RESEARCHERS have warned that culture and traditions which have shaped communities across Scotland are at risk of being permanently lost.

Experts at University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Historic Environment Scotland (HES) are exploring aspects of Scotland’s intangible cultural heritage, aspects of culture which do not exist in physical form but are passed down through generations.

This includes folklore, traditional music, oral history and practices such as peat cutting.

There is no framework in place across the United Kingdom to ensure these traditions are preserved.

READ MORE: School students boycott Wes Streeting assembly over Palestine stance

Those behind the project have warned that these traditions were “at risk of being lost” and the lack of a protective framework in Scotland had hindered progress in preserving heritage.

Dr Stephen Collins, project co-lead and a reader in performance at UWS, said: “The lack of a framework to protect intangible heritage in Scotland has created a series of problems.

“Firstly, economically. At the moment, a filmmaker can come to Scotland and use all sorts of cultural signifiers, without any requirement for payment, which could have generated income for the communities. “Then there’s the fact it creates the risk of people losing ownership of our own traditions and stories.

“A production company can present Scottish traditions in a way that prioritises the story they want to tell over reality – and this risks fiction overwriting fact. “Blockbuster film and television productions set in Scotland can sometimes take creative liberties, creating a false sense of what Scotland and its traditions are.

“It blurs the line between fiction and reality, making preservation all the more important.”

The project, titled Ar Dàimhean is Dualachas (Our Relationships and Heritage), is funded by the British Academy Early Career Network and supported by Creative Scotland.

Those behind the project have said they are working with communities to understand what intangible cultural heritage means to them and how they can be better supported in the future by Scotland’s public bodies.

This includes running workshops, such as the ones delievered on the Isles of Lewis and Harris in collaboration with Creative Scotland and Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which emphasised the importance of Gaelic and the culture surrounding the language.

Catriona Morrison, Gaelic language policy manager at HES said: "Scotland has an incredibly rich cultural heritage with roots that run deep through our history, our environment, our language, and our stories.

READ MORE: 'Insipid' King's Speech slated for 'abandoning Scots'

“Through these workshops we were able to collect and record invaluable insights into the Western Isles' intangible cultural heritage to give us a greater understanding and ensure we can protect elements of the language and traditions at risk of being lost.

"We will use what we learned in Lewis and Harris to develop best practice and to work with local communities to safeguard their intangible cultural heritage."

Looking to the future, the team behind the project say they want the work they have been doing to preserve cultural traditions to be replicated across Scotland.

Dr Collins added: “We want to create a Scotland-wide network of best practice – to amplify the good work being done to safeguard intangible cultural heritage for the future.

“This will, of course, take time – but it’s something that is within our reach, and an important step forward as we look to preserve Scottish traditions.”