Heritage is Everyone's Business

Place is an occupied space. Those currently occupying the place inherit that which is passed on - it's heritage. They are guardians of the place. However, what goes on in the place?  The 'quick buck', selling anything and everything, or a concern to pass on to the next generation something that has meaning and significance.

This is a study that started in late 2012 with a project that examines cultural heritage and 'place-making', with a focus upon the Edinburgh World Heritage site, including the Royal Mile. Together with Dr Tawny Paul [University of Edinburgh, School of History, Classics & Archaeology], we have examined different perceptions of what makes a place and what makes it authentic. The project has taken into account the perspectives of tourists, cultural institutions and business interests.
An understanding of authenticity is important:  'authentic experiences' are a core element of the 2012 Scottish National Tourism Strategy launched by the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA). However, what are the implications for those providing the experience? The STA provides an insight with the statement from their key messages – drawing attention to that which can only be Scotland:  
... Not just shortbread with the coffee break , but offering a taste of Scotland’s culture and history, our built heritage, our nature and activities, events, food and drink, Scottish ancestry during their stay.

The view of authenticity that is being developed is rooted in a related study which started in early 2011 with Dr Dahlia El-Manstrly [University of Edinburgh, School of Business]. Authenticity is defined and summarised in the following figure, this being explained, using the Royal Mile as a case-study, in the August 2012 paper detailed below:

This paper was presented at NA:WH [0729] [12-15th March 2013]

There is no right or wrong view about the manner in which the Royal Mile develops. Instead, it is more a question of where its guardians wish the Royal Mile to be positioned in the spectrum of different and perhaps conflicting views. It can be a living street shared by the local community with those that work there yet live elsewhere, as well as those that visit - the tourist. It can be a museum, preserved in time. It can be a street market which trades its wares for the 'quick buck'. It 'is' whatever its guardians make it - for today as well as for the future. However, who are its guardians?

This research has been acknowledged by The Cockburn Association: Euan Leitch: Royal Mile shouldn’t just be for tourists, 27th Feb. 2013. More recently Planning Democracy, drawing upon this research, highlighted the importance of the 'local business' in contrast to the 'foreign investor' for local economic development: Economic Benefit? Maybe, but Where, and for Whom? A Closer Look at Edinburgh City Center’s Hotel Boom, 31st March 2014.

The third annual audit of the Royal Mile was conducted in July 2013 and is available online. The fourth annual audit was conducted in July 2014, and will be available at the earliest opportunity. The fifth audit was conducted in July 2015 and will also be available at the earliest opportunity. 

Further research has been conducted involving the reconstruction of the Royal Mile for 1774, 1814, 1864, 1914 and 1964.  The aim is to provide this material in a digital animated form, supported by a historical narrative.  A preliminary glimpse into the data for 1774 is to be found linlere

An interesting commentary: THE CIVIC USE OF HERITAGE ASSETS, 1st Dec. 2015 link 

- Cashmere shops 'make Mile bland', GLASGOW HERALD, 21st Aug, 2013
- ‘Bland’ Royal Mile full of cashmere shop clones, EDINBURGH EVENING NEWS, 20th Aug, 2013

- The Uses and Abuses of Heritage: Past and Place-Making in Scotland. WORKSHOP: Friday, 21st June 2013. 
- UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH NA:WH [0728] Collaborative Project: University of Edinburgh 12-15th March 2013.  


Aug, 2013       An Audit of a UNESCO World Heritage site – the Royal Mile, Edinburgh: a preliminary search for authenticity - Two years later. Business School, University of Edinburgh. Working Paper, Series: 13.01, Business School, University of Edinburgh [ISBN: 978-1-906816-09-4]
Aug, 2012       ‘Authenticity’: a familiar word but what are the implications for a destination if it is a popular tourism destination as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site? Co-authored with Dahlia El-Manstrly. WorkingPaper, Series: 12.04, Business School, University of Edinburgh [ISBN: 978-1-906816-07-0].
Jul, 2012         An Audit of a UNESCO World Heritage site – the Royal Mile, Edinburgh: a preliminary search for authenticity - One year later. Co-authored with Dahlia El-Manstrly, Business School, University of Edinburgh. Working Paper, Series: 12.03, Business School, University of Edinburgh [ISBN: 978-1-906816-06-3]
May, 2012       An Audit of a UNESCO World Heritage site – the Royal Mile, Edinburgh: a preliminary search for authenticity. Co-authored with Dahlia El-Manstrly. Working Paper, Series: 12.02, Business School, University of Edinburgh [ISBN: 978-1-906816-18-6].


An interesting view of what 'is' Scotland is presented in the film 'We Are Northern Lights'. Clips are to be found at the Northern Lights site.

   CASHMERE:   Scottish Cashmere Club link,  Hawick Cashmere of Scotland link, Lyle & Scott link
   TARTAN: The Scottish Register of Tartans link, Scottish Tartans Authority link

This page will be updated.