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PAS was commissioned by Historic Environment Scotland to engage young people in Kirkwall in their local heritage. The aim was to garner young people’s views on what they understood heritage to be, what local heritage was important to them and to produce a set of criteria they could use to identify sites they would want to protect. This work built on a previous charrette, Your Kirkwall, which gathered community views on the redevelopment of Kirkwall.

Historic Environment Scotland is the lead public body established to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment. It is responsible for more than 300 properties of national importance, such as Edinburgh Castle and Skara Brae. It is also responsible for internationally significant collections of photos, drawings and manuscripts.

The project was led by David Ferguson (PAS Youth Programmes Officer) and Erin Fulton (PAS Volunteers & Interns Manager), with support from Dr Alison McCandlish (PAS volunteer with heritage expertise). Liaising with HES, they developed a set of fun, engaging workshops to involve a mix of young people from Kirkwall in discussions around heritage.

The young people discussed what heritage they would take to Mars, to remind them of their culture and traditions. They also produced a set of ‘Key Questions’ to evaluate what heritage in their area they felt was important. With these questions, they produced a list of local sites which were important to them and their community. These included: the Big Tree, a famous Kirkwall landmark; Tankerness gardens, a memorial garden; and the camps for the Uppies and the Doonies.

At the next workshop, the young people pared this list down. Their goal was to identify the 5 most important sites to them. They were then able to work with representatives from HES to discuss possible protections that could be afforded to the sites. The top 5 were: site of the former Wise Buys buildings, the Peedie Sea, the plays at the Bishop’s and Earl’s palaces, the Big Tree, and Tankerness Gardens.

The young people were very positive about the workshops and provided HES with some very interesting insights into their conception of heritage. They felt that the story or context of a site was important.  They also rated the value to the community of a heritage site as being extremely important.

For further information on this project, please contact David Ferguson: davidf@pas.org.uk