Back to list

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

1st August 2017 | Categories: Competition

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:

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

Help us to do more

Help us: champion research; stimulate discussion; enhance public understanding; and share our extraordinary heritage. Donate directly to the Society now.