Trust at work

Anyone who’s done a bit of home improvement knows that even new buildings can be difficult to maintain. Our Buildings Team have to juggle all manner of practical and logistical challenges - from battling the elements to supporting essential skills​ - to make sure Scotland’s historic buildings stay standing.


Sometimes we want to preserve a property because of its significant age or design, sometimes for its cultural value, and sometimes for the simple fact that it pleases the eye. Through projects like the Annual Repair Grant (in partnership with Historic Environment Scotland) and the Little Houses Improvement Scheme, we’re able to look ahead and properly maintain our properties, no matter how big or small. In some cases we’re even able to equip properties for modern living, giving them a new lease of life.

Buildings that aren’t properly maintained require far more money and time spent repairing them down the line. That’s why we focus on research and surveying, on sharing knowledge between professionals and local craftspeople, and on improving estates so that they’re able to maintain buildings steadily throughout the year.

Conservation of the stone at Falkland Palace.
Conserving the Falkland Palace Roundels.

Supporting traditional skills

To make sure Scotland’s heritage is in safe hands, we like to support traditional building skills and crafts – everything from thatching to plasterwork. Whether at a stately home or a remote cottage, some of the finest examples of traditional craftsmanship can be found in the Trust’s places.

At every possible opportunity we’ll employ local craftspeople. At Culzean Castle we directly employ a team of stonemasons, who also spend their time helping to educate the public and sharing their knowledge. 

We support apprenticeships, to encourage young people to learn traditional skills. And we get behind the work of places like The Engine Shed in Stirling – it promotes traditional materials and skills, and is a hub for anyone working in building and conservation.

A stonemason shows a young boy how to chisel stone.
We encourage young people to learn traditional skills.

Protecting the environment

It’s no surprise that we use sustainable design when we build new places, such as the visitor centres at Culloden and Glencoe. However, the greenest buildings are often the ones that are already built, and so we take on the unenviable task of trying to reduce the energy we use at our existing buildings. Castles and country homes don’t offer much scope for energy-saving measures, but making even a small difference in all of our buildings can lead to a big difference overall.

Glencoe Visitor Centre
Glencoe Visitor Centre

Engaging visitors

More than 1 million people visit our historic buildings every year, and we do everything we can to entertain and educate them, with a variety of learning and out-reach schemes. These include behind-the-scenes visits at Haddo House, scaffold visits at Glenfinnan Monument and schools events at Culzean Castle.

Pupils learning about buildings conservation work.
A school event at Culzean Castle.

Our impact

The Trust’s Buildings Team is having a tremendous effect on the conservation and awareness of our historic buildings. In a recent review we found that, in the space of just two years, we’d managed to repoint 3,500 square metres of wall, paint 978 windows, inspect and maintain 487 roofs, and clean 10km of gutters. In the same period we also managed to support 83 apprenticeships, support 700 jobs and use local materials in 63% of our projects.

Craigievar Castle covered on scaffolding.
Conservation work going on at Craigievar Castle