heritage and archaeology. Our country has so much to show in every one of those areas, and in a way that few others can match. We have a long history, with much visual evidence still remaining, from Skara Brae and standing stones to castles by the dozen, imposing homes and the evidence of the part that our country played in forging the industrial revolution. Our heritage has been nurtured through the generations. We live in a country that values its past.
Such is the wealth of history that we can see in Scotland today that I hope that members will understand if, for reasons of time, I concentrate on the history on my doorstep. I live in Falkirk and could easily fill a number of speeches with the history, heritage and archaeology of a town that has played such an important part in the history of Scotland.
Long before Falkirk was the scene of two pivotal battles, the Romans found that it was just about as far into Scotland as they wanted to go. In 142 AD, the emperor Antoninus Pius ordered the building of a wall across Scotland, from Carriden, near Bo’ness, to Old Kilpatrick. There were Roman forts further north, but by and large the Antonine wall was the northern border of the Roman empire. There was a wall of turf on a stone base, with a deep ditch in front of it. We can get a good idea of how imposing the wall was at various points along its length, including at Callendar park in Falkirk. There were stone and timber forts every 2 miles, and Rough Castle, near Bonnybridge, gives a good understanding of what they were like.
The wall was barely finished when the Romans decided to withdraw behind Hadrian’s wall. In the middle ages, the wall’s Roman origins were largely forgotten and it was called Grahamsdyke—something that is remembered today in street names in Bo’ness and Laurieston. In Victorian times and in the 20th century, archaeological work was carried out, largely by the Glasgow Archaeological Society, which unearthed many of the remains that tell the story of a fascinating period of our history.
Of course, no self-respecting part of Scotland is complete without a good castle. It is even better if the castle is built in the shape of a boat. Blackness castle, which was built in the 15th century and knocked about a bit by Cromwell, juts out from the southern shore of the Firth of Forth in the shape of a stone boat, complete with bow and stern. Its beauty and unusual design have made it a popular venue for film makers. It was used by Franco Zeffirelli for his 1990 film “Hamlet”, in the BBC series “Ivanhoe” and in the 2008 sci-fi film “Doomsday”.
I am proud that my town was at the centre of the creation of modern industrial Scotland. The Forth and Clyde canal, which reopened as part of the millennium link, was the original motorway of central Scotland. It took goods from coast to coast, and later, by means of additional canals, it enabled goods and passengers to flow between our two largest cities and to all points in between. The canal’s waters were used to demonstrate the world’s first practical steamboat, the Charlotte Dundas, which was built in Grangemouth.
The canals and viaducts were built by human endeavour, with the limited equipment of the day. It is interesting that one of the men who came from Ireland to work on the canal was William Burke, who settled in Maddiston, near Falkirk, before meeting up with fellow Irishman William Hare, who also worked on the cutting of the canal. I am happy to say that the other people who came from Ireland during that period contributed to our heritage in much more positive ways than Burke and Hare.
Today, a new wonder, the Falkirk wheel, stands joining the Forth and Clyde canal and the Union canal, and the Kelpies remind us of the role that heavy horses played in pulling much of the canal traffic. The canals made Falkirk an ideal site for the developing industries of the mid-18th century, and the establishment of the Carron ironworks in 1759 really put Falkirk on the map. The largest ironworks in Europe, they were visited by Robert Burns and Benjamin Franklin. From the famous carronades for the Royal Navy and the guns that defended the Alamo to later items such as stoves and pillar boxes, Carron was a byword for quality. Today, the gatehouse remains to remind us of that giant of our industrial past.
I wish that I had more time to tell the chamber of Callendar house, in the centre of Falkirk; of the Pineapple at Dunmore; of Kinneil house in Bo’ness, where James Watt worked on his first steam engine; of the community heritage centre in Grangemouth; of the hangers that stand witness to the site of Central Scotland airport, which opened at Grangemouth in 1939; of the Bo’ness motor museum; of the Bo’ness steam railway; and of the local individuals who have played a part in building the story not only of Scotland but, indeed, of the wider world.
Will the member give way?
The member is in her last minute.
I applaud all the groups, public agencies and private individuals who keep our history and heritage alive and make Scotland such a great place to visit. To do so, they need support in terms of both funding and resources. Recognising that, this afternoon I shall support the Conservative amendment.
For our next trip round Scotland, I call Stewart Stevenson.15:41
Presiding Officer, I stand before you a self-confessed geek. My geekiness comes from my hobby of genealogy, which is an interest that I took up some 50 years ago. I recently completed an online post-graduate certificate in genealogical, palaeographic and heraldic studies from the University of Strathclyde—I commend the university’s courses to anyone with an interest in the subject.
In Scotland, we have world-leading access to our family history information, which, for tens of millions of people around the world who have a familial connection to Scotland, is their “I know yous”. Many people who research their own family history from a distance end up coming to Scotland. When I visit the ScotlandsPeople centre at 2 Princes Street, I regularly hear the helpful and informed staff taking people from across the world through how to find their family history records for their ancestors. There are gentle whoops of joy as granny MacGregor is finally found.
Like probably most families, my family is full of migration. Besides my great-great grandfather Archibald Stewart who, in 1853, left Scotland for Canada at the age of 64 after being widowed, I have identified 13 sets of my relatives of his generation and their descendants who migrated to Canada, the USA, Ceylon, Australia and New Zealand. In my wife’s family, I have identified 12 migration events over the same period, and the migration continues to this day with our having nephews and nieces who are long-term residents of Sweden, Denmark and Australia. I have a more distant connection in the brother of the five-greats grandfather of my nephew’s fiancée, who was convicted of stealing a coat in 1830 and travelled at the Government’s expense to Australia. For George Adam’s benefit, I should also say that I have a family member who emigrated as far as Paisley.
All of us are likely to have relatives out there who are interested in what we do in Scotland and who retain an active interest in their own history here. The huge Scottish diaspora are part of us and we are part of them. For us, this year is an opportunity to raise their interest and attachment to their mother country to another level. The refresh of the ScotlandsPeople website has given even better access to a wide range of family history data—new data has just been added—and is a key factor in drawing in our international cousins. When they visit the historic building lurking behind the Duke of Wellington’s statue, they get the expert advice that they are looking for and, for many people who come to Scotland, it can be the highlight of their visit.
However, it is not just the people who are employed professionally who matter. There are family history societies right across Scotland, and volunteers regularly go out to record the inscriptions from gravestones and publish the results. About 18 months ago, I bought the book of inscriptions of the new Calton cemetery—which is about 400m behind the Presiding Officer—from the Scottish Genealogy Society, and that helped me to track down three particular family members. The Fife Family History Society’s book of criminals helped me to solve another problem—in someone else’s family tree, of course, not my own. In Aberdeen, we have the massive resources of the Aberdeen and North-East Scotland Family History Society, which has well over 10,000 members from right across the world. In my constituency, the Family History Society of Buchan does likewise for local data.
To know our own family history is to better understand ourselves. To be personal, I have more politicians in my family than I ever thought that I would have. A third cousin, the Canadian senator Keith Laird, was a legal partner of Paul Martin senior, who was the father of a Canadian Prime Minister. A cousin four times removed, Alexander Berry, was an MP in New South Wales. He became wealthy 150 years ago by employing convicts, and subsequently endowed a chair at the University of St Andrews that continues to this day. Lord James Stevenson, my father’s first cousin, chaired the empire exhibition committee in the 1920s and was responsible for the building of the first Wembley stadium.
