Beltane Public Engagement Network

Summary | Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology Beltane Breakfast

Dark haired man in pink T shirt with the words Dig It! on

Jeff Sanders modelling the excellent Dig It! 2017 T shirt

We were up bright and early this Monday morning for our Beltane Breakfast on the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017!

Edinburgh Napier University was kind enough to host it in its Chapel at the Craiglockhart Campus (thank you especially to Dawn Smith and Elaine Lambie). If you ever get a chance, I recommend checking out both the Chapel and the nearby permanent War Poets exhibition.

Our invited guests were Jeff Sanders from Dig It! 2017, and Susan Morrison of Previously… Scotland’s History Festival. The purpose was to find out about opportunities to get involved with what Jeff and Susan had for the year, to share what the rest of us were doing and to learn from things which had already happened.

Here are the key points I picked up from our invited presenters:

  • Check out the Dig It! 2017 website.
  • Archaeology is very gender-balanced, and gets people exploring outdoors. It is great for reaching new audiences in that everywhere, however pedestrian or urban now, will have some archaeological significance.
  • Dig It! 2017 is trying to reach new audiences through co-design, meeting people half-way (e.g. venue choice) and finding niche audiences. Attempts haven’t always been successful but all of it has been useful. Co-design has been especially challenging but worth it.
  • The Scottish heritage sector will be Outlander-mad from June 2017, and Dig It! has been capitalising on this.
  • Minecraft has been really successful for Dig It! in engaging  new audiences.
  • Dig It! has an advisory panel made up of harder-to-reach audiences or people trying to work with them. This has been useful.
  • Scotland’s History Festival runs 17-26th November in 2017. The HQ will be the City of Edinburgh Methodist Church.
  • The History Festival has an Edinburgh focus at present.
  • The call to get involved in the Festival is about to go live. Fees vary depending on your organisation. If you develop an event in partnership with the Festival, there may not be a fee.
  • The Festival is based on Scotland, but is interested in history from all over the world as long as there is some Scottish link – it is not limited to ‘Scottish history’. Recent history is included.

And from our other participants, I learned about:

  • Just how much stuff is in our archives, and how much controversy there is about what can be reasonably thrown away so the rest can then be organised.
  • Displaying archival materials as part of a festival is hard due to the great care needed when looking after the materials. Overhead projection of scanned copies is an option, as is facsimiles.
  • Some fantastic engagement projects have been done with red phone boxes!
  • Scotland has 6 UNESCO World Heritage sites, and Dig It’s has yarn-bombed New Lanark.


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The Beltane Public Engagement Network
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