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Urban Detectives Sought to Record a Tiny Piece of Edinburgh’s History

Posted: 13th April 2016

Scotland’s Urban Past are recruiting heritage lovers to get hands on with history by taking part in a nationwide initiative to record the littlest local landmarks in Scotland’s towns and cities.

The initiative comes from Scotland’s Urban Past (SUP), a five-year community-engagement project from Historic Environment Scotland, and is part of the celebrations for the Year of Innovation, Architecture and Design 2016.

Volunteers can become ‘Urban Detectives’ by submitting photographs and location coordinates of Edinburgh’s tiny buildings to the SUP website. Users are also invited to take measurements and sketches, all of which will become part of Canmore, Scotland’s online record of architecture, archaeology and industry.

Queen Mary’s Bath House, built in the 16th century in the gardens of Holyrood Palace, is just one of the many tiny sites to be investigated by Edinburgh-based Urban Detectives. Despite its name, this curious, asymmetrical building was most likely to have been a garden pavilion rather than a bath house. The peculiarly-shaped summer house is believed to be the earliest surviving garden building in Scotland.

Chiara Ronchini, SUP Project Manager, said: “People throughout Scotland will be bringing our national collection to life by telling the big stories of our tiniest buildings. Our dedicated digital team have made it easy to contribute information to Canmore on mobiles and tablets, as well as PCs and Macs, so you can even add a snapshot of local landmarks on your way to work. Every contribution will be accessible to the wider public, helping to build a detailed and accessible history of our urban heritage by the people who live within it. It’s a great opportunity to help document Edinburgh, past and present, for generations to come.”

For more information and to get involved, visit

SUP is supported by the National Lottery with a grant of £1.65m from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

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