Will the member take an intervention?
I really do not have time.
I do not think that it would have been friendly.
My great-uncle Alex Stevenson, lord provost in this city, ensured that the statues to Robert the Bruce and William Wallace were installed on either side of the entrance to Edinburgh castle in 1929.
The attraction of genealogy, which the cabinet secretary referred to, is one of the branches of history and one that is intensely personal. It is also one in which someone will never finish their research. That means that there is the opportunity for people to make lots of repeat visits.
Of course, when one discovers something that took place 200 years ago that today would be bad news, it is merely interesting. In a parish record of a child’s birth, I once saw the phrase “conceived in ante-nuptual fornication”. If that had been my parent, that might have been one thing but, as a description of something that took place 200 years ago, it is fascinating, because it is redolent of another age.
And there, I am afraid, you must close.
I must go back to the National Records of Scotland to read the 200 pages of court papers and the 17 precognitions and so on that relate to the case of the young man who stole a coat from a Leith Walk house in August 1830 and got a free trip to Australia for his pains.
Thank you very much—I am now enlightened on your family.15:48
I am sure that we can all agree that Scotland’s heritage is vital to our economy, our culture and the history that we will pass on to the next generation. As such, the safekeeping of our heritage is a responsibility that we should take seriously and, to do that, we must recognise that adequate funding, including for local government, is essential. Therefore, although I support the Government’s motion, I also support Labour’s amendment.
A fundamental aspect of our heritage that is often ignored is that of workers’ struggle. The social artefacts that men and women in our industrial areas left behind can help to inform future generations of that struggle and the working-class background that many of us grew up with. The mines, steelworks and factories of the industrial belt built our prosperity as a nation, and those who worked there deserve to be remembered.
I understand that the festival of museums will begin in May with events across Scotland to encourage visitors to see our heritage. Fortunately, we are privileged in central Scotland to have great examples of workers’ heritage attractions, including in my home town of Coatbridge.
Summerlee heritage museum, which was originally planned and built by Monklands District Council, is based around the site of a 19th century ironworks. Entry to it is free. l used to be able to boast that Coatbridge had the only working trams left in Scotland, as the museum has a tramway, which is operated by volunteers, that takes visitors to the model drift mine and cottages.
The mine is extremely well done and gives a sense of what it must have been like to toil underground, never seeing the sun and breathing in dust, dirt and fumes. The guides who take visitors down talk about the miners through the ages, the horrendous working conditions and the industrial diseases and ailments. Indeed, one of the model miner figures shows clearly the extent of what was known as miner’s tattoo: a blue scarring caused by coal getting into cuts and abrasions. The cottages show living conditions from the 1840s to the 1980s.
In the museum’s main hall, visitors can see social history artefacts, including trade union banners and election posters, such as one for Jennie Lee. Outside are the remains of the Monkland canal, with a replica of the Vulcan, the world’s first iron-hulled vessel. There is also an outside playground for young ones.
Over the years, I have taken many visitors from home and abroad to that fantastic museum to learn about the toil and togetherness that helped to build Britain throughout the industrial revolution and beyond. However, one of my most memorable visits was with Dr Aleida Guevara, daughter of Che Guevara, who was staying with me for a few days in Coatbridge. She was extremely impressed by the museum, but she particularly enjoyed having a shot on the flying fox in the playground area—the memory of her on the flying fox still lives with me.
We should recognise the achievement of a small Labour council in taking on such an innovative, forward-thinking project as the Summerlee heritage museum and leaving a legacy for future generations. I have said previously that I do not imagine that holidaymakers will flock en masse to the Costa Coatbridge, but I highly recommend that visitors come to see Summerlee, as well as Drumpellier country park and the time capsule.
It is important not only to highlight places, but to remember the people who are part of our history and heritage. I noted recently that the Scotswummin project has been set up to remember and celebrate the life and work of Scottish women, who have been too often overlooked. I take this opportunity to promote Janet Hamilton, a great poet who detailed the changing shape and culture of her native Langloan area in Coatbridge—indeed, there is a monument to her there.
The member is quite right that we need to do more in Scotland to celebrate women and our heritage. Would she help to encourage people to promote the heritage plaques programme, which is run by Historic Environment Scotland? We are particularly keen to get women who have helped to forge Scotland’s history commemorated right across Scotland.
I thank the cabinet secretary for that intervention. Perhaps we can consider Janet Hamilton for that commemoration.
As it is still January, it is relevant to refer to Robert Burns, who died the year before Janet Hamilton was born and whom she cited as one of her greatest influences. She wrote a poem for the centenary of his birth in 1859 and recited it at the Burns centenary festival in Dumfries that year. I will share the first verse with members, but I hope that they will forgive my delivery, as I have a bit of a cold.
“Oh Bard beloved! As pilgrims to thy shrine
With song and gift we come, our vows to pay;
The growing fame of a hundred years is thine,
And lands and nations hail thy natal day.”
In 1868, Janet Hamilton dedicated one of her published volumes of poetry—“Poems and Ballads”—to
“her brothers, The Men of the Working Classes.”
Women such as Janet Hamilton documented the story of Scotland and its people: their loves and losses, their community and their solidarity. It is important to remember them.
I will mention briefly the heritage of those who moved to this country looking for a better life, who include some of my ancestors. In particular, the Irish community in Scotland helped to lay the foundations of many of our great towns and cities. They made a home here, built churches and raised children who went on to become doctors, builders, teachers and engineers. Their story is reflected in many parts of Scotland; it is a story of triumph in the face of adversity and of the success of hard work across the generations.
In Coatbridge, we celebrate that heritage with an annual St Patrick’s festival that lasts for two weeks, celebrating all aspects of Irish culture and its legacy, and attracting visitors from home and abroad. I am sure that all members would be welcome to come along to the festival this year. It is a great example of the sort of heritage that we should be championing in Scotland: cross-community, co-operative and constructive. We should reflect the mixed palette that makes Scotland the place that we all love, and we must invest in both education and upkeep.15:54
I am glad to speak in this debate. The opportunity to talk about the constituency of Motherwell and Wishaw and its heritage is one that I truly relish. My first home was in north Motherwell, adjacent to Strathclyde country park and, as a youngster, I was fascinated by the Roman remains in the park.
It is believed that the Romans came to the Motherwell area in 140 AD. A garrison of some 600 soldiers was based overlooking the South Calder Water. In the 1970s, a bath house was discovered during the landscaping of the park, which revealed a carved drain cover that is thought to be one of the best in Europe. It is now housed in a museum in London, so it might be more than the Lewis chessmen that we seek to have returned.
The area is now protected for wildlife, which I am sure will have been of interest in our year of natural heritage, so further investigations are not possible at the moment. If members are interested, they might want to consult my colleague Gordon MacDonald, who I believe was involved in some of the research while studying archaeology. I was a mere wee lassie at the time.
The bath house is the only standing-stone remains of its type in Scotland and is open freely to the public, making it an attraction for children, dog walkers and tourists alike.
More recently, artefacts from the lost medieval village of Cadzow were found near the M74, during the excavations for the current motorway works near the Raith interchange. I was delighted to be able to attend the unveiling of the finds, at the edge of the motorway bordering Strathclyde country park, along with the then Minister for Transport, Keith Brown. The finds included two structures, coins, pieces of pottery and—not very politically correct for modern Scotland—smoking pipes. Archaeologists believe that they may be more than 1,000 years old and could finally identify the location of the lost village of Cadzow, which was the name given to a community on the edge of the River Clyde at the location until 1445.
