1.4 Framework Strategy

1.4.1 Approach

While it would have been possible to produce a Framework that adopted a chronological outline, we have instead aligned our thinking with heritage practices and strategies published by the government. Our four themes are:

  1. Creating Knowledge and Understanding (see Section 3)
  2. Understanding Value (see Section 4)
  3. Securing for the Future (see Section 5)
  4. Engaging and Experiencing (see Section 6).

In addition to the four themes above, cross-cutting themes include ‘materiality’, ‘biography’, context/landscape and the application of digital and scientific technologies.

We had looked to Our Place in Time: The Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland (OPIT), published by the Scottish Government in 2014, but found we needed to draw a critical distinction between understanding value (the ways in which something is meaningful and relevant to society) and engaging and experiencing (the mechanisms to create social benefits by promoting appreciation of values and of significance—the access, interpretation, learning and tourism that OPIT places in its Value section). Hence, our introduction of Understanding Value, a fourth aim/priority to the three it identifies. Our different use of the term value reflects longstanding international conservation heritage practice (de la Torre 2002; Australia ICOMOS Burra Charter, 2013). A clear application of this is English Heritage (EH)’s 2008 Conservation Principles for sustainable management of change in the historic environment. While recognizing that the aims and target audience of OPIT are broader than the historic environment and its managers, it helps more generally to distinguish between values and instrumental benefits (e.g. Clark 2010).

The rationale for our approach is that we believe it offers the best hope of making a difference. This is because it will enable a more mainstream audience to be able to relate to and apply our observations, even if much of our detail is about academic research. This is also an approach that celebrates and embraces the cross-cutting nature of carved stones and avoids narrow and blinkered thinking in ‘silos’, but equally wants tempering by remembering the links to other media and visual culture (see e.g. Henderson and Henderson 2004; Insh 2014). The drawback of a specifically ‘carved stones’ focus is that carved stones risk being considered outside of other aspects of their contexts (although this is hardly our intention). Along the way we have identified a large number of systemic issues that are barriers to research on carved stones, although many are not unique to carved stones.

Since many of us do want and need to focus on a particular period or theme, and historically speaking this is a more familiar approach to carved stones, we have provided period-based and thematic historiographies (Section 2). In adopting our thematic approach we have needed to explain where we are coming from and there is some unavoidable overlap in content, particularly between these historiographies and the thematic approaches.

Our intention has been to provide a series of lenses through which to consider the carved stone resource. To improve its accessibility, we have organized the Framework into sections which readers can dip into as they please, although the best understanding of our approach and its application will derive from reading the sections sequentially. We have also assembled from a diverse range of authors a rich body of Case Studies which highlight recent and current work on carved stones and, we hope, demonstrate in greater depth the issues raised in the main text.

1.4.2 Understanding value

Figure 5 is a graphic representation of the differences between the conservation management cycle, its equivalence in interpretation, and the three stated aims of OPIT, to help explain the difference between our Framework structure and OPIT. The heritage conservation cycle at the heart of this diagram is something that heritage managers aim to deliver: understanding that leads to valuing, valuing that leads to caring for something, caring that leads to enjoyment, which in turn feeds back into a desire to know more (Thurley 2005). In practice and in a wider sense, the relationship between knowledge and values, in particular, is cyclical not linear: what we value informs what we seek to understand and how we aim to do this, while our understanding shapes some but not all of our values (at least in relation to historic and scientific values). This applies to everyone, not just the people with academic knowledge or those who work in heritage management.

Figure 5: A visual comparison of the aims of the OPIT strategy (Scottish Government 2014) in relation to the heritage conservation cycle (Thurley 2005) and interpretation practices (Tilden 1957). The cyclical relationship between understanding and certain types of values must also be considered. © Sally Foster

In giving Understanding Value its due place in our Framework structure we will make it easier to achieve the overall ambitions of OPIT. Understanding value and significance (the sum of values) is what makes informed-decision making work. If we understand the different values that different communities of interest may have, we can see where they do or could intersect, and identify common purposes.

Overall, our vision is that research on our core themes of understanding, valuing, caring and engaging will function together to provide an ongoing and deepening cycle of making a difference (having an impact /bringing benefits), and as such will aid future researchers as well as those to whom they apply for funds. In Looking Forward (Section 7), we will consider what success might look like. This is only the beginning of a process. The wiki format of ScARF will permit our readers to add to what is suggested here, with further thought and time.