Outer Hebrides make history

Models wearing face art depicting some of Scotland's world heritage sites. Picture by VisitScotland.

Models wearing face art depicting some of Scotland's world heritage sites. Picture by VisitScotland.

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A live archaeological dig of St Kilda in Minecraft and a celebration of the rich cultural links between India and Scotland in Stornoway will put the Outer Hebrides centre stage in a unique line-up of events set to make history in 2017.

Purvai in the Outer Herbrides is one of nine events supported by a £300,000 Signature Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology Events Fund, with more to be revealed in the coming weeks.

The unique event in Stornoway, which takes place August, will celebrate the islands’ rich South Asian history with music and art collaboration, exhibitions and performances.

In addition, as part of Scotland in Six (18 April) – another signature event celebrating Scotland’s six World Heritage Sites – participants will build, excavate and explore the captivating archipelago of St Kilda through the popular Minecraft video game.

With over one third of visitors drawn to Scotland for its history and culture, VisitScotland has hailed the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology as an exciting opportunity to relive Scotland’s fascinating past through a range of events and activities.

Launched by Cabinet Secretary, Fiona Hyslop the year will inspire visitors to #facethepast, in new and innovative ways.

The year also provides the opportunity to promote and celebrate a much wider programme of events celebrating Scotland’s history, heritage and archaeology.

Partner events within the year include Scot:Lands, which kicks off the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology celebrations on 1 January with an adventurous journey across Edinburgh’s Old Town, closely followed by Celtic Connections (19 Jan – 5 Feb) - the UK’s premier celebration of Celtic music.

And at the end of January, the national bard will come into focus with Robert Burns events celebrating the poet’s rich history.

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

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

“The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology will highlight and showcase our history and heritage to the world and I am very pleased to announce nine of the events being supported by the £300,000 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology Signature Events Fund.

“As well as our history of many well-known stories and famous, indeed some infamous, historical characters, next year will also give us an excellent opportunity to focus on Scotland’s world-renowned archaeology, enticing visitors and locals alike to visit not only our known iconic landmarks with their thousands of years of history, but also our many hidden gems.”

Alan MacKenzie, Island Manager at VisitScotland said: “Scotland is the land where great legends were made throughout history, and so it is only apt that the Outer Hebrides should feature in such a unique line-up of events and activities for the 2017 Year of History Heritage and Archaeology.

“From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends, the year-long programme will spotlight some of our greatest assets and icons as well as our hidden gems. We’re delighted St Kilda and Stornoway will feature as part of the year’s exciting programme of activity.

“We look forward to inviting visitors and locals alike to come face to face with the past in Outer Hebrides next year.”

The hashtag for the year is #HHA2017 and people are encouraged to share Scotland’s History, Heritage and Archaeology on social media by taking a selfie at historical attractions or hidden gems and using #facethepast.

As a main partner, the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting the year with a dedicated programme called Stories, Stones and Bones. The £1/2million fund will encourage people in communities across the country to uncover and celebrate their local history, customs and traditions.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the lead public body for Scotland’s historic environment, will also be carrying out research work, increasing its programme of living history events across the country from Duff House to Edinburgh Castle, and training Scotland’s young people in the provision of traditional skills that will help protect Scotland’s historic buildings now and for the future.

The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017 will begin on January 1 and end on December 31st 2017.