The artefacts and structures were uncovered close to a memorial stone marking the former position of the 1,000-year-old Netherton cross—one of the earliest symbols of Christianity and one of the most valuable pre-Norman Christian relics in Scotland.
Warren Bailie, from Guard Archaeology, said at the time:
“Medieval remains rarely survive in industrial centres such as Glasgow due to widespread industrialisation of the nineteenth century, including mining, road and housing construction.
Very few medieval settlements have survived, so we’re delighted to recover and record such a rare and interesting piece of Scottish history.”
There is no doubt that Lanarkshire and some of our most valuable buildings have been ravaged by the industrial era. In my area, very few of the old houses remain, most of them having had to be destroyed because of undermining.
Also included in the Cadzow finds was a lead pistol shot. It was on the floor of one of the structures and is possible evidence that an officer involved in the battle of Bothwell bridge in 1679 may have taken cover in the then ruins of the buildings at Netherton.
That brings me to my next tale of intrigue and interest. Presiding Officer, you will know how I love my dog Coco and that I really enjoy a walk with her at Greenhead Moss in Cambusnethan. One of the most mysterious stories in the area concerns the discovery of a partially preserved body of a man in the peat bog in the 1930s. The remains consisted of decayed fragments of human bones, clothed in a wool jacket, shoes, stockings and a cap. A report on the finds in the Transactions of the Glasgow Archaeological Society concluded:
“Laid upon the improvised stretcher the body was apparently carried over a considerable stretch of desolate bog and disposed of furtively—the burial in unconsecrated ground suggests a case of suicide; yet the slashed bonnet and shoe, indicating sword thrusts, seem to weaken this conjecture.
It cannot be stated definitely whether this killing episode was connected with the fighting induced by the religious disturbances prevalent in the district in the later part of the 17th century.
Nor can it be affirmed whether the victim was a military or civilian person. He did not belong to the very lowest grade of society. If a Royalist he was more likely to have been a foot soldier ... A dragoon in uniform would wear boots, not shoes, and his equipment, as described in the ancient records, was apparently of better quality and ... greater elaboration than that now discovered
If the victim were a Covenanter he may have been cut off unbeknown to his companions and his body, bearing wounds on the neck and foot, carried away secretly and probably in darkness by the aggressors and given a hurried burial”.
The dating of the body was done by a costume expert—a Mrs Helen Bennet of the National Museum of Antiquities—and, just like the stories of the chess men and the drain cover, its story involves a request for return: the central community council in Wishaw petitioned the Kelvingrove museum to have at least part of the remains returned so that they could be interred at the Covenanters monument on Greenhead Moss.
Motherwell is at the heart of Scottish history—so much so that it inspired one of the world’s greatest historians, Tom Devine—so I recommend to everybody to come to Motherwell, surrounded by history and castles. There is the historic town of Lanark, with its links to William Wallace, and there is New Lanark as well. The whole of Scottish history is there, including political history, as we had the first Scottish National Party member of Parliament in 1945.16:00
This afternoon’s debate has a bit of the feel of a balloon debate. It will come as no surprise to anyone fortunate enough to have watched the recent BBC series “Ancient Orkney” that I whole-heartedly welcome the debate; indeed, I feel moved to declare an interest on behalf of my entire constituency. Instead, I offer my strong support for the cabinet secretary’s motion.
Likewise, I believe that the amendments from Alexander Stewart and Lewis Macdonald sensibly highlight the partnership approach as well as the resources that are essential to making a success of this year of history, heritage and archaeology. I want to return to that point shortly, drawing on a particular example in the Orkney context that perhaps underscores the work that still needs to be done to match the laudable sentiments that are set out in the Government’s motion more consistently with the reality on the ground.
However, the cabinet secretary is certainly right to point to the success of the themed years. They have provided an opportunity to bring together different aspects of national life in Scotland, celebrate them and promote them to a wider audience. Each plays to our strengths but recognises the inherent risks in resting on our laurels. History, heritage and archaeology fit the bill perfectly and very much deserve their time in the spotlight.
I hope that over the coming year, more people will come to recognise and value what it is that Scotland as a whole has to offer and the extent to which every community right across the country has a part to play in telling that story as well as its own story.
Archaeology, heritage and history are fundamentally important in shaping our identity by increasing our understanding of the people of the past as well as by promoting popular local and visitor interest. In Orkney, what has been striking over the years is the extent to which local communities themselves often provide the driving force. The Sanday Development Trust is only one example of the enthusiasm, commitment and local knowledge of people in the community—with the input of experienced archaeologists and specialists—leading to wonderful discoveries and a much clearer picture of the past.
Similar groups exist around Orkney and nationwide, as acknowledged by the cabinet secretary in her remarks. Without them, we would have nothing like our current understanding of our history and heritage. The same, of course, can be said of the network of local rangers, who certainly do a fabulous job in Orkney and, I dare say, across the country.
That all needs to be supported, however. Building capacity at a local level is vital—not just extending the powers of Historic Environment Scotland at the centre. It requires support for regional archaeologists, who are under threat in a number of places across Scotland.
In passing, I note that the current archaeology strategy for Scotland has been criticised in some quarters for perhaps underplaying the role of universities in both research and education. That strikes me as slightly counterintuitive. I hope that the cabinet secretary might agree to investigate to see what more can be done to set out that role more clearly.
As I mentioned in my earlier exchange with the cabinet secretary, we are hugely fortunate in Scotland to have six world heritage sites, which are recognised by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as having global cultural and natural heritage significance. Obviously the heart of neolithic Orkney site has been the one grabbing the headlines of late, thanks to Neil Oliver and co, and there is no doubt that Nick Card and his team deserve enormous credit for the astonishing work that they are doing at the ness of Brodgar. It has been fascinating to witness first hand the challenging of long-held assumptions about the neolithic age based on what is being unearthed at the ness. Some of us, Presiding Officer, take quiet satisfaction—indeed vindication—at proof of Orkney’s place at the centre of civilisation.
Disappointingly, however, the remarkable finds at the ness, their capturing of the public imagination and the interest in Orkney and in archaeology more generally that they generated coincided with what I believe was a ludicrous decision by Historic Environment Scotland, first, to close and, subsequently, to limit access to one of the jewels in the crown—Maeshowe.
Fiona Hyslop knows about and probably shares my concerns about what happened there. It illustrates that the aspirations that underpin the year of history, heritage and archaeology are still some distance from being realised consistently on the ground. I welcome the agreement by the HES chief executive, Alex Paterson, to visit Orkney next week to meet stakeholders, including representatives of the local tourism industry, to discuss possible solutions. The urgency of those talks should not be underestimated.
We need action in the short term, not least to avoid squandering the benefits of the current focus on Orkney. We cannot afford to raise expectations on the one hand and then fail to deliver for potential visitors on the other. We also need a more ambitious long-term solution. It makes no sense at all to serve our world-class heritage sites with anything less than world-class infrastructure and facilities, yet that is what is happening in this instance. What more fitting legacy could there be for the year of history, heritage and archaeology than a firm commitment by the Government, its agencies and local partners to deliver the sort of world heritage gateway in Orkney that will do justice to the internationally renowned sites there? I very much hope that the cabinet secretary agrees on that point.
