Case region: Scotland-Ireland

Education Material

Coastal Interpretation Webinar

Cultural heritage in scotland-ireland

There are strong ties between the Irish and Scottish coasts in terms of cultural heritage, including language, emigration and diaspora, tangible and intangible Celtic Christian and pre-Christian religious heritage, smallholder-crofting culture, inshore fisheries and industrial maritime heritage. The Scotland-Ireland demos focus on three locations – Belfast Port, The Inner Hebrides and Galway Bay. Belfast port has a rich industrial heritage. At its peak, Belfast’s famous Harland & Wolff shipyard employed 30,000 people and built illustrious liners, including the Titanic. The site’s architectural heritage assets include the iconic Samson and Goliath cranes, dry-docks, slipways and pump house. As shipping declined, a new waterfront property project, Titanic Quarter, regenerated the site as a mixed-use development with offices, apartments, a science park, film production, hotels and a museum. There are concerns, however, about the effects of the property development project and how both the industrial archaeology of the site and worker stories are being marginalised in the development. The Inner Hebrides include 35 inhabited and 44 uninhabited islands. Heritage activities are still part of everyday life on the islands today, including inshore fishing, seaweed harvesting, crofting and quarries. The Inner Hebrides also have a rich historical past with designations for castles, battlefields, monuments, landscapes, buildings, and a large number of wrecks including a historical marine protected area for the wreck of a 17th century warship. The islands have had varying degrees of success at economic diversification through tourism. While some, such as Rum, currently have too limited an infrastructure, Eigg, conversely, has attracted a wide range of 'lifestyle' micro-businesses, from weaving and a micro-brewery to sailing and wildlife-watching guides, and is proactively targeting the tourism market. Galway Bay is the largest bay on the west coast of Ireland and has a rich array of cultural heritage opportunities, including the Irish language, traditional boat building, landscapes, archaeological sites and island culture. Galway Bay has become a site of conflict in relation to Blue Growth and cultural heritage. Proposals for aquaculture and offshore renewable energy expansion have been resisted by local communities, citing, amongst other things, the potential loss of the bay's unique seascapes. The bay also forms part of Ireland's Wild Atlantic Way, a popular tourism trail, that has intensified tourism in the area and ascribed value to particular seascapes. There is an inherent tension, therefore, between the Blue Growth objectives and the designation of the bay as a significant seascape.

Infographic on results from SI 3 demo on seafood, by Emma Chiaroni

Instagram-@emmachiaroni Twitter-@EmmaChiaroni


SI.1 Integrating CH into coastal and maritime spatial planning  

SI.2 Exploring maritime industrial Heritage (Belfast)  

SI.3 Cultural heritage of inshore fisheries (west coast of Scotland)

SI.4 Blue-growth and heritage interactions (Small Isles Scotland)

What we do

This large-scale case region seeks to understand, preserve and harness cultural heritage across the Atlantic seaboard and inner seas of the west coasts of Scotland and Ireland and the coast of Northern Ireland.

Much of the region is rural and faces demographic challenges in terms of a decreasing and aging population and youth outmigration. This generates a vicious cycle of a declining base for services and economic activity, particularly when faced with declining government budgets under austerity policies.

The Scottish demos will explore how traditional sectors such as crofting and fisheries can adapt, and how opportunities for blue growth based on cultural heritage, such as through tourism, gastronomy and creative industries, can help to tackle these challenges.  The potential for blue growth developments such as marine renewable energy and aquaculture to pose both risks to cultural heritage but also potentially generate new cultural heritage is also examined.

We will undertake a region-wide demo focused on integrating cultural heritage into marine and coastal spatial planning.  This will involve consideration of common regional policy challenges that are likely to have significant implications for cultural heritage, such as the proposed Scottish Islands Bill, cross-boundary marine and coastal planning and post-Brexit fisheries policy.

We will also investigate how urban industrial cultural heritage – such as shipbuilding – can provide a platform for social regeneration and explore options for more inclusive forms of community participation. 

Understanding how local communities and visitors value local seafood provenance and sustainability forms the focus of a demo that explores consumer perceptions of sustainability and links to the local fishing industry, and whether provenance affects their purchasing decisions.


The last demo focuses on two areas that face increasing blue growth development pressures from aquaculture and coastal tourism – the Inner Hebrides in Scotland and Galway Bay in Ireland – and investigate the complex interactions between blue growth and cultural heritage where development poses both risks to cultural heritage and opportunities for its sustainable and considered exploitation.

University of York, Department of Environment and Geography
University of York, Department of Environment and Geography
University of the Highlands and Islands
University of the Highlands and Islands
Queen's University Belfast
Queen's University Belfast

Our team

Jasper Kenter

Deputy Coordinator

Steve Taylor

Case Study Lead

Elaine Azzopardi

WP6 lead

Sarah Knight

Portal Officer

Laura Ferguson

Wesley Flannery


Howard Cambridge

Douglas Wang

Clive Fox

Simone Martino

Professor Brendan Murtagh

Brendan Murtagh

Geraint Ellis

Contact us

University of York
YO10 5DD
United Kingdom
Department of Environment and Geography


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