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Joint statement from the Intangible Cultural Heritage Scotland Partnership

Three adults with light skin, brown jumpers and loose brown trousers walk in a line outside in the dark. Each adult holds flaming torches and a large ring around their waists.

The Intangible Cultural Heritage Scotland Partnership welcomes the UK Government’s announcement of their intention to ratify the 2003 UNESCO Convention for the safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. 

Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) is a tradition, practice, or living expression of a group or community. This can include oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, and traditional crafts.  Examples of ICH in Scotland are wide reaching, including practices such as Shetland’s Up Helly Aa Festival or Edinburgh Mela, cultural traditions such as bothy ballads, bagpiping, and clootie wells, games such as shinty, the making of food such as haggis, and traditional crafts such as thatching and Fair Isle knitting.   

In Scotland, work on ICH has been supported through a partnership involving Museums Galleries Scotland, Historic Environment Scotland, TRACS (Traditional Arts & Culture Scotland) and Creative Scotland. The partnership draws upon a wealth of knowledge, research, and expertise, and works together with academic institutions, interested networks, and ICH practitioners.  

The partners look forward to continuing to collaborate to support understanding and recording of ICH and to extending that work as ratification is further explored.  

Collaborative working among sector lead bodies and representatives of community ICH practitioners will be vital, and we will be working to identify opportunities for further discussion and consultation over the coming months.  

We also look forward to future sharing and learning from good practice across the UK and internationally, building links worldwide with ICH supporting bodies, including UNESCO. 

The partnership will be planning opportunities to feed into consultations in early 2024 so look out for details of these.  

For further information on ICH in Scotland, visit the ICH Scotland website.

You can read a release from the UK Government release here Scottish traditions to be formally recognised as UK joins UNESCO Convention – GOV.UK (

You can also find more information on ICH in the Year of Stories, Communities Stories Programme and other advice pages via the links below.