Director of Communications

About HES


Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is one of the most significant cultural organisations in Scotland. Like other organisations such as National Museums Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland it is established as a public body with a Board of Trustees appointed by Ministers. HES is also recognised by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) as a Scottish Charity, with the Board being the charity trustees. In common with other public bodies, it receives an annual letter of guidance from Ministers and has in place a Framework Document which provides details of its relationship with the Scottish Government. An unusual feature of HES’ governance is the Scheme of Delegation from Ministers which provides detail of how it must manage the Properties in Care and the associated collections. HES’ internal governance currently consists of a Board of 10 members, an Audit and Risk Assurance Committee and a Staffing Governance Committee of the Board. There is a clear Scheme of Internal Delegation, and HES also has a subsidiary trading company HES Enterprises Ltd (HESe) with the potential to grow in scale of operation.


HES is a major employer with over 1,200 permanent members of staff, located throughout Scotland. In addition it has around 200 seasonal staff and volunteers. Together they provide an exceptional range and depth of skills and expertise, including archaeologists, art historians, conservators and skilled craftspeople, from older disciplines such as stone masons and carpenters, to newer roles of environmental change specialists and digital champions.

The National Collections

At the core of HES' activities is a statutory role to investigate, care for and promote Scotland’s historic environment, and to manage the collections as a national resource for reference, study and research.

Under a “Scheme of Delegation“, HES manages the 335 “properties in care“– that is buildings and monuments of national significance - currently in the care of Scottish Ministers. These include iconic buildings and sites such as:

  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Skara Brae
  • Fort George
  • Melrose Abbey
With over 170,000 members, and managed sites currently attracting over 4 million visitors per year, HES is the largest operator of paid-for visitor attractions in Scotland, and a major contributor to Scotland’s economy. In addition HES is responsible for collections including 5 million drawings, photographs, negatives and manuscripts and over 20 million aerial images of locations around the world which are available for people to access. Some of the object collections are housed within the properties, but the vast majority are currently in premises in Edinburgh. A priority for HES is to address the question of where the collections should be located and how they should be made available to the public, both physically and digitally, in the context of the new organisation.

Financial Overview

The support of the Scottish Government and the arrangements in place, particularly in respect of the properties in care, are fundamental to the sustainability of the organisation.

Our challenges

The environment for HES, as for all publicly funded bodies, is challenging. Particular issues include:

  • Delivering on the new expectations as a lead body within the sector
  • Significant immediate and long term investment in organisational development to ensure staff have the necessary skills to meet new challenges and opportunities
  • The investment needed to maintain the portfolio of properties in care, including addressing a significant “conservation deficit“ built up over many years
  • The need to relocate and house the historic collections to modern standards and increase opportunities for public access both virtually and digitally
  • The commercial challenges of operating paid for visitor attractions to the expected modern standards

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) is also recognised by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) as a Scottish Charity, with the Board being the charity trustees. HES Scottish Charity No. SC04592