Student placement creates new Scottish heritage database

In this short blog, hear from our student placement Mike about his recent work to map heritage groups across Scotland.


Hi, my name’s Mike and I recently underwent a placement at the Scottish Civic Trust. I study Archaeology/Geography at the University of Glasgow, but my studies mostly focus on Geographical Information Systems (G.I.S.), which is a software that is mostly used to create maps but can do much more as well. I’m in my 4th year, graduating in the summer. I’m currently (early 2024) writing my dissertation on a G.I.S.-based analysis of the music/sound environments of Neolithic Stone Circles.

I’m from Cyprus, and I love to travel and understand more about how the world interacts with their heritage. This project stood out to me as it seemed to interlink a number of my passions; so naturally I didn’t hesitate to apply! My passion for the usages of G.I.S. software as well as archaeology and heritage must have come through in my application, and I was really pleased to get this opportunity.

What was this placement about?

The project was titled ‘Mapping Heritage Groups’. It involved the expansion of the Scottish Civic Trust’s databases of heritage or other community groups that operate in Scotland. This included but was not limited to local history groups, civic forums, community trusts and heritage societies. The Scottish Civic Trust was looking for someone to not only collate a database, but analyse it to see where gaps, trends and themes occur. This would allow them to have a strong idea of where they should focus more or less of their efforts on.

As a charity, this would prove invaluable – and indeed would form the basis of their strategy going forward, but also it would allow for a network, where heritage agents throughout Scotland can search and reach out for groups in one consolidated place.

Phases of work
  1. Data collection & collation: As I mentioned, the Scottish Civic Trust needed to find data on all the groups around Scotland. I collated these groups from various sources and ended up finding around 830 of them around Scotland, from every corner and what seemed like every town.
  2. Data manipulation: I then analysed these groups within the database against metrics of deprivation from the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation, and performed basic statistics against population per council area, and more. They were divided into group types, and my results showed that there were certain areas of Scotland without a local heritage group.
  3. Reflection & Presentation: I concluded my analysis by presenting my data in accessible and detailed formats, with a variety of maps and graphs created. This illustrated my work and enabled me to easily communicate the results to board members, other organisations and groups.
  4. Upskilling: I kept the Scottish Civic Trust in the loop for my whole project, whilst also creating instructive documentation to walk staff step-by-step through the process of utilising G.I.S. software in the future for searching, adding and furthering the map of groups.
My own opinions on this placement

I personally thoroughly enjoyed working with the Scottish Civic Trust. For starters, their welcoming and friendly nature as an organisation and as individuals made office life stress-free and a nice environment. The work they do is inspiring and fosters the kind of heritage community which I am keen on seeing in the world, which made my efforts much easier! My work itself was also a joy, and as my first solo project undertaken outside of university, I can say I really enjoyed having the responsibility and challenge of tackling this task.

Shadowing the Scottish Civic Trust and joining them on a few of their events was very interesting. I can say I got a glimpse of office life, which in this instance was simultaneously productive and relaxing. I feel I developed my skills in general task completion, being able to steadily work throughout my placement in a more relaxed way, rather than the university way of procrastinating until the deadline. I also refreshed my skills in multiple regression, QGIS, basic statistics and presenting which I believe are key for me moving forward!

Thanks for reading!

Access our map of local heritage groups across Scotland.