The History of Leith

May 11, 2005

Protecting Scotland’s carved stones

A strategy document providing guidance for the care and protection of carved stones has been unveiled by Tourism Minister Patricia Ferguson.

Carved stones provide a very real link to more than 5000 years of human activity in Scotland and are an important and significantly large proportion of the monuments and artefacts that survive from past times. Carved stones help to define the character of our environment and present-day identities, both local and national.

Emphasising the cultural importance of carved stones, Ms Ferguson said:

“Scotland’s rich and varied resource of carved stones is an important cultural asset; they are a tangible connection to a very human element of our past. Carved stones have enormous and largely untapped potential, particularly for sustainable tourism and educational initiatives, but they require active conservation.

“Effective protection of carved stones will continue to be achieved most effectively through better understanding of the issues involved and collective effort to address them. I hope that, with this policy and guidance, Historic Scotland and everyone else involved will be encouraged, and better placed, to identify priorities and implement strategies and action plans to respond to the needs of individual sites and categories of our important carved stones.”

Carved Stones: Scottish Executive Policy and Guidance, published by Historic Scotland, draws on 120 years of their and their predecessor bodies’ experience in dealing with carved stones, and was the subject of a three month consultation period early in 2004.

Carved stone is used as a generic term for what in Scotland can be broadly categorised under the headings of:

prehistoric rock carvings
Roman, early medieval, later medieval and post-reformation sculpture
architectural sculpture and fragments
The strategy document concentrates on carved stones that are still physically associated in some way with their place of manufacture or one of their stages of use, rather than carved stones that are now found as artefacts in off-site museums.

The strategic and operational policy, and guidance cover legal protection, raising awareness, conservation strategies and practice, including intervention, research and information, and Historic Scotland setting the example of best practice.

To help with the implementation and application of the policy and guidance contained in the document, Historic Scotland has produced an agenda, strategy and action plan for the conservation of general and specific categories of carved stone. Historic Scotland involved key stakeholders, including the National Committee on Carved Stones in Scotland, in the development of the agenda, strategy and action plan, which are available on the Agency’s web site.

Historic Scotland is an executive agency of the Scottish Executive charged with safeguarding the nation’s historic environment and is fully accountable to Scottish Ministers.

Over 330 scheduled ancient monuments are in the direct care of Scottish Ministers and conserved and protected on their behalf by Historic Scotland. These include very significant collections of sculpture of all periods and types, as well as individual monuments. An estimated 4000 to 5000 examples of portable carved stones of all periods are owned by and/or in the care of museums in Scotland. Such museums, most of which are administered by local authorities, play a significant part in caring for this important aspect of Scotland’s heritage. They also play an invaluable role in interpreting and raising awareness of the carved stones that are not housed in collections. A wide range of carved stones, of all periods and types, in private ownership is also scheduled or listed.

The type of legal protection that can be applied to a carved stone will depend not only on the significance of the carved stone but also on whether or not it is movable and where it is. Both the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 and Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 can be applied to the legal protection of carved stones.
Source-Scottish Executive

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