'We should all know where we came from.' Identity and personal experiences at heritage sites

Steven Timoney
2019 Journal of Heritage Tourism  
University of Glasgow. His PhD research focused on the presentation of archaeological sites to the public in Scotland. Alongside running the MSc programme, Steven has undertaken a variety of heritage interpretation projects and research into different aspects of interpretation practice. His wider research interests include: interpretation of cultural heritage; the visitor experience at heritage sites; public and community archaeology; and social geography, particularly landscape and societies
more » ... ape and societies past and present. 'We should all know where we came from.' Identity and personal experiences at heritage sites. This paper considers the role that heritage sites as visitor attractions play in the creation and reinforcing of identities at different levels through individual visitor experiences. In-depth interviews with participants at three heritage sites in Scotland reflect the role archaeological heritage can have in creating and reinforcing identities at different levels. Archaeological heritage, and its associated artefacts, creates a tangible link to 'the past', providing legitimacy for the creation of particular narratives of the past. In contrast, perceptions of individual identity are often bound up within broader notions of identity and place, but also reflect less obvious but equally valid personal interpretations of heritage sites. Personal identity manifest in different ways in the interviews, through engagement with tangible remains alongside authoritative accounts of 'the past'. The results show the complex nature of identity when considering visitor experiences at heritage sites, and how recognised narratives of identity may be reimagined and reconstructed through individual experiences on site.
doi:10.1080/1743873x.2019.1667999 fatcat:tcaqaolx45c2bee3nkzuubkide