Why it's the right time to invest in Scotland's treasured castles and historic buildings

Sometimes you just don't know what you’ve got until it’s gone.

As a relative newcomer to Scotland who has chosen for his family to make their home here, I still remain somewhat in awe of the country’s built heritage, its traditions and the history that binds people together.

But I also increasingly wonder whether Scotland’s heritage – the attraction that pulls millions of visitors here from around the world every single year – is being taken for granted.

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Take the battle for survival of some of Scotland’s most treasured buildings as an example.

Linlithgow Palace
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I have lived in the shadow of Aberdour Castle and used to love taking visitors for walks around the property’s beautiful grounds.

And last month I finally made a trip to Linlithgow Palace for the first time and, alongside my daughter, admired the statue of Mary, Queen of Scots erected close to the grand keep.

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Sadly, both of these historic buildings are closed to public access.

They are among a lengthy list of properties shut while Historic Environment Scotland (HES) carry out a series of assessments for high level masonry problems.

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Pic lisa ferguson 14/11/2017 Dale Miller

HES has said in a statement it is “continuing to open up seasonal sites on a rolling basis across the summer”.

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But with the body’s budget having been slashed from £61 million this financial year to £48m in 2026/27, the heritage organisation will face increasingly tough decisions on what projects to prioritise and which to postpone.

An announcement on the full reopening of Doune Castle in Perthshire on Monday was incredibly welcome. But it begs the question of just how long other sites will remain closed off.

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In the spirit of wanting to make a small difference, my wife and I recently became HES members for the first time.

We may be living through the war in Ukraine, a cost-of-living crisis and incredible pressures on the NHS system, but Scotland’s heritage remains vitally important.

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And if living through Covid has taught me anything, it’s not to take anything for granted.

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