New national heritage body for Scotland granted charitable status

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The new national heritage body for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has received charitable status from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).

The move marks another important milestone in the establishment of the new organisation, which will legally be known as Historic Environment Scotland (HES) and takes up full operational powers on October 1st, following the merging of Historic Scotland and The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) into a new public body.

As a new Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) with charitable status, HES will operate with a degree of independence while still being accountable to Scottish Ministers and Parliament when it officially starts work from the 1st of October. The move brings the new body closer in line with other national cultural bodies including the National Library of Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, The National Museum of Scotland and the Royal Botanic Gardens of Edinburgh. HES Chair, Jane Ryder has now written to the Convenor of the Scottish Parliament’s Education and Culture Committee, MSP Stewart Maxwell, informing him of the new body’s successful application to become a charity.


The functions of HES, as set out in the 2014 Historic Environment Scotland Act, support the advancement of education and the arts, heritage and culture and environmental protection or improvement, and were accepted by OSCR as the charitable purposes of the new body. The existing Historic Scotland Foundation (HSF) – set up in 2001 to accept donations, gifts and legacies for the work of Historic Scotland or any successor body – will remain a separate charity.

As the new body moves towards starting work in October, it has also recently appointed its first Chief Executive, David Middleton, who will take up his post in November, while work continues to develop the new organisation’s first Corporate Plan.

Commenting on the granting of charitable status, Jane Ryder, OBE, Chair of HES, said: “Becoming a charity affirms our core purpose and is a status that carries great responsibility. The Board is delighted our application to OSCR has been successful and that we now have charitable status. This is another key milestone as we approach 1st October when we take on our full statutory responsibilities.

“While becoming a charity enables us to contribute to the wider good of Scotland more strategically, it also provides greater opportunities to develop our new organisation overall and its varied operations in future. Such status will also hopefully provide greater opportunities for the sector and assist us in performing our role as a key player in helping to deliver Scotland’s first strategy for the Historic Environment, “Our Place in Time.”

Historic Scotland and RCAHMS come together to form a new public body for the historic environment with effect from 1st October 2015. The new body, which will legally be known as Historic Environment Scotland (HES) will deliver Scotland’s first strategy for the historic environment, Our Place in Time.

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