I will raise one more example of how I think the year ahead could be used to make progress by developing interest in and understanding of our heritage, this time by growing an increasingly important segment of the tourism sector in Scotland. Scapa Flow’s decisive role in both world wars puts Orkney in a special position when it comes to attracting the growing numbers of people with a passion for military history. Last year’s Jutland centenary commemorations provided ample evidence of that. As more of those with lived experience of the wars pass away, we can expect the interest in what they went through only to increase and intensify, and that should be recognised and reflected in whatever is planned for the rest of the year ahead.
I warmly welcome the fact that 2017 is to be the year of history, heritage and archaeology. As with past years, however, the challenge will be to ensure that it leaves a positive and lasting legacy. On that basis, I hope that Fiona Hyslop will reflect on the areas that I have identified and respond positively in due course.16:07
Despite all of the troubling news that seems to be rolling round the world early in 2017, there is at least one domestic agenda to get excited about, and that is of course our subject for debate today—our year of history, heritage and archaeology. I agree with the cabinet secretary that it is something to get excited about—and no wonder, given the outstanding success of the two previous themed years. Last year’s focus on innovation, architecture and design saw Scottish projects featured across the world. In 2015, the year of food and drink allowed Scottish produce to be noticed on the international stage, resulting in a visitor spend of almost £1 billion on food and drink, the highest ever recorded. Both 2015 and 2016 were a phenomenal success for Scotland, and I have every confidence that 2017 will be another fabulous year for our country—and Stirling—to showcase what we have to offer.
I say to Clare Adamson that, actually, it is my constituency of Stirling that is at the heart of Scotland’s history and heritage. Indeed, the city of Stirling was built on history, with our streets, homes, schools and businesses clustered around the magnificent fortress castle and medieval old town. Stirling also played a role in Scotland’s Roman history, as Alison Harris will be pleased to note. There are remnants of an old Roman road running alongside Stirling golf club. Of course, like many other places, Stirling’s heritage and history go back much further than that. It is hard to believe but, in 5,000 BC—I was not around at the time—a huge tsunami hit Stirling, leaving behind whale bones on the carse, which nowadays hosts one of the busiest roads in Stirlingshire. The town of Callander is famous not just for its links with Rob Roy; it is also home to a neolithic site that includes the Auchenlaich cairn, which, at 322m in length, is the longest burial cairn in the United Kingdom.
Looking forward, what does Stirling have to offer in this year of history, heritage and archaeology? First off, we are home to the wonderful Stirling castle, which was once a palace for some of Scotland’s most notable kings and queens. Following Historic Scotland’s £12 million palace project, the magnificent James IV renaissance palace was returned to how it would have looked in the 1540s. Since that renovation, Stirling has welcomed around 460,000 visitors a year to its castle. Last year, it was deservedly named Scotland’s best visitor attraction—Edinburgh, eat your heart out. I encourage anyone who has yet to visit the castle to do so; it is really worth a look.
My constituency is also home to Cambuskenneth abbey and Inchmahome priory, which is found on the island of Inchmahome in the Lake of Menteith. It was, of course, at Cambuskenneth that the nobility and clergy of Scotland swore fealty to David Bruce as the heir to King Robert in 1326 at the first Parliament to include representatives of the burghs. That was a real step forward for democracy in Scotland.
Inchmahome played host to many important figures throughout Scotland’s history, including Robert the Bruce and Mary, Queen of Scots, who found refuge on the island. It is also the burial place of a significant political figure from Scotland’s past: Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham, who was a founder member of the Scottish Labour Party and the National Party of Scotland. It is little known that the island is his burial place and, although I have praised Historic Environment Scotland, I am a critical friend of the organisation on that point. I agree with Elaine Smith that we need to do more to remember our people. There is a fantastic opportunity at the Lake of Menteith to do a lot more to recognise that colourful and flamboyant character from our past.
Stirling is also fortunate to have the wonderful resource of the Stirling Smith art gallery and museum, as well as being home to the renowned battlegrounds of the Scottish wars of independence at Stirling bridge and Bannockburn. The state-of-the-art visitor centre at the site of the battle of Bannockburn has brought an abundance of new visitors to the area, which has benefited local residents and businesses alike. However, we really need to complete the telling of Stirling’s history by erecting the planned magnificent memorial statue to William Wallace and Andrew de Moray at the site of the Stirling bridge battle.
I was privileged to host a VisitScotland reception last week to help to showcase how the year of history, heritage and archaeology can be realised in the best possible way for Scotland. On the night, one thing that really captured my imagination was a new virtual reality app that VisitScotland is developing. Using the app to fly around the majestic Wallace monument was a truly remarkable experience and showed me strongly the power of virtual reality for the future. It is a fantastic tool in enabling potential visitors to explore our history, landscape and heritage and encouraging them to travel to Scotland.
Recently, I was delighted that the cabinet secretary announced that Doune castle would be one of the sites in Scotland to receive a portion of £6.6 million of funding to support conservation, repair and visitor facilities. The castle’s visitor numbers have been boosted after it featured in the “Outlander” television series, which my excitable staff informed me was recently filming near the Parliament.
Stirling has such a wealth of history that, if it happened in Scotland, Stirling was probably involved somehow. Therefore, like the cabinet secretary, I am incredibly excited to see what the year of history, heritage and archaeology will bring.
Time is creeping up on us, so I ask the remaining speakers to stick to six minutes.16:13
Please accept my apologies in advance for joining many members in sounding a bit like a VisitScotland advert. Although I cannot compete with Elaine Smith and Costa Coatbridge, it would be remiss of me not to do my bit to talk up the Solway riviera. It is the part of the world that I know best and about which I know the most. I also believe that Dumfriesshire is one of the most diverse and distinguished parts of Scotland and I welcome the opportunity to take part in a debate in which we are all united in talking up communities the length and breadth of our country.
Dumfriesshire is best known as the land of Burns, JM Barrie and, of course, Bruce. Indeed, it does not matter what era or area of Scottish national life and history we look at, the connections can be seen in every town, village and settlement that I represent. From the Covenanters to world war commanders, from the great Border reivers to our poets, from kings to simple country folk living life as they have always done, our heritage is in abundance.
In particular, I think of Langholm common riding, which takes place every year and is a sight to behold, with people lining the streets as folk from the town and nearby ride out to mark the boundaries of the land, making new the traditions of the past and keeping our history alive. Having recently taken up horse riding, I hope that I will be able to join them next year. I also think of the old blacksmith’s shop at Gretna Green, which has become famous the world over as a place where marriage ceremonies take place, and all the history that is wrapped up in that.
In relation to more recent history, I think of the devil’s porridge museum, which has relatively recently reopened on a new purpose-built site in Eastriggs. It commemorates the great war and the efforts of tens of thousands of women who produced munitions in HM Factory Gretna. I want to take this opportunity to pay tribute to the incredible work that members of the community have done to ensure that that story is told and given justice. As we look at the events that are planned across the year, it is good to see the grass roots involvement in such projects across Scotland.
Going further back, we have Lochmaben castle, which is linked to Robert the Bruce, and, of course Caerlaverock castle on the Solway estuary—or riviera—near Dumfries, which has not only become a monument to our past but is a great site for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts. Further north, in upper Nithsdale, the Crawick Multiverse is in full swing just outside Sanquhar. It not only recognises the impact of mining in that area and acknowledges that heritage but also creates a new attraction and makes the area once again a destination for visitors from further afield.
