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

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Heritage Tourism
Issue number4
Early online date24 Sept 2019
Publication statusPublished - 24 Sept 2019


  • heritage tourism
  • visitor experience
  • heritage
  • identity
  • Scotland
  • 25ref2021


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