Community Volunteers Turn Urban Detectives!

5 October 2016

Ever wanted to know more about the place you live or work? Should more people hear about its unique story? Or are you (and others) striving to bring more people to visit that place?

1You could join thousands who are telling the missing stories of Scotland’s towns and cities.

Scotland’s Urban Past (SUP) aims to make the stories of these places more accessible via the web – and that’s how you can help. Recently we’ve met and talked with many from the Volunteer Scotland network. We’re so impressed with the potential for involving for community groups and volunteers with this process. The history of our urban communities needs to be told by people who live there or work there - not only by heritage specialists and academics, as it used to be. After all, you have firsthand experience, memories and an investment in the future of your place. 

Historic Environment Scotland collects, creates and cares for millions of photographs, maps, drawings and documents about buildings and landscapes. This national record reveals the ever-changing face of Scotland from prehistory to the present day. But there are gaps.

Urban Detectives are members of the public who contribute information, photographs and locations of places in Scotland’s towns and cities to our website. These contributions become part of Canmore, the nation’s online record of architecture, archaeology and industry.

Why would community members want to do this?

  • Learning the history of how people came to live in this place, altered its landscape and influenced change can be empowering and encouraging for us now
  • Understanding the way your town evolved and what resources it still has can give strength and insights for future community planning
  • It’s also a fun way of finding out about your local history
  • Sharing your findings on this permanent national record gives you a new voice and can influence the way your place is seen by others – from developers to planners to academics to potential new inhabitants and investors

Anyone can become an Urban Detective by registering on our website.

Once you’ve registered, you can:

  • DSC_0012add text, facts and comments to site records
  • add images, photographs and sketches to site records
  • suggest new sites
  • identify and classify site records by type

All contributions are added to the National Record of the Historic Environment under Creative Commons 4.0. This means that copyright remains with the creator and no one can use your contributions for commercial purposes without your permission. Anyone is able to share or adapt the image or information contributed to the archive, but must always give credit to the creator.

Register as an Urban Detective

Training for Urban Detectives

Our free resources and step-by-step guides help Urban Detectives learn how to investigate and record our urban heritage.

In addition, we run free face-to-face training workshops across the country, open to everyone. See our events listings for the next workshop near you: http://scotlandsurbanpast.org.uk/event

We support schools and youth groups with projects and workshops. We work with teachers and group leaders to further their continued professional development. 

Questions or comments? Ideas for a project? Explore our FAQs or contact us.

This post was submitted by Carol Stobie, Audience Development Officer and 
Fiona Watson, Learning Officer from Scotland's Urban Past

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