Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Introduction to Building Conservation Week

Discover the materials and skills used in conserving Scotland's traditional buildings in this immersive 5-day course, taking place at the Engine Shed in June 2024.


This five-day course involves lectures, activities and guided visits to sites in Stirling, Doune and Glasgow. Each day includes lunch and refreshments.


Monday 10 - Friday 14 June

5 days


Full week:


Per day (pick your day/s):


Student bursaries available

Full Week Tickets

Includes lunch and refreshments for each day

Buy Full Week Tickets

Tickets for individual days are available in the drop-down list below

Join us for a 5-day intensive course delivered by Historic Environment Scotland conservation professionals at the Engine Shed in Stirling.

Through a series of lectures, activities and site visits, this series of informative and enjoyable days will explore the Traditional Building Skills and Materials used in conservation and repair projects throughout the Scottish Built Environment.

Site visits

The Conservation Week programme includes expert-led curated tours of Stirling Old Town, Doune Castle, Glasgow Cathedral, the Necropolis, and Glasgow Green. 

Who should attend?

We encourage graduates, heritage professionals and building practitioners from all disciplines interested in developing their knowledge and practice in traditional buildings to consider attending.

We also welcome anyone responsible for a traditional building or with an interest in the broader aspects of building conservation in Scotland.

Funded places

Bursaries may be available to those who have completed their third year or are a recent graduate of a building related subject such as architecture, surveying, engineering or planning, and/or those who can demonstrate a passion to develop a career in conservation.

To apply simply send your CV and a covering letter stating why you would like to do this course and what you hope to gain by attending by 12 noon on Friday 10 May 2024 to 

Successful applicants will be contacted by Friday 24 May 2024. 

Book Day Tickets

Discover the programme of lectures, activities and site visits. Choose which days to attend, or book the full week.

Day 1

Conservation Essentials

Monday 10 June 2024

9.30am - 4pm

Join us to explore the strategies and philosophies governing architectural conservation in Scotland, and the best approaches for tackling repair projects.

We will examine the nature and function of traditional Scottish building materials, outlining how international standards of good conservation practice can be applied to offset or adapt to the impact of climate change on our historic built environment.

After lunch, we will enjoy a walking tour around the Old Town of Stirling, where our team will identify and discuss a range of conservation, repair and maintenance issues as well as potential solutions.

Learning Outcomes

You will:

* learn how the materials, design and construction of traditional Scottish buildings affect function and performance over time

* understand the development of international conservation principles and ethics and how these inform and justify decisions affecting repairs, alterations and maintenance

* learn how to place a building, site or area within the historical development of Scottish architecture, townscape and construction technology

* understand how key issues, including dramatic changes to climate and economy, are impacting Scotland’s traditional built environment and how these are being addressed

Book Monday Tickets
Day 2

Conservation Building Blocks

Tuesday 11 June 2024

9.30am - 4pm

Since the medieval period, Scotland’s historic environment was typically built using a limited palette of materials to provide shelter – stone and lime for the walls, and slate and lead for the roof.

We will introduce you to the use of sandstone and lime in creating Scotland’s traditional buildings and discuss current best practice in repair and conservation.

You will then hear an overview of how natural slate and lead sheet were exploited to keep the weather out of our traditional buildings, and how characteristic Scottish roofs should be maintained and repaired.

Learning Outcomes

You will:

* understand the basic principles and techniques underpinning best practice in stone repair and conservation in Scotland

* understand the basic principles and techniques of processing lime for traditional building purposes

* learn how centuries of limeworking in Scotland has informed current best practice in repair and conservation

* learn how a range of materials were used to roof Scotland’s historic buildings over the past three centuries and how these roofs can and should be repaired today

Book Tuesday Tickets
Day 3

Conserving the Castle

Wednesday 12 June 2024

9.30am - 4pm

Scotland is renowned for its many picturesque yet formidable castles, but few people realise what it takes to maintain these ancient structures, to inspect the fabric and assess risks, and keep the sites safe for public access.

Today’s sessions will concentrate on what it takes to “conserve the castle”, beginning with talks from Historic Environment Scotland staff responsible for the on-going High-Level Masonry survey project. The broad scope and detailed planning behind the HLM project will be explored, along with a review of the findings of the surveys undertaken to date.

The third talk of the morning will shift the focus to a matter of growing concern for heritage agencies across the globe: the impact of burgeoning visitor numbers at historic sites and other fragile tourist destinations. From enhanced wear and tear of historic fabric, to the need for improved infrastructure to facilitate access, the issue of sustainable and responsible tourism is increasingly a major concern as visitor numbers increase.

