Public pasts

Making a difference content Two people up ladders on a thatched roof

Making a difference

Since our conception in 2005 the Centre for History has worked collaboratively with community and heritage groups on many innovative public history research projects. Our vision is of individual and societal transformation through historical research, encouraging communities to assert agency by exploring their perceptions of the past. It’s a ‘heritage from below’ approach, developed by Dr Iain Robertson, which we believe helps create powerful social, economic and cultural change.

Bringing people together content A group of people listening to one person talk

Bringing people together

Our PhD students work with heritage bodies and the public, learning from and with them. Dr Jim MacPherson connected Highland Folk Museum, Historic Environment Scotland and research student, Maureen Shaw, in a pioneering research project to grow and process flax using eighteenth-century methods. HES technicians re-created traditional paint from the linseed oil harvest and the museum shared insights with the public in Our Linen Stories. By collaborating with High Life Highland on this and other projects, we have changed the way the organisation sees itself.

Reinterpreting history content A group of people listening to one person talk

Reinterpreting history

From blogs to apps, we engage creatively online. Dr Lucy Dean reinterprets Scotland’s pre-modern royalty with, and for, the public. She collaborated with the Royal Collections Trust on interactive audio-visual guides for Holyrood Palace and developed research for Historic Environment Scotland’s re-interpretation of Edinburgh Castle. In the Perth Charterhouse Project, she is helping refocus public attention on the medieval royal burgh of Perth, creating conversations with local museums and communities through blogs, workshops and events.

Shaping regional understanding content Inverness castle

Shaping regional understanding

Professor David Worthington is working with a team of academics, architects and public agencies on a multi-million-pound project to transform Inverness Castle into a leading cultural and economic resource for the people of the Highlands and Islands. It’s a huge public history programme with the community at its heart. You can read more about our involvement in ‘the Spirit of the Highlands’.

Be part of our story content An audience taking notes

Be part of our story

We don’t just research public history – we teach it too.  Our undergraduate public history module features guest lecturers from museums, archives and libraries, inspiring students to think innovatively about heritage. If you’re interested in this subject, why not join the conversation by commenting on our blogs or telling us what you think in this online questionnaire – we’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can also follow our story on social media and explore our other research areas in Public Histories, Material Cultures and Heritage.