I mentioned Burns earlier and, as I said in a debate last week, one cannot visit the Dumfriesshire constituency without finding oneself on the Burns trail, whether visiting his home in Dumfries, the mausoleum where he is buried in St Michael’s kirk yard, his farm at Ellisland or the Brow well just outside Ruthwell.
Of course, going further back, we have some interesting archaeological history that has recently come to light at Burnswark hill just outside Ecclefechan, which was the site of a Roman battle. The distinctive flat-topped hill where those events took place can be seen for miles around and I encourage anyone with an interest to take a look at that.
Finally, I mention Thomas Telford, who was born in Westerkirk. This week, because a book on his life is featured on Radio 4’s “Book of the Week”, we have heard once again his remarkable story.
There is so much to cover and so much heritage and history right on our doorsteps. I believe that it is for all of us to encourage people to take advantage of those opportunities and to sell our country not just to our fellow countrymen but to those around the world. I commend the efforts of VisitScotland and others in highlighting our cultural assets. However, we cannot afford to be complacent, and on a more substantive point I encourage ministers and the Scottish Government to do all that they can to ensure that our tourist industry is as well supported as possible and to help to ensure that we have the right mix of skills. In particular, I think of projects undertaken by Dumfries and Galloway College that are ensuring that that is the case in our local economy. I strongly believe that we must give the new south of Scotland enterprise agency the remit to help our tourism businesses to make the most of our culture and heritage and ensure that people are well supported to take their ambitions forward.
I thank the Scottish Government for bringing this debate to the chamber and giving me an opportunity to highlight some of the visitor destinations and areas of interest in my constituency.16:20
I welcome this debate on celebrating our past. Scotland is a nation built on history and, as we have heard from other members, history forms a great part of our appeal as a tourist destination. My colleagues’ contributions today have inspired me to get out and see more of my ain country.
Scotland’s history is loaded with great academic, cultural, philosophical and literary achievements. In my constituency, Aberdeenshire East, we have more than our fair share of those. It has always bewildered me that more is not made of our corner of the country in the tourism portfolio. At the weekend, I had a wee go at BuzzFeed for omitting Slains castle near Cruden Bay from its article on 25 Scottish locations that could easily be in “Game of Thrones”. Mine was not in there. It knows now.
A literary tour of my constituency would rival any other. The starting point could be Mintlaw, to see the ancient “Book of Deer” in the museum dedicated to it. It is a 10th century gospel that survives as the earliest-known example of Gaelic writing in Scotland. A 10-minute trip takes us to Strichen to find out about the novelist Lorna Moon, who left the small town at the turn of the century and ended up as one of the top screenwriters in Hollywood in the 1920s. The story of her colourful life reads like a film script in itself. Ten minutes away, we can nip over to Fetterangus and ask about Jean and Lucy Stewart, collectors and performers of the north-east’s folk ballads from the travelling folk tradition. Many of those ballads influenced artists such as Bob Dylan and inspired the folk revival of the 1960s.
Driving south towards Cruden Bay, we see the inspiration for Count Dracula’s castle, Slains castle, on the edge of the magnificent cliffs of the Buchan coast. It certainly fits the bill for a dramatic setting for the home one of literature’s best-known characters. Bram Stoker was a frequent summer guest and drew on its haunting qualities for his work. A top tip is to go at sunset, when the granite seems to glow red in the light. It is very spooky.
Heading inland, we come across Gight castle. That spectacular, famously eerie castle, which is now a ruin, is perhaps most renowned for being the childhood home of George Gordon, better known as the poet Lord Byron. One of Scotland’s best-loved authors, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, was born in Auchterless, just beside Turriff. Anyone who is, like me, a fan of “Sunset Song”, might want to see where he was born before they head to the Mearns, where his works were set.
It is not just literary history that we have in abundance. Take those who have an interest in Robert the Bruce and the wars of Scottish independence. After visiting Bruce Crawford’s constituency, come up to mine and follow in the footsteps of Robert the Bruce and his brother Edward as they drove out his enemy, the third earl of Buchan. That was known as the harrying of Buchan. The battlefield of the battle of Barra is currently under research to be inventoried and protected by Historic Scotland. All that activity might explain why Aberdeenshire has more castles per acre than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. A number of those castles are on the excellent National Trust for Scotland castle trail in Aberdeenshire, including Fyvie castle—the song The Bonnie Lass o’ Fyvie” comes from that area, too—and Haddo house in my constituency. Those castles are now part of the nation’s fantastic cultural heritage. I pay tribute to the fine work of volunteer organisations such as the Tarves, Turriff and Garioch heritage centres in my constituency for keeping that history alive.
Turning to archaeology, Aberdeenshire has a further unique attraction in our recumbent stone circles. These monuments are peculiar to the north-east and there are a number of fine examples in my constituency, including Easter Aquhorthies near Inverurie, Loanhead of Daviot and Aikey Brae between Maud and New Deer. An authority on those stones is the former rock star turned archaeology writer Julian Cope, who wrote “The Modern Antiquarian”, which is a directory of all the stone circles in the British isles. Julian has visited Aberdeenshire many times over the years to record the history and location of the many standing stones and circles. He has a website, if members ever want to find one near them. In Aberdeenshire, we have the highest concentration of standing stones anywhere.
My parents have a stone circle in their back field in Shieldon of Bourtie, which is near Oldmeldrum, and one day my mother was surprised to see chapping on her door Mr Cope, this long-haired bloke who she kind of recognised from “Top of the Pops”, who was there to ask if he could have a look. His visit is recorded in the book, although my mum is not mentioned.
We also have the Pictish monument of the Brandsbutt stone in Inverurie. Its carvings are dated to around 600 AD. We also have Roman remains from where the Picts drove them away from their camps. The Romans did not make many inroads into my area, because we are hardy folk.
In this year of history, heritage and archaeology we must encourage not only tourists but those who live in Scotland to engage with our past. People visiting our castles, heritage centres and attractions will help not only the economy, but us to better understand the present and pass on our culture and heritage to our kids. Kids love a ghost story and they also love a gory tale. Who needs “Game of Thrones” or “Outlander” when we have the real thing on our doorstep? We just need to bring things alive again by visiting those places and telling all the stories about them.16:25
Gosh! What a wonderful walk through Scottish heritage we have had this afternoon. It has been absolutely brilliant. I commend Bruce Crawford for his excellent extolling of Stirling castle, which is my regimental home. However, he failed to mention the wonderful museum that is being developed there with Heritage Lottery Fund money, which is worth seeing and which I commend to members. It is slightly out of my region, but it is in my regimental family. I am passionate about that castle, which is very dear to me.
As a member of the Scottish Parliament for the West Scotland region, I am lucky enough to represent a part of Scotland that has many landmarks and historic sites that are of both local and national significance. Where do I start? There are so many to count. I shall refer to some of the key ones in my region.
We have Dumbarton castle, which is an Argyll and Southern Highlanders regimental site for the ninth battalion. It is built atop the imposing volcanic plug that is known as Dumbarton rock and has specular views over the Clyde and Dumbarton—for anyone who is willing to brave the 557 steps to the top.
There is also Kelburn castle, which is near Fairlie in North Ayrshire. It is a 13th century castle that has been given a makeover, in a very 21st century style, by four Brazilian graffiti artists.
Brodick castle, on the isle of Arran, is the former seat of the dukes of Hamilton. It is such an imposing and beautiful site that it is on the back of the Royal Bank of Scotland £20 note.
I think that I picked up Maurice Corry right when I heard him say “Brazilian graffiti artists”. Are there no graffiti artists in Dumbarton?