After a networking lunch at the Engine Shed, we will continue the discussions on castle conservation and responsible tourism as we explore nearby Doune Castle and hear how Historic Environment Scotland is investing in new infrastructure improvements to better manage tourist numbers in the wake of the “Outlander Effect.”

Learning Outcomes

You will:

* learn about the challenges of undertaking fabric inspections of large and complex medieval structures

* understand how ancient masonry decays over time and the range of stone conservation issues affecting the integrity of and access to these monuments

* hear how long-term planning for improving access must take into account the impact of visitor numbers, the cultural significance of a site, and the fragility of historic building fabric

* understand how responsible tourism initiatives must complement broader aspects of sustainability and climate change policy

Book Wednesday Tickets
Day 4

Conservation in a Changing Climate

Thursday 13 June 2024

9.30am - 4pm

Scotland’s traditional buildings must be carefully assessed and appropriately retrofitted to mitigate the potential damage from a changing climate. We will discuss climate change, carbon mitigation, adaptation and the basic principles of making traditional Scottish buildings more energy efficient.

We will delve into aspects of climate change policy, explore theoretical and practical solutions that are making a difference, and discuss how we can protect Scotland's assets for the future by adapting our buildings as well as our behaviour. Following talks on the impacts of a changing climate on our built heritage, and how adaptation would help mitigate the worst effects, we will hear about a case study outlining the challenges of introducing a range of retrofit measures to a Glasgow tenement.

A networking lunch will provide you with the opportunity to continue discussions and inspect the retrofit rig in the main hall.

In the afternoon, we will concentrate on the practical aspects of installing a range of retrofit techniques into traditional buildings and so maximising energy efficiency whilst minimising the impact on their appearance or cultural significance.

Learning Outcomes

You will:

* understand the emerging threats to Scotland’s historic built environment stemming from increased rainfall, increasing temperatures, and rising sea levels

* learn how Historic Environment Scotland (and Scotland as a whole) aims to combat the immediate effects of climate change at both policy and practical levels

* identify the most immediate and damaging ways Scotland’s traditional buildings are affected by a changing climate and the best measures to be taken to address this challenge

* understand the broader aspects of best practice in energy efficiency as it applies to retrofitting Scotland’s traditional buildings

* recognise how retrofitting traditional buildings to meet current standards should be undertaken in a holistic manner to achieve maximum performance. 6. Learn how to compare retrofit materials, technologies and procedures to choose appropriate applications in different contexts

Book Thursday Tickets
Day 5

Conserving the City - Glasgow Old and New

Friday 14 June 2024

9.30am - 4pm

On our final day of Conservation Week, we will travel to Glasgow to enjoy a range of guided tours of some of its key heritage sites – some recently restored, others currently in the process of being repaired and others soon to see major conservation projects get underway.

Our first stop will be the 13th century Glasgow Cathedral, where we will hear about the current stone repairs to the steeple as well as the many projects undertaken by Historic Environment Scotland stonemasons over the past twenty-five years. We will then cross the street to meet the architect for the recent restoration of Provands Lordship (1471), Glasgow’s oldest house and an icon in the city’s conservation history.

After lunch we will take a tour of the enigmatic Necropolis – the “City of the Dead” – to inspect the many grand and grandiose tombs and mausoleums constructed by Victorian Glasgow’s mercantile elite. We will hear how a near-derelict site has become one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions.

From there, we will travel to Glasgow Green, the city’s oldest (1450) and most famous public open space and the home of a wide range of important listed structures, including the People’s Palace museum and winter garden, the ostentatious Templeton’s Carpet Factory, the terracotta Doulton Fountain and the thrice-relocated McLennan Arch.

Learning Outcomes

You will:

* learn about the practicalities of undertaking large and complex conservation and repair projects to major public landmarks whilst retaining public access

* understand the challenges in addressing sensitive conservation issues affecting the public perceptions of a much-loved local landmark

* hear how long-term planning for conservation repair projects can underpin their eventual success despite persistent funding issues

Book Friday Tickets


  • explore the best approaches to conserving/repairing traditional buildings
  • discover how and why Scotland was built from stone, lime, slate and lead
  • see pioneering conservation projects first-hand on guided field trips
  • enjoy over a dozen lectures from leading experts on traditional skills
  • discover the effects of climate change on our heritage
  • learn what it takes to maintain Scotland's ancient and historic castles