Young storytellers to put their own spin on 5,000 years of history

Youngsters are being encourage to enter the storytelling competition, with lots of goodies to be won. Photograph: Historic Environment Scotland

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Young people from across Scotland are being asked to take inspiration from more than 5,000 years of Scotland’s history as part of the Year of Stories.

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) hopes to inspire young storytellers through heritage as part of its If These Walls Could Talk project which launched yesterday, Wednesday May 25.

Young people aged eight to 12 will be asked to tell a tale that features a Historic Scotland site in English or Gaelic through spoken or written storytelling by submitting a 150-300-word story or two-minute storytelling video by Friday June 24.

All participants will be entered into a prize draw where there will be a range of exciting prizes up for grabs, including a Historic Scotland family membership for one year; a Historic Scotland seven-day family explorer pass; book bundles and writing kits; a signed set of Cressida Cowell How to Train Your Dragon books; a one-hour storytelling session for a school or library; and tickets for the Storytelling Festival in October for a school class.

HES has partnered with Scottish Book Trust and the Scottish Storytelling Forum to deliver the project and will engage with local schools and youth organisations to encourage young people to take part.

The entrants can use various historic sites throughout the country for inspiration, including the world-famous Edinburgh Castle, Fort George – the 18th century fortification in the Highlands which was built in the wake of the Battle of Culloden – and Hermitage Castle in the Borders, which was visited by Mary Queen of Scots in 1566, as well as sites such as Skara Brae in Orkney, which date back to the Neolithic period.

A showreel featuring some of the most inspiring entries will be created and shared across HES’s social media channels and website as part of the Year of Stories 2022.

Alex Paterson, chief executive of HES, said: ‘Our historic houses, castles and abbeys have been linked to stories throughout history and I look forward to finding out how they continue to inspire young people today.

‘In addition to a range of fantastic prizes on offer, the voices of young people up and down the country will be celebrated through a showreel to highlight their diverse and creative tales, providing an opportunity for their perspectives to be featured and showcased as part of Scotland’s themed year.’

Culture Minister Neil Gray said: ‘We are fortunate to have a wealth of historic sites in Scotland that I’m sure will fire the imaginations of budding young storytellers all over the country.

‘Scotland is famous for producing outstanding writers, so this exciting competition, which is part of our Year of Stories activities, is a wonderful platform for our storytellers of the future to make their mark.’

Marc Lambert, CEO of Scottish Book Trust, said: ‘Working with our partners, we hope that many young people will be encouraged to share their different experiences and shape the narrative of our country. We look forward to reading the Year of Stories submissions and learning about young writers’ favourite spots in Scotland.’

Miriam Morris, communications and development officer for The Scottish Storytelling Forum, said: ‘This is a great way to engage with stories and storytelling in the Year of Scotland’s Stories and the perfect opportunity to celebrate the history around us.

‘Storytelling is one of Scotland’s oldest traditional art forms and we’ve seen more and more young people interested in the tradition of the spoken word. We’re delighted to be part of this project and are looking forward to seeing and hearing all the stories that come in.’

To enter, visit: hes.scot/these-walls