The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands – what is it?

Looking west along Loch Affric to snow topped mountains

Is it the landscape? The community? A favourite memory? How would you interpret it?

The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project is being delivered by High Life Highland, on behalf of The Highland Council, and aims to create and promote compelling and sustainable visitor experiences that celebrate the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands, past, present and future.

Through the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project, we will create assets including an interactive map and story archive to inspire greater exploration of the region. These will also establish authentic connections to local communities through their stories, engaging people with our rich natural and cultural heritage.

We asked people to contribute their story responding to the prompt, ‘What story sums up the Spirit of the Highlands for you?’ In doing this, the aim is to create a legacy of engaged communities and co-curated content which will showcase the natural and cultural heritage of the region. This is an opportunity for the people of the Highlands and Islands – those who live, work and travel here – to represent their area. Community stories will also inspire and inform the new visitor attraction currently being developed for the transformed Inverness Castle site. 

The Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project will be delivered in partnership with VisitScotland. It is supported by a grant from the Natural and Cultural Heritage Fund (NCHF) led by NatureScot and part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Reflecting the Spirit of the Highlands theme, it will encourage people to visit all parts of the Highlands in a sustainable way.

Sophie Gartshore, Digital Project Officer for Spirit of the Highlands and Islands, said: “This is a great opportunity for people who love the Highlands to make their mark on the content for Spirit of the Highlands and Islands online and within the transformed Inverness Castle building in future! We are really looking forward to working with other projects and heritage sites to promote the natural and cultural heritage of the Highlands and Islands in unique ways.”

Stories submitted to the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project will be used to inspire people to visit areas across the region and develop authentic connections with local communities. They are inspiring the creation of a Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands and Spirit:360, an artist commissioning programme supported by Creative Scotland, giving local artists an opportunity to showcase their work capturing the ‘spirit’ of the region. 

We would love you to get involved! Do you have a story you want to share about what the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands means to you? Tell us at

There are many opportunities for museums to be involved with the Spirit of the Highlands and Islands project! We are looking for local people to be involved in the stitching of the Tapestry of the Highlands and Islands, as well as events and craft workshops surrounding this to showcase community stories and collections. We are excited to involve local museums and organisations at these events to highlight important aspects of regional culture and heritage.

We also want to support museum events and projects, especially during Scotland’s Year of Stories. If you would like to be featured on our story map or promote your event/project through our social channels please email

Spirit of the Highlands – what is it?

Spirit of the Highlands – what is it?

Spirit of the Highlands is an initiative specifically designed to help boost tourism and economic growth throughout the Highland area by promoting its culture and heritage, supported by the Inverness and the Highlands City Region Deal.

One of the project’s aims is to create an ‘Autobiography of the Highlands’, a unique collection of stories held in a digital archive, all told by the people who live, work and visit here. 

This “Spirit:Autobiography / Spiorad: Fèin-eachdraidh” will be an authentic insight into life in the Highlands today, and the heritage that has shaped this unique region, in the words of people from across the Highlands. 

We want to hear stories of communities too, large and small – the local events that shaped it, or how global events have affected it; about its singing sands or Viking graffiti – the things that give it a distinctive fingerprint. All the stories will be available for present and future generations to enjoy in the “Spirit:Autobiography” digital archive. Some of the stories will be used to inspire artists in a series of commissions in the Spirit:360 project, and others will be the foundation of the ‘Spirit of the Highlands in 100 Stories’ exhibition in Inverness Castle when it reopens. 

We’re looking for stories behind the headlines of history, stories about people you might hear at a ceilidh: the uncle who worked on the hydro schemes; the sister that set up the local fèis, the niece that kayaked the Great Glen in record time. 

We live in an extraordinary part of the world, rich in stories that make us laugh, cry or gasp in wonder. Stories that inspire and thrill us, that make us think and imagine, or sing and dance.

Whichever part of the Highlands we live in, these stories and legends reflect who we are and how we lived our lives in the past, how we live them now and how we might live them in the future.

Sharing these stories will encourage people who live here, and visitors, to explore the Highlands and discover more about our extraordinary and unique area. It’s quite a gift to give.  

That’s what the Spirit of the Highlands project, including the transformation of Inverness Castle, aims to do. 

The call for these stories is now live, and people across the world are being invited to share them at . Find out more through this short video narrated by Julie Fowlis. The closing date for submission of these stories is November 30th 2020. 

You can also follow and share the project through our social media channels Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.