For over two years, Global Connects has been entrusted with translating text about our country’s most historically important sites. Not only do these Castles, Abbeys and other sites have an important and often prestigious place in history, but today, thanks to the work of HES, they are becoming increasingly popular with a wider and more diverse range of people than ever before and many are used for film and television work.  Scotland has traditionally offered an exceptionally friendly welcome to people from all over the world and that, of course, is where our work at Global Connects makes a real difference.

HES 2Like Scotland’s visitors, our work has been diverse and far-ranging, involving translation of maps, guides, quizzes, leaflets and information sheets for Scotland’s protected historical buildings. HES manages more than 300 of Scotland’s historical sites, including Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Melrose Abbey and Dunblane Cathedral. With these historical sites starting to reopen and with flights starting to return to the country again, it’s more important than ever that Historic Environment Scotland continues to reach out to international markets.

To illustrate how we go about our work, Global Connects interviewed some of our translators about their approach…

Spanish is one of the major languages requested and our Spanish translation team takes a lot of pride in their work.  The Spanish translator who led on these projects for us said, “I actually have Historic Environment Scotland membership, so I get all their magazines sent to me, which gave me a good starting point!  

“I began with some in-depth research on all the places concerned and read about the sites on the HES website.  I also studied other tourist websites to build up as complete a picture as possible and, in particular, learned as much as I could about the specific historical figures mentioned in the text we were working on.  This gave me the historical context and helped aid my understanding of the whole story before I began translating. I also own many books about Scottish history, so you could say I was ‘over-prepared’ for this projectnot that you can ever be over-prepared when you are translating interesting material like this…”

Historically, Scotland and Poland have a lot of shared stories, and Polish is another important language for HES. The member of our Polish translation team who was involved in this work told a similar story to his Spanish counterpart, noting, “I always research the topic in Polish first, going to a variety of sites and sources. I believe it’s very important to see the terminology used in official Polish sites as this ensures my translation is as accurate as possible.”

French is obviously another major language used by HES and our French team’s approach is, unsurprisingly, similarly professional, with a lot of background work required before beginning the actual translation itself.  The lead on this project told us, “I read the translation brief and the source text in full and also read relevant articles in English to give me a wider understanding of the historical background, specifically those aspects with which I was less familiar. 

“One thing that seems obvious, but is often overlooked, is to look on a map to see exactly where the site is and I also look at pictures of the sites in order to visualise them and gain a better understanding of the location, its surroundings and topographical features. 

Then I search for parallel texts by looking for similar articles or brochures on the place which have been written in French.  I make a point of finding French tourist brochures written for similar places to keep in mind the style and the register required for the target readership.

“For more specialised terms (architectural or medieval words or expressions for example), I carry out two separate monolingual searches and then cross reference the sources: i.e. I look up the definition of the term in English, then, if necessary, look at how it is used in articles: then I do the same for the corresponding term in French.  This ensures I select the correct word(s) in the correct context. I also do similar researches for proper nouns and see how they are commonly known and used in the French language.”

To date, Global Connects has translated HES resources into French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Simplified Chinese, Portuguese (EU & Brazilian), Russian, Korean, Gaelic, Dutch, Norwegian and Japanese.  Our team who worked on these translations has a real passion for history and spent many hours researching Scottish tourist information and relevant content from their home countries to ensure the final product available to visitors is of the highest standardThe process we have developed with Historic Environment Scotland is thorough and robust. A professional, experienced translator and proof-reader are assigned to work on each language. After translation and proofreading, there is a further revision stage where the translator implements any suggestions from the proof-reader, then a further revision is undertaken. Finally, we carry out a DTP check after Historic Environment Scotland has typeset our translations into their artwork. This stage is crucial as occasionally text can by typeset incorrectly by someone who does not speak the language. Our teams conduct this final review to ensure production of a high quality, polished product ready for our country’s visitors.


As the coronavirus crisis hopefully eases, we would love to see more people take the opportunity to visit Scotland’s wonderful historical sites and the many other fascinating places we have in abundance the length and breadth of the country.  A good place to start is here:

Finally, please get in touch with Global Connects if you would like to find out more about how we can help you on your localisation journey.

Fiona Woodford, Global Connects


Copyright of images belongs to HES / Crown.