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Scotland’s coasts and waters have shaped our rich history and heritage. Several organisations made the most of this connection. Using the Themed Year, they engaged with their customers and stakeholders.

We spoke to Clare Willis, Marketing Manager at the National Trust for Scotland. She told us about the trust’s involvement with the Year of Coasts and Waters.

Why did you decide to get involved with Year of Coasts and Waters 20/21?

The National Trust for Scotland has been involved with every themed year to date.

Amongst others, we’ve celebrated Homecoming and Food & Drink. But we also did Innovation, Architecture & Design, Young People and this time Scotland's wonderful Coasts and Waters.

Each of the Themed Years gave us the opportunity to showcase the amazing places in our care and inspire people to visit them.

The trust's properties have always been keen to get involved and look to tie in their activities to the theme. This can range from delivering a new event, through to a themed guided tour of our collections.

In addition, the trust always seeks out any PR opportunities and create new compelling content that can be shared with their audience.

What are the main things you created around the Themed Year?

The trust was successful in their funding application for a flagship event Culzean by the Sea. The event was sadly postponed due to COVID-19, but it is rescheduled for summer 2021.

The trust looks forward to welcoming visitors to a new trail. This features specially commissioned wicker sculptures. Each one linking to Culzean’s coastal ties such as mermaids from the days of piracy.

The Coasts & Waters subject has been woven into the communications and literature throughout the year. The trust also featured beautiful watery images on our member guidebook and digital channels.

It furthermore commissioned new content for their website, social media, and member magazine. This highlights the people, places, wildlife, and collections in the trust's care that fit within the theme.

Culzean Castle

What success stories did you experience with your Themed Years activity?

The Year of History, Heritage & Archaeology was a stand-out year for the trust as it was able to link so many of our stories, people and places to the theme.

The trust worked with the National Museums, Historic Environment Scotland and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Together, they delivered a national campaign telling the story of the Jacobites. This resulted in a national trail to encourage people to visit 26 of the most famous Jacobite sites across Scotland.

The campaign exceeded all targets. It won numerous marketing and tourism awards and left the trust with a legacy of engaging content that is still in use today.

Were there any unexpected outcomes?

A key element of our Culzean by the Sea event was to deliver some school’s workshops led by the artist who was commissioned to create the sculptures.

COVID-19 meant that this couldn’t happen. But the trust embraced the "new normal".

So, the artist will now deliver a virtual workshop via Zoom in which the children can still get involved and be inspired to create their own artwork.

What do you have planned for 2021?

The trust was delighted when VisitScotland confirmed it planned to roll the Year of Coasts & Waters into 2021. This meant the trust could continue to use the theme to showcase their work and places.

Alongside our flagship event, we will have even more exciting new content to inspire people to visit and discover more about our places.

Beyond that, the trust is excited to look ahead to the Year of Scotland’s Stories in 2022. It will, no doubt, relish the opportunity to share some of the wonderful stories relating to the places in its care.

St Kilda

Other heritage organisations who pro-actively engaged with the year

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Dig It! highlighted archaeological activities with a strong connection to coasts and waters.

These included an X-Class midget submarine at Aberlady, and a submerged prehistoric forest at Benbecula . Other online content brought shipwrecks, castles and crannogs to life.

The Society promoted initiatives such as a virtual tour created by the Wemyss Caves Group.

Museums and galleries

Many of Scotland’s museums chose to get involved with the Themed Year. They used the opportunity to highlight their collections and programming in a new way.

Museums Galleries Scotland supported museums to participate as part of a number of their funding streams. COVID-19 meant that some plans for events and exhibitions were postponed.

Others were able to take place, such as the Scottish Fisheries Museum’s Sea Change exhibition.

Originally intended to be enjoyed at the museum, the team worked hard to recreate the content in a digital format. From home, audiences could explore what the seas, and the fishing industry, will be like 50 years from now.

For 2020, Scotland’s annual Go Industrial Day went digital with a Year of Coasts and Waters theme. It had live streams and social posts from the RRS Discovery, Scottish Fisheries Museum and Scottish Maritime Museum.

Armadale Museum on the Isle of Skye celebrated Scotland’s Year of Coasts and Waters 2020 with the "Coastal Castles of Clan Donald" exhibition.

It used prints, drawings, maps, photography and film from the museum archive. The exhibition explored castles along Scotland’s Western Seaboard associated with Clan Donald.

Historic Environment Scotland

Historic Environment Scotland used the Themed Year to inspire people to explore their historic sites.

Many of their sites are framed by lochs, rivers and the sea. These range from Tantallon Castle in East Lothian to the UNESCO World Heritage sites on the islands of Orkney

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