I am sure that there are. I knew some of them in the 11 years that I served as company commander in the Territorial Army unit there—I am sure that we certainly had a few in our unit. I am more than happy to send them across to Kelburn castle.
In Helensburgh there is the Hill house, which was designed by the world-renowned architects, Charles and Margaret Rennie Macintosh. In Old Kilpatrick we have the west end of the Antonine wall, which is well known in my area and is well visited. The east end of the wall is at Falkirk.
We also have Paisley abbey, which is recognised as the cradle of the royal house of Stewart and is the burial place of all six of the high stewards of Scotland. Being a Stewart myself, I should perhaps have declared an interest.
Those are just a few of the sites in the west of Scotland that people from across the world flock to in their droves every year to see and marvel at. That such sites bring social, cultural and economic benefits to communities right across Scotland is something that I am sure that members will agree on and welcome.
According to Historic Environment Scotland, which is one of the partner organisations that is helping to run Scotland’s year of history, heritage and archaeology, Scotland’s history and the industry that it supports secures more than 60,000 jobs and is worth more than £2 billion a year to our economy.
Historic sites have economic benefits, which are of course welcome, and there is also the opportunity for Scots and visitors alike to learn and appreciate our shared history and heritage, which is of untold benefit to our societies and communities across the country. That is why all attempts to encourage people to visit Scotland as a historic site, and in particular visit our many historic sites in the west of Scotland, are very welcome. Themed years, such as the year of history, heritage and archaeology can play a big part in helping us to do that.
I am glad to see that included in this year’s programme—Mr Adam will be delighted to hear this—is Paisley’s international festival of weaving, which is running on 1 and 2 July. I believe that some events will be held at the Sma’ Shot Cottages complex and others across the town. The events cover two days, giving both locals and visitors alike the opportunity to connect with Paisley’s proud history of weaving and textile manufacturing.
It is a great idea and I hope that it goes well. Having started my own business training and career in JP Coats’s Anchor and Ferguslie mills in Paisley, I am very pleased to see that the town’s textile history and heritage are now being exposed and promoted to the world at large.
I am glad that my colleague Alexander Stewart, in his amendment, is highlighting the vital role that VisitScotland and the partner organisations are playing. Those are Creative Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the National Trust for Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, the Built Environment Forum Scotland, the heritage tourism group, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the Scottish Tourism Alliance, Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland—known as TRACS—and Museums and Galleries Scotland.
All those organisations are helping to promote the year of history, heritage and archaeology in Scotland and around the world. Without organisations like those doing the hard work in helping our tourism industry, I am sure that it would be a lot smaller and would not be contributing to the economy and society in general as much as it is.
I mentioned Museums and Galleries Scotland and I want to take this opportunity to note its work. In particular, I was lucky enough to visit the Clydebank museum with it late last year. The museum holds a number of superb exhibitions on shipbuilding on the Clyde, including one that has the name of every single ship that was ever built on the Clyde. What a great heritage for Scotland.
Another great museum will open in my home town of Helensburgh this year: the Scottish Submarine centre will exhibit and commemorate the Royal Navy’s submarine service. I know that the cabinet secretary is aware of that, and indeed visited the big brother, the Tower centre, a year or so ago.
The museum will have a real midget submarine—HMS Stickleback—on display alongside a digital exhibition giving visitors, including those with family members in the submarine service, the opportunity to see what the day-to-day life of submariners is really like.
As Alexander Stewart correctly points out, it is vital that our tourism and development agencies are adequately funded and resourced to help this incredibly important sector to thrive and thus ensure that Scotland remains a world-class tourist destination.
I will support Alexander Stewart’s amendment.16:32
I, too, warmly welcome 2017 as the year of history, heritage and archaeology and I welcome the opportunities that it will provide to celebrate Edinburgh Northern and Leith’s vibrant history and heritage and to raise the profile of the area that I represent and of Scotland as a whole.
Edinburgh Northern and Leith makes a significant contribution to Scotland’s profile and its strong reputation as a world-class tourism destination. Whether people arrive in Leith on a cruise ship at the waterfront, which is a growing trend among visitors, or whether they travel from the town centre of Edinburgh into the area, Edinburgh Northern and Leith is replete with superb attractions for visitors from all around the world—attractions of key historical significance that are a key part of our shared national heritage.
From the fishing communities of Newhaven to the industry of Granton, from the internationalism of the old port of Leith to the influence of imperial commerce and the slave trade in the residential development of Inverleith and Trinity, the history and heritage of the constituency that I have the privilege to represent are varied and complex and are bound into our wider stories and the achievements and mistakes of generations past.
The most famous attractions in my area are the royal yacht Britannia, which has been settled in Leith docks for several years, and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which was established in 1670 as Scotland’s premier civic garden and is the second most important botanic garden in the UK. It moved into Leith in 1793 and in 1820 was relocated to Inverleith, where it is now. I pay tribute to all the efforts of the Royal Botanic Garden to conserve Scotland’s biodiversity and reduce climate change.
As well as those famous examples, there are many less well-known attractions and sites of historical significance in Edinburgh Northern and Leith. Granton harbour is where Queen Victoria landed in Scotland in September 1842. Today, it is in the process of being rejuvenated as a waterfront attraction for our country. National Museums Scotland and the National Galleries of Scotland have collection centres in the north of Edinburgh and are considering making those fantastic facilities more accessible in order to display more of our heritage to the public.
There is rich heritage in Leith, from the old docks to the civic journey of Leith itself, and from the legacy of Leith’s democratic journey to products that we associate with our everyday lives that were invented in Leith, such as Rose’s lime cordial, Glayva and the grain spirit that was key to the development of London dry gin. Also associated with Leith are modern cultural phenomena such as “Trainspotting”. We are all excited to see “Trainspotting 2”, if we have not seen it already.
I am glad that the member came to that, because one of the serious points is that, when I speak to people in such communities during the Edinburgh festival, they say that they feel completely and utterly detached from much of the stuff that goes on around all the cultural events. How are we getting out to communities in Granton, Wester Hailes, Niddrie and the rest of it?
That is a good point. I was going to say that “Trainspotting” as a phenomenon tells us all about not just the character of Leith but the socioeconomic challenges that we all face in trying to help communities such as Leith. There were moves to get the premiere of “Trainspotting 2” in Leith; I was in correspondence on that behind the scenes. However, I will move on to other aspects of tourism in Leith that may create such opportunities.
Leith theatre—I know that the cabinet secretary has been engaged in that project—was, unfortunately, closed in 1988, but there are now moves to re-establish it and use it as a cultural hub to spread the benefits of our festivals into other parts of the city. Leith rules golf society is working hard to establish an attraction on Leith Links, where the first rules of golf were created in 1744. That could bring benefits to Leith. At Leith docks, a great group of volunteers is involved in trying to rejuvenate the SS Explorer, which was one of Scotland’s first purpose-built ocean-going fisheries research vessels and one of its lead research facilities for 28 years. I am delighted to say that the fire museum will also be coming to Leith soon, and Leith is home to Scotland’s first virtual reality centre, with all the possibilities that that can bring.
The heritage of Hibernian Football Club is also a big part of Leith’s history. The historic Scottish cup win meant a huge amount to the community and will be remembered fondly for a long time.
I will finish by talking about the history of Leith as a vibrant hub for Scotland’s multicultural journey and burgeoning diversity. As a sea port and as a community, and as more and more families have made the area their home over the decades, Leith has developed into a positive and inspiring tapestry of ethnicities and faiths. Many threads and stories are woven into the united colours of a shared and modern one international Scotland.
