Six Stunning Sites Unearthed in Search for Scotland’s Hidden Gems

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Winners chosen by popular vote include Viking-era monuments, a “castle on the hill” and a medieval burial ground

Dig It! 2017, the year-long celebration of archaeology, has been coordinating the Scotland-wide search. Over 12,000 votes have been cast over the last two months and with the polls now closed, the winners have been revealed:  

  • Govan Stones, Glasgow
  • Ardrossan Castle, North Ayrshire
  • The Howff, Dundee
  • James Watt Cottage, Bo’ness (Falkirk)
  • Campbeltown Picture House, Argyll & Bute
  • Lincluden Collegiate Church, Dumfries & Galloway

With over 2,000 votes, the Govan Stones was the most popular site. The collection consists of 31 medieval stones carved in the Viking era, including carved crosses and five Viking hogback stones. Ardrossan Castle, a medieval ruin which once played host to some of Scotland’s most powerful people including William Wallace, came in second place.

The Howff, a 453-year-old graveyard, landed in third place with over 1,000 votes. Fourth place was claimed by James Watt Cottage – the former workshop of the inventor James Watt, whose steam engine played a key role in the Industrial Revolution.

Campbeltown Picture House, one of the earliest surviving purpose-built cinemas in the UK, came in fifth place with over 800 votes. The final spot was claimed by Lincluden Collegiate Church, where visitors can still find angels and cherubs carved in the stone.

As part of the 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology, Scotland’s six World Heritage Sites were celebrated with six events in April. The organisers then set out to find six “lesser-known” sites to bring them into the spotlight as well.

The ‘Scotland in Six – Hidden Gems’ campaign began in June after 28 sites were nominated by local groups and organisations. Voting took place on Facebook, where one “like” equalled one vote.

The six winning Hidden Gems sites are now preparing to mark their victory with six events during Scottish Archaeology Month in September

Dr Jeff Sanders, Dig It! 2017 Project Manager, said:

“We’ve been thrilled by the reaction to the Hidden Gems campaign. The people who nominated the sites have put an enormous amount of time and effort into the promotion and it’s been great to see members of the public respond with equal enthusiasm – whether they’re sharing childhood memories or discovering a site for the first time.”

Marie Christie, Head of Development, VisitScotland Events Directorate said:

‘From World Heritage Sites to ancient monuments, listed buildings to historic battlefields, cultural traditions to our myths, stories and legends, the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is the time to explore Scotland’s fascinating past.

Following the success of Scotland in Six, celebrating World Heritage Day, it is great to see the overwhelming response from voters who are proud to support some of Scotland’s ‘lesser known’ sites. These hidden gems highlight our rich and diverse history and we are looking forward to the events planned for Scottish Archaeology Month in September.’

To learn more about the sites, visit


Pink Dig It! 2017 logo with trowel



Dig It! 2017

  • Dig It! 2017 is a year-long celebration of Scottish archaeology, co-ordinated by the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland and Archaeology Scotland for the Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology 2017.
  • The project is primarily funded by Historic Environment Scotland.
  • For more information, visit or join the conversation using #ScotlandinSixHG

 2017 Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology

  • 2017 is the year to delve into the past and discover Scotland’s fascinating stories through a wide-ranging variety of new and existing activity to drive the nation’s tourism and events sector, boosting tourism across Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology begins on 1 January 2017 and will end on 31 December 2017.  It will build on the momentum generated by previous themed years in Scotland including the 2015 Year of Food and Drink, Homecoming Scotland 2014, the Year of Creative and the Year of Natural.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is a Scottish Government initiative being led by VisitScotland, and supported by a variety of partners including Creative Scotland, Scottish Tourism Alliance, Scottish Enterprise, The National Trust for Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Built Environment Forum Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Museums Galleries Scotland and Traditional Arts and Culture Scotland.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology is supported by £570,000 of Scottish Government funding.
  • The Year of History, Heritage and Archaeology events fund is managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate.
  • For more information visit or join the conversation at #HHA2017

Further Information

For additional details contact:

Julianne McGraw

Dig It! 2017 Communications Officer

Phone: 0131 247 4066