The remains of settlements and landscapes of the medieval and later periods form a key part of Scotland’s rural heritage. They represent a major national asset and reflect a crucial period of Scottish history. Scotland’s Rural Past aimed to raise the awareness of this fascinating resource by encouraging local communities throughout Scotland to discover more about their local heritage and help protect it for the future. Survey and recording of abandoned settlements and farmsteads, along with research of written records and place-names helped to link local people to their landscape and their past.
Under the aegis of this project, volunteers were given the opportunity to learn new skills with which to explore historic rural settlements and this enabled local people of all age groups to become more aware of their historic environment and its relevance to Scottish history.
Under this five-year Scotland-wide project, forty local projects were set up, most of which involved archaeological fieldwork to identify and record rural settlement remains. Within each project there was scope for developing other activities in partnership with local people. For example, these included researching aspects of local sites through documents, or organising the collection, copying and identification of old photographs of rural settlements. Other opportunities for involvement developed throughout the five-year life-span of SRP and full training, support and encouragement were offered to interested local groups and individuals.
The project was developed through the Historic Rural Settlement Trust with the support of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS), Historic Scotland (HS), the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), the National Museum of Rural Life (formerly Museum of Scottish Country Life), the Association of Regional and Island Archaeologists, and Archaeology Scotland. RCAHMS were the lead body in a successful application to the Heritage Lottery Fund. Major funding support has also been given by HS, NTS and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.