EVERY year, thousands of visitors flock to sites all over Scotland to discover more about the country’s rich history.

Whether it’s exploring one of our many castles, taking in a fascinating museum or exploring abandoned villages, there really is something for everyone.

It would of course be easy to take all this history for granted, but the Sunday National has spoken with four people who work behind the scenes with Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to preserve and maintain our rich cultural heritage.

Luke Maher – Stonemason

Maher found his role with HES while he was working on another major historical site – the Antonine Wall, which served as the most northerly frontier of the Roman Empire.

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Eventually, he discovered an opportunity for an apprenticeship at Doune Castle and has been working as a stonemason with HES for around six years.

“I get to work at historic sites and properties across central Scotland. It’s an incredibly satisfying trade to have, quite a unique one,” he says.

The role itself allows Maher (below) to travel all across Scotland, using conservation techniques to repair and maintain structures and properties at sites across the country.

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HES stonemasons are based across a number of depots, including Stirling Castle, Doune Castle and Arbroath Abbey.

Working at so many historic sites naturally leads to plenty of highlights, although there’s one particular moment that stands out for Maher.

“I had the chance to take the Stone of Destiny (below) down to London for King Charles’s coronation – it was a fantastic experience and wonderful to be a part of history," he says.

The National: The Stone of Destiny will be available to view from this weekend

The artefact is now housed in the recently opened and newly renovated Perth Museum.

Stacey Hibberd – Blacksmith

Hibberd started her career as a farrier apprentice shoeing horses but found she was particularly drawn to the blacksmithing element.

“I love working with historical ironwork and figuring out how people from centuries ago created such incredible things,” she explains.

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However, Hibberd (above) adds that her five-year-old self would likely be surprised at her ultimate career path with HES as she was convinced she was going to be a vet.

Now though, her role allows her to go behind the scenes of some of Scotland’s most important cultural landmarks.

She explained: “As a blacksmith, I create and conserve historical ironwork and maintain several historic properties across Scotland.

“It’s quite a diverse trade with lots of different aspects to it. It’s really important that we preserve traditional skills so repairs and maintenance are done right, otherwise it could cause more damage.

“Without conservation blacksmiths, the beautiful ironwork wouldn’t be there for people to enjoy in the future.”

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Asked if there was a standout moment in her career thus far, Hibberd said: “The thing I enjoy most about my role is being able to go behind the scenes at these historical sites and really immerse myself in our heritage – an opportunity not many people get.

“I’ve even been to the very top of Glasgow Cathedral to inspect the weathervane there.”

Sophia Mirashrafi – Digital innovation officer

Combining history and the digital is one of the most important roles when it comes to preserving cultural heritage.

In her role with The Engine Shed, that’s exactly what Mirashrafi does – helping to create 3D models of sites and artefacts.

She comes from an archaeology background and, in contrast to Hibberd, explains that her five-year-old self would be “obsessed with the work I’m doing today”.

It’s an important role, one that takes aspects from other sectors such as gaming and photography and applying them to the heritage sector.

Explaining the specifics of the role, Mirashrafi (below) said: “To map ancient sites, we use a scanner that sends out a laser and bounces off the surface before coming back to the machine at one million times per second with incredible accuracy.

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“Alongside photogrammetry and drone footage, this allows for superb photorealistic texture for things like virtual reality.”

She points to a number of memorable moments which stick out, including working to digitally reconstruct Caerlaverock Castle’s Islamic glass.

“I get to crawl around in really cool places across Scotland like Maeshowe, which is a chambered tomb in Orkney, and Skara Brae – a 5000-year-old village in the same island.

“I’m down on my hands and knees crawling along corridors to access all the nooks and crannies for digital mapping – some of the walls were even covered in Viking graffiti.”

Kirsty Gallagher – Tourism apprentice

Along with preserving Scotland’s heritage, also important is promoting it to attract the thousands who flock here every year to see what it’s all about.

That’s exactly the type of role Gallagher (below) works in as a modern apprentice in cultural venue operations at Stirling Castle.

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“I used to drive past Stirling Castle all the time and now I get to work here every single day,” she says.

Gallagher continues: “The best thing about my role is meeting hundreds of new people every day from across the globe and keeping Scotland’s history alive and strong by sharing stories with them.

“For some visitors, it’s their dream to come to Stirling Castle and I get to make it even more of a positive experience for them.”