From the gurdwara at the Shore to south Leith parish church, from the Annandale Street mosque to St Mary’s Star of the Sea, Leith today represents the best of Scotland’s diverse religious heritage. From Polish cafes such as Yellow Bench to established Italian restaurants such as Vittoria, and from social enterprises such as Punjabi Junction to Portuguese coffee shops such as Casa Amiga, Leith today embodies the richness and strength of Scotland’s multicultural history.
With all that is happening on this island and around the world at present, as we celebrate and recognise 2017 as the year of history, heritage and archaeology, let us remember that the most important history and heritage that we share—what we must always celebrate, recognise and promote—is our internationalist shared history and heritage and our shared common humanity.16:39
I am happy to support initiatives that bring people to visit our great country and all that it offers, which create and sustain employment and which stimulate interest in our people and our country’s history.
We have certainly been around the country this afternoon, from Brazilian graffiti artists in Dumbarton to Stirling castle, the Falkirk wheel, Summerlee heritage museum, Netherton and neolithic Orkney. Even the ex-lead singer of the Teardrop Explodes has been mentioned.
Mr McArthur mentioned Orkney. I understand that his partner in crime, Mr Tavish Scott, is not here. Mr Scott might be engaged in some culture at Up Helly Aa, although I imagine that he is probably in the pub.
The debate has got me thinking about past and present issues that dominate our historical narrative. It has also got me wondering whether, against the backdrop of savage cuts to local government and other public services, the initiative that we are discussing and others like it can be implemented effectively and can reach out to not just the usual people but everyone, or whether, like much of what the Government does, the initiative appears to be good but is maybe less so when we scratch the surface.
I could probably recite Stewart Stevenson’s family history, as I have heard it so often in the chamber. At least he spared members the story of his career inventing the internet, being a pilot and being a water bailiff, and the story of the numerous other absolutely fascinating events in his life. He also spared us the story of Mary, Queen of Scots and her trunk of treasure in which keys go all over the place. Do not worry—he will bring that story back to the chamber several times before members leave Parliament. Jackson Carlaw and I are probably on our sixth version of it.
The member might like to know that Stewart Stevenson passed me a note during the debate that says that Robert Bontine Cunninghame Graham was the great-uncle of the spouse of a great-nephew of the spouse of a second cousin once removed of his. Beat that one.
Bruce Crawford started by saying that I might be interested to know that. He was incorrect on that point.
Is the Government asking communities, councils and local groups to put on events and promote the year of history, heritage and archaeology without putting money behind that? We know that, this year, councils are threatened with a further £327 million-worth of cuts on top of all the rest of the cuts that they have had to put up with over the 10 years of the Government. A person does not need to be Professor Tom Devine, who is one of my ex-university lecturers, to work out that local authorities’ ability to maintain and invest in culture and heritage is fatally undermined by such an approach.
Across the board, grants to local history groups and cultural organisations are being cut; museums, galleries and libraries are threatened; and staff are losing their jobs. It is hardly surprising that, when choices have to be made between social care and museums or between nursery education and galleries, cultural funding is often seen as an easy target. In such circumstances, we are all the losers.
Some councils have not sat back and complained; they have offered solutions. The authorities in Aberdeen and Edinburgh have called for the power to implement a tourism levy so that they can invest in things that attract tourists here in the first place. However, I understand that the Scottish Government has so far failed to support that levy. Maybe the cabinet secretary would like to take the opportunity now to advise us whether she supports that initiative. Apparently not.
The debate has got me thinking about the history that is promoted in our schools and communities, which reaches into the national and local psyche. Local history—not the histories of kings and queens and battles of centuries ago—is the history that resonates most with people. The history that resonates most with them is about their local identity, which is associated with the development of their village or town or of a particular industry or sector.
Class and cultural identity is central to how a community sees itself and its history. People identify with the history of steel, textiles, oil and fishing. The history of a West Lothian or Midlothian mining community has much more in common with the history of a south Wales mining community than with the history of a Highland country estate. The history of those people is not dominated by Wallace and Bruce or Mary, Queen of Scots; it is dominated by hard graft and struggle for better conditions and wages, improved housing, education for their children and the development of their community, built on common aims and bonds of solidarity.
I see that I have only a minute left, Presiding Officer. That is the history that people want to learn about and celebrate. I wonder how many of the projects that the cabinet secretary promotes and how much of the money that is spent will go to communities and projects that hit right at the grass-roots level. That was my point to Ben Macpherson. How much money will go to places such as Niddrie, Broomhouse, Castlemilk, Milton and Whitfield and areas that are in need of investment but all too often miss out on it?
We need to analyse our history critically and learn from it. We need to learn about Scotland’s role in empire building and the slave trade. We need to hear about huge political figures such as Hardie, Maxton and Jimmy Reid, about events such as those at the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders, Timex and Piper Alpha, and about Glasgow’s role in fighting apartheid.
You must come to a close, Mr Findlay.
We should learn about all those matters. We need not just to target new initiatives towards the usual people but to encourage everyone.16:45
It has been a fascinating debate. We have had everything from fornication to eloping and from battles of old over land to battles new over funding. Admittedly, history was never my strong point at school, but I spent a fair amount of time with a metal detector in the fields near my house searching for old coins. I recall the excitement of finding a penny that was 100 years old.
As an adult, I find that that that excitement is now best expressed by sitting on my sofa, watching catch-up television. Programmes such as last night’s “George III—The Genius of The Mad King” are fascinating. The king’s entire archive of letters is now available online to browse, so we can all trawl the hundreds of thousands of pages of manuscript and interpret for ourselves the world in which he lived, especially his relationships with politicians. We are all historians now. How we access the past has changed, but the excitement of discovery still remains.
Colleagues across the chamber have talked about the importance of Scotland’s heritage for tourism, culture and education. We have discussed the need to foster the skills and craftsmanship that maintaining our historic buildings requires.
I turn to some of the speeches in the debate. Maurice Corry spoke of our shared region—of Arran, Dumbarton and areas across the Clyde region. He said that such sites are not just culturally important but help the economy directly. In fact, on page 3 of The Scotsman today, I read about the launch of a new Jacobite trail that covers a huge part of my region.
Oliver Mundell spoke about Robert Burns. No longer confined to suppers and speeches, we can all walk the hills that he walked and get fou in the pubs that he frequented.
Alison Harris spoke about the great role that Falkirk has played in the history of Scotland. Alexander Stewart spoke of the importance of bringing together the creative industries, the museums, the trusts and our agencies. He also gave a warning that we cannot be complacent: in today’s world, tourism is fiercely competitive and getting on a plane is just as easy as getting on a bus.
The cabinet secretary talked about ancestry and clans as the main reasons why people come to Scotland. I think that golf and whisky are two others, and in that respect I recommend a visit to the Isle of Arran.
Stewart Stevenson spoke—at great length—of genealogy’s importance and his family’s criminality. Clare Adamson spoke of Motherwell, Liam McArthur spoke eloquently of Orkney, Bruce Crawford spoke of Stirling and Ben Macpherson spoke of Leith and the royal yacht Britannia, which I visited a few weeks ago and thoroughly recommend.
