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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 30/11/2022

As part of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, we’re highlighting the many ways that Scotland’s tourism industry and other businesses have engaged with the Themed Year. 

In this case study, we take a look at some of the organisations who took the opportunity to use Year of Stories as a hook for their own campaign activity or to create new content.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) celebrated Scotland’s Year of Stories through a range of initiatives that showcased their sites and the stories behind them. HES created a dedicated landing page for their activity as well as a showcase video featuring staff members at some of their iconic venues. New content created included blogs and stories from staff and a new book called ‘Stirling Castle for Kids’ was produced. A competition called ‘If These Walls Could Talk’ encouraged young storytellers to write Scottish tales featuring historic sites, with prizes to be won and the stories showcased online. A touring exhibition, Unforgettable, started the year at Blackness Castle telling untold stories of 12 people from Scotland’s history and in November, an after-hours event ‘Tales from the Castle’ took place across two evenings.

Historic Environment Scotland - Year of Stories 2022

In September, Scottish Food & Drink Fortnight took inspiration from Year of Stories 2022 with its ‘Stories to Savour’ campaign. This meant showcasing some of Scotland’s most exciting products, innovative producers and regions and telling the stories of the country’s world-class food and drink industry. Organisers Scotland Food & Drink also used the #StoriesToSavour hashtag to encourage engagement and story sharing on social channels.

Dig It!, the hub for Scottish archaeology coordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, took the opportunity presented by the Themed Year to showcase some of the great stories to come out of archaeology. They created a dedicated web page to host Year of Stories blogs, which covered all sorts of subjects ranging from ‘Sword-wielding women and Scottish archaeology’ to ‘Seven times Scottish archaeology was written into books’. They also collaborated on the ‘Forgotten Stories’ project with the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland - a film and documentary series with additional blogs and articles that aims to bring the stories of near-forgotten archaeologists back to life.

In November 2022 it was announced that Stirling will become the first fully Augmented Reality (AR) city in the world following a ground-breaking project involving Stirling Council, BT and Seymour Powell. The cutting edge software will transform the visitor experience to Stirling allowing people to explore the city in a unique and exciting way through their smartphone screen. The new Stirling XP app will bring the city’s history and heritage to life and recognising the alignment with the Themed Year, Stirling Council highlighted Year of Stories 2022 on their website, encouraging people to “experience a whole new way of telling stories”.

The West Highland Way is another organisation who launched a new project in 2022 - People, Place & Passion: Gaelic Stories on the West Highland Way, supported by Bòrd na Gàidhlig. The online resource contains a wealth of information, including videos, history and poetry, as well as an insight into 96 Gaelic place names along the West Highland Way – one for each mile.

Hillwalkers on the West Highland Way look toward Buachaille Etive Mor
Hillwalkers on the West Highland Way look toward Buachaille Etive Mor
Image credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

Keep Scotland Beautiful have supported Themed Years in the past and 2022 was no exception. The Year of Stories was one of the categories for their popular annual Pocket Garden competition which invites young people from schools across Scotland to send in their designs for a colourful and exciting environmentally friendly, pocket-sized garden. Pupils who send in the winning designs are then invited to build and grow their gardens to display. Keep Scotland Beautiful also took Year of Stories as the theme for one of the online events in their Scotland’s Climate Festival National Events Series. The ‘Storytelling for Change’ event in March celebrated the Themed Year and took inspiration from the ‘Inspired by Nature’ programme strand.

The Year of Stories lent itself well to all sorts of creative promotions and storyteller Lynn Barbour of the Orkney Folklore and Storytelling Centre produced a series of podcasts and used the Year of Stories logo to help promote them. The Storytelling Landscape podcasts featured local Orcadian Islanders, sharing their social traditions, folklore, legends and work customs passed down from one generation to the next.

In support of Scotland’s Year of Stories 2022, Hostelling Scotland created a video inspired by the poignant and insightful diaries written by 17-year-old Mary Harvie, from Shotts, Lanarkshire, in the summer of 1936. The film, ‘What would Mary do?’, was produced with the Adventure Syndicate, a group of female adventurers who promote mental and physical wellbeing, and their 300 mile trip showcased Scotland’s remote landscapes and natural heritage. The film was promoted at in-person screenings, on social media and through widespread media coverage.

Hostelling Scotland - What would Mary do?

Women authors were the focus of activity by the National Records of Scotland (NRS) during the Themed Year. For example, in March NRS published an article on three Scottish authors, Annie Shepherd Swan, Josephine Tey and Dorothy Dunnett, to mark International Women’s Day and Women’s History month and also to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Stories. Linked to the article, NRS also published two new entries on the Hall of Fame for Susan Edmonstone Ferrier (1782-1854), novelist, and Nan Shepherd (1893-1981), author and college teacher. Alongside this activity, NRS made a successful submission to the Scottish Council on Archives ‘Twenty Treasures’ initiative, with ‘Scotland’s Stories’ as the theme for submissions. 

SLIC, the Scottish Library and Information Council, ran a wide range of initiatives  throughout the year and many individual libraries hosted their own events and projects. SLIC  ran the ‘Keep the Heid and Read!’ campaign, which asked people to pledge six minutes devoted to reading and included a book giveaway to celebrate Year of Stories. The campaign was a success, celebrating the power of reading, libraries and good mental health, and more than 470,000 minutes of reading were pledged by members of the public.

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE) used Year of Stories when planning their ReSourcE magazine for summer 2022, using the campaign logo on the publication and also linking to the Year of Stories landing page in the RSE President’s introduction column. They explained that the RSE’s Fellowship and the Young Academy of Scotland harbour a rich heritage of stories and a wide range of powerful methods of storytelling across countless disciplines, and the magazine offered a window into this resource, with features including Hebridean singer, Julie Fowlis, looking at how Gaelic is woven into the fabric of Scotland and James Robertson looking at the magical and unique mid-20th century home of Scottish poet, Hugh MacDiarmid. The RSE also signed up their August series of summer events – Curious 2022 – to the Year of Stories Partner Events Programme.

National Records of Scotland - New Register House, Edinburgh
National Records of Scotland - New Register House, Edinburgh
Image credit VisitScotland / Kenny Lam

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