UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage


Crowdsourcing Conservation with Historic Environment Scotland

20 July 2017

Together with the UCL Institute for Sustainable Heritage, Historic Environments Scotland has set up an innovative project.


The project aims to assess whether  use visitor photographs can be used to monitor the status of the many sites under their care. HES manages over 300 different sites all over Scotland, which range from fountains in the middle of highly populated cities to cairns in the depths of the highlands. Closely monitoring these sites is logistically very challenging, however, as many of the sites are popular tourist destinations, it would be interesting to use visitor photographs to accompany monitoring programs.

Research purpose

The purpose of this research is to establish whether images taken by visitors to heritage sites can be of a quality that is useful for heritage institutions. It will attempt to establish what analytical data can be collected by smartphone cameras. This will provide valuable insight into how long term conservation crowdsourcing of heritage sites can be developed. This is a very exciting project and one that is quite unique in the disciplines of Citizen Science and Heritage Science. It could and could lead to an innovative way for Historic Scotland to monitor their sites.

Details of the project

Two sites that have been set up for this experiment; the standing stone circles on Machrie Moor on the Isle of Arran, and the fountain at the front of Holyroodhouse Palace in Edinburgh. In both places, signs have been placed at strategic locations encouraging visitors to take photos and then tweet/email/Instagram them using the hashtag #monumentMonitor. The photos will be used to monitor the ground water levels at Machrie Moor, and biological growth on the fountain at Holyroodhouse.   

About Rosie Brigham

Rosie is a current MRes student studying Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA) at UCL. She graduated in 2013 with a History of Art and Material Studies degree and taught herself to program and became a web developer. Through this program she is combining her conservation and technical experience to create innovative solutions for the heritage sector.