To those contributions I add my own thoughts. The promotion of heritage tourism is not just a matter of visitor numbers. There are a host of benefits. There are jobs, indirect and direct, with local suppliers and artisans used to restore and maintain buildings and support provided for the development of craft skills, some of which are in danger of disappearing in Scotland. There is also work with academia and education to bring to life classroom theory with field studies and practical work, such as the excellent work that dig it! 2017 is doing.
Lewis Macdonald made an important point about the direct relationship between councils and support for culture. We on the Conservative benches hope that culture is not first on the list when councils propose and vote on cuts, so we will support his amendment.
When planning for future construction and development, we should always be mindful of preservation—looking to the future need not be a contradiction when preserving the past.
From the perspective of my portfolio, it is clear to me that we should use technology to promote Scotland. In the garden lobby a few weeks ago, I tried out the new virtual reality app, Scotland VR. It is a good start and I commend it. More than a million people use Samsung’s VR product every month, and tens of millions of people use the PlayStation VR product, so there are great opportunities for people to put on headsets and be transported from their homes to somewhere overseas—perhaps to Edinburgh castle, Burns’s house or the inside of this chamber.
Technology can also ensure that our national landmarks are preserved in a sustainable way. A good example is—excuse my pronunciation—Plas Newydd in Wales, which has swapped fuel oil for sea energy. The mansion is powered by sea energy from the Menai Strait and is home to the biggest marine-source heat pump in the UK. Marine-source heat provides 100 per cent of the heating that the house needs, thereby saving around £40,000 a year in operating costs. That is money that can be reinvested in the conservation of the house and its art collection. It is a fine example of what can be achieved if we take a cross-sector approach to conservation.
Our amendment simply asks the Government to keep a watchful eye on the resources and funding that are required to maintain the high standards of history and heritage tourism to which we have become accustomed in Scotland. For that reason, we ask members to support our amendment; we will support the Labour amendment.16:51
What a fascinating, informative and impassioned debate we have had. I think that the only sourness came from—this is no surprise—Neil Findlay, who made sweeping generalisations and unresearched assertions. In comparison, Jamie Greene spoke knowledgeably about skills, jobs and the use and impact of technology. Such knowledge and passion have been important in the debate, in which members talked about the challenges and what we can and should do. I point out to Jamie Greene that I have been supporting research into a heat pump for Linlithgow loch that would provide heat for the area and Linlithgow palace.
The themed years are, in essence, a tourism opportunity that brings together different agencies, as Alexander Stewart said. We are seeing the benefits of such work. It is creating a sense of place for our villages, towns and cities. It is generating employment and training, and it is the inspiration for learning and education.
However, the approach needs careful stewardship. I agree that we should always seek to provide sufficient—I think that the amendments use the word “adequate”—resources for culture and heritage. That has been a priority for me for some time, in the context of the culture portfolio. I pointed out earlier that VisitScotland’s budget for the next financial year will be maintained at £43.9 million, if the budget is approved. Although there are challenges in that regard, the news has been well received by the tourism sector.
I remind Lewis Macdonald of the increase in Historic Environment Scotland’s capital budget, to enable the agency to address the conservation works that were identified in the conditions survey that I instructed. Although the additional £6.6 million is a start that will go only some way towards doing what we have to do, it is a commitment, as is the overall increase for HES, if the budget is approved.
I acknowledge the point about the £6.6 million. Will the cabinet secretary acknowledge that although visitor attractions such as Edinburgh castle and Stirling castle will repay investment relatively quickly, there are issues for less well-known and well-visited places in the estate, which also require significant investment?
I think that that is the challenge. How do we ensure that the visitors who come to Edinburgh, in particular, over the year enjoy all the stories and all the places that we have heard about? It is important that we spread the visitor experience and income.
We must recognise that there are specific challenges. What has been great about the debate is that members have not only talked with passion and enthusiasm about what their constituencies have to offer but raised issues that need to be addressed. For example, Liam McArthur talked about Maeshowe—I take a keen interest in Maeshowe and the visitor centre there—and a number of members, including Lewis Macdonald, talked about archaeology. Clare Adamson talked about what was revealed as a result of archaeological work in the context of the M74.
Colin Beattie made a thoughtful speech. His quote about history being something that is never over was very apt. He also reminded us of the context when he started the theme, which ran throughout the debate, of the importance of intangible heritage and people’s stories. He talked about the Musselburgh ridings and the Dalkeith country park.
Alison Harris made an excellent speech in which she talked about Falkirk. We know much about Glasgow, shipbuilding and the industrialisation of our country, but the story of central-belt Scotland, including its contribution to that industrialisation, and the stories of individuals must be told. I point out that, although Blackness castle is in Falkirk district, it was always the port for Linlithgow, which is in my constituency.
That brings me to a point that was made by a number of members, which is that the issue is about not just visitor attractions but helping communities to find out more about their own areas. That is particularly important in schools.
Does the cabinet secretary appreciate the genuine concern among members on both sides of the chamber that the potential cuts to local government may have a knock-on effect on culture, which is perhaps not as high up the list of priorities as other public services? That is a genuine concern among members.
We will leave the budget debate for another day. Jamie Greene cannot call for more money without saying where that money will come from. The signature event money is designed to help local communities to run events, and those events are run, by and large, with local authorities. That is one of the reasons why I have brought together culture conveners from across local authorities to share best practice. There is real merit in helping them to share their experience of events, as some local authorities are better than others at running them.
Will the cabinet secretary take an intervention?
No. I think that we have heard enough from Mr Findlay in the debate.
You have still got five minutes.
I am sorry, Mr Findlay, but I want to address the speeches of other members who made more constructive contributions to the debate.
Mr Findlay’s colleague Elaine Smith talked about the Costa Coatbridge. She also talked about the importance of telling the stories of women and about Janet Hamilton’s “Poems and Ballads”.
Clare Adamson was right to name-check Professor Tom Devine, who was the lecturer who taught me about economic history.
The story of people and place is the strongest. Not everything is done by national organisations or national public bodies, as was acknowledged in Liam McArthur’s tribute to the Sanday Development Trust and Oliver Mundell’s tribute to some of the local activity around the devil’s porridge museum—which, again, is a story about women’s contribution to Scotland’s history through their work at the munitions factory in Gretna.
I did not know that there had been a tsunami in Stirling that brought whale bones up to the carse, but I do now. Bruce Crawford also made the economic point that the result of our themed years is that we get economic benefit. For example, in the year of food and drink £1 billion was spent by tourists, which shows the economic benefit of promoting themed sectors.
A number of members mentioned virtual reality. The issue is how we can ensure that our fantastic heritage is broadcast and that people are encouraged to take part in a modern way.
I was a bit worried that we had forgotten about the Picts until Gillian Martin gave her speech. She also reiterated that this is about stories, and we need to tell those stories in all their different iterations—particularly the industrial stories. Maurice Corry mentioned the textile industry in Paisley. Such things are part of the fabric of Scotland, and we are the better for them.
The National Trust for Scotland, local community development trusts and local family history resources—which we heard about from Stewart Stevenson—all have a part to play in the story of Scotland. However, 200,000 people are employed in tourism, and our history, heritage and archaeology underpin all of that. We must develop the skills that are needed to exploit those things and ensure that they are promoted.
Every member who has spoken in the chamber tonight has talked about Scotland’s spirit, and VisitScotland’s spirit of Scotland campaign will want to capture everybody’s authentic experience of their local place. I encourage every member who has taken part in the debate today to ensure that they record their message about their constituency to help that authentic promotion of Scotland.
PreviousBailey Gwynne (Independent Review)