Holding out for a HERO
Pictured accessing HERO on his mobile phone is Cllr Allan Henderson with (L to R) Ian Scrivener-Lindley from the Environmental Advice & Consultancy Team & Andrew Puls - Principal Officer, Building Conservation and Environment
For over thirty years, The Highland Council has collated information so that the historic environment can be carefully considered in development projects. This database has become known as the Highland Historic Environment Record (HER) and was placed online in 2010. Now, a new interactive and easier-to-use website has been launched
The Highland Historic Environment Record On-line (HERO) database contains information, photographs, illustrations and reports for over 50,000 of Highland’s archaeological sites, historic buildings, battlefields, designed landscapes and other sites of cultural importance now all freely available at the click of a mouse on the improved website mapping page. HERO is not only an invaluable research resource for communities, schools and developers but it also makes it possible for everyone to contribute directly so new information can be made available to all. This ensures that cherished sites or places can be protected, making the Highlands a better place to live and visit.
The HER has been instrumental in many recent discoveries. For example, information in the HER alerted the council to the possibility of exciting finds in advance to the recent water-pipe upgrading in Kingussie that led to Scottish Water identifying an early church. The internationally known and award-winning Achavanich Beaker Burial project which reconstructed ‘Ava’ from a Bronze Age burial in Caithness, grew from primary information held in the HER, the research results from which have just been published online.
HERO allows anyone to contribute directly to the record; this is a key component of the project and unique in Scotland. It recognises that communities and visitors not only consume the data, but can provide crucial information otherwise unavailable. It is mobile device friendly and can be accessed wherever a phone signal is available.
The project was the recipient of a 2018 Highland Council Quality Award in the category ‘Making the Highlands an Even Better Place to Live’.
Chair of The Highland Council’s Environment, Development and Infrastructure Committee Cllr Allan Henderson said: “The historic environment has much to offer communities in creating a sense of place, and particularly as a resource to encourage visitors and investment.
“HERO actively empowers local communities, including those remotely located, to take ownership and use their heritage as an asset. It will also be of use to developers and council services and provides an important resource for schools and universities. In this way, the council will aim to ensure the Highland’s unique history and culture can be protected, promoted and cared for into the future.”
HER Website address: https://her.highland.gov.uk/
Achavanich ‘Ava’ website address: https://achavanichbeakerburial.wordpress.com/
Achavanich publication web address: http://journals.socantscot.org/index.php/psas/article/view/10106