A lifetime of knowledge and 5 star management experience in Highland Heritage & Culture

About

Highland

Historian

Heritage Consultancy & Bespoke Tour Guiding with

Andrew Grant McKenzie MA (Hons) FSA Scot

Andrew Grant McKenzie: the Highland Historian

 

 

 

In the Gàidhealtachd, people will often ask "cò às a tha thu?". The question means "who are you?", but the answer is rarely simple. Asking who someone is in the Highland sense, is to ask where they came from and what their origins are. Rather than your name, the answer to the question could be simply your birth-town or the estate, township or clan you are from. A more complex and traditional answer would be your name in its traditional form with multiple generations of your ancestry rather than your modern surname. The answer could also be a detailed story - like the following...

'S e Anndra Mac' Ailean Mac' Iain Mac' Dabhaidh Mac' Iain ann à Baile a' Ghaoil an t-ainm a th'orm... I have been surrounded by Highland Culture from an early age. Despite this and my family's Highland roots, I grew up in Darlington where one of two formally recognised Gaelic Societies in England was formed. Combined with this, my Granda McKenzie's stories and regular family holidays to the Highlands; I developed a life-long interest in Highland Culture and History, as well as toursim practices. This led to my graduation with an M.A. in Scottish Historical Studies from the University of Dundee.

It was in Dundee that I worked in the University Archives, assisting with the cataloguing of the Glamis Muniments before moving to Culloden Battlefield in 2008. Before becoming manager of the site for the National Trust for Scotland (NTS), I worked extensively as a researcher, advisor and consultant to various groups. This included working as a guide at St Andrews Castle and Cathedral for Historic Scotland (HS), Castle Leod, and the Clan MacKenzie International Gatherings, 2010 and 2015.

 

In 2014 I became the Property Manager of Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre, taking charge of a 5 star visitor attraction which is known worldwide due to its intensely strong connections with the development of the Highlands during the early-modern period. My aims in that role were clear - to ensure the whole battle site's survival for future generations and to balance commercialism and conservationism to ensure the best management of the NTS owned battle site and the battle site at large. This led to my continuing efforts against the developments planned at the site, but also led to me creating and implementing management strategies which boosted turnover above £2million for the first time and reduced expenditure to create a balanced business model at the same time as growing visitor numbers, satisfaction, online audiences and conservation awareness to record levels. Conservation successes also included the vital purchase of the Blunderbuss captured during the battle and letters written by Charles Edward Stuart, as well as instigating a LiDAR scan of the entire battle site and advising the Highland Council on the creation of the Culloden Muir Conservation Area (2015). I am now the Watchman for Culloden Battlefield for the Scottish Battlefields Trust (SBT) and a Trustee of Castle Leod for the Cromartie Estate.

Whilst at Culloden Battleifeld, I was part of the North Area Marketing Group which developed a marketing strategy for the most successful area in the NTS portfolio and was part of the advisory group which created the Visitor Experience strategy for the NTS. As Visitor Experience Champion at Culloden I developed the first official Property Facebook Page for the NTS and developed the national Social Media strategy which led to the Culloden Facebook page being the fastest growing Facebook business page in the UK over a 48-hour period. This audience creation helped to develop a worldwide audience to engage with the cultural and historical debates surrounding Culloden and to develop marketing potential.

In his book "Great Battles: Culloden", Murray Pittock, Bradley Professor and Pro Vice-Principal at the University of Glasgow wrote the following:

"Anndra Grannd MacCoinnich, who became property manager in 2014, is open-minded and positive in pursuing new interpretations and developments, not least those associated with the dragoon envelopment, still not acknowledged properly in NTS interpretation. Culloden today is a different battle from how it was presented twenty years ago. History and archaeology have broken through the carapace of heritage, and new interpretations are reaching a wider and wider audience."

In my final year with the NTS (2017-18) I was seconded to support the new North West Area Manager with historical research and to re-catalogue and organise the North West and Highlands and Islands archive at Balnain House. The success of this also led to me being the Interim Office Manager at Balnain House, the area office for the organisation in the Highlands. Upon leaving the NTS I moved to Cawdor Castle to work as a tour guide, assisting with a huge increase in private guided tours and training colleagues which led to the advertisement of private tours with "Expert Guides". In 2018 I was very proud to be elected to the Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. More can be read about this here.

In 2018, Christopher Duffy, formerly Senior Lecturer, Dept of War Studies, RMA Sandhurst and Research Professor in the History of War, De Montfort University - a close friend and constant inspiration throughout my career, wrote the following:

"I first met Mr McKenzie when he joined the staff of the National Trust for Scotland’s site at Culloden Muir in 2008. He struck me even then as being one of the most promising representatives of the up-and-coming generation of historians. In March 2014 he was appointed to the extremely responsible post of Property Manager, a role wider than the title might suggest. Over the following turbulent but productive years the site attained its highest-ever levels of visitors and of visitor satisfaction, and amid many competing demands Mr McKenzie was guided by the abiding principles of history and archaeology."

I am now offering my expertise to those who can make good use of my knowledge, skill sets and a private library of over 475 titles and additional research material and resources. As a Heritage and Management Consultant, my advice is based on a wide range of expertise and experience. As a Tour Guide you are guaranteed to have a knowledgeable and flexible guide to make your adventure unforgettable. As a Researcher, Historian and Genealogical Advisor, my services will be of the highest quality available.

I am also an accomplished mountaineer with first ascents of rock and ice climbs in the Highlands, as well as being a keen guitar player and bagpiper.

 

 

Employment / Voluntary Work

2018

Cawdor Castle (Tourism) Ltd.

Seasonal Visitor Services, Historical Advisor and Expert Guide

 

2017-2018

The National Trust for Scotland, Balnain House

Interim Office Manager; North West & Countryside Archivist; Researcher

Roles included administration of Property-specific maintenance throughout the Highlands and Islands, cataloguing the entire Balnain House Archive and organising the records held on site and in external storage.

 

2014-2018

The National Trust for Scotland, Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre,
Property Manager

Management of up to 65 staff and volunteers, budget management of a £2million income and £1.2million expenditure budget at the 5* visitor attraction with c.250,000 visitors per annum. This role included planning and implementation of all commercial and conservation activities.

 

2015

Clan MacKenzie International Gathering

Tour Guide

2011-2014

The National Trust for Scotland, Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre,
Admissions and Membership Manager

Achievement of Membership and income targets and increasing visitor numbers through contact with travel trade companies.

 

2011

Historic Scotland, St Andrew’s Castle and Cathedral,
Visitor Services Assistant

 

2010-2012

Cromartie Estate, Castle Leod

Steward and Tour Guide

2010

Clan MacKenzie International Gathering

Tour Guide

2009

Clan Chattan 400th Anniversary of the 1609 Band of Union

Tour Guide

2008-2010

The National Trust for Scotland, Culloden Battlefield and Visitor Centre,
Senior Admissions and Membership Assistant

 

2006-2008

University of Dundee Archives,
Assistant Cataloguing the Glamis Muniments

Education and Professional Certificates

 

2008-2018

Internal National Trust for Scotland training courses including: The Effective Leader, Assertive Manager, Do or Delegate, Project Management, Setting Objectives, Caring for your Customers and others.

2014

Cantraybridge College certificate in Autism Awareness

2012

Institute of Occupational Safety and Health certificate in Managing Safely

GTG Training certificate in Conflict Resolution – Dealing with Difficult People

Fire Safety Training certificate in Fire Awareness in the Workplace

​2010

Evolve Training certificate in Manual Handling Skills

2004-2008

University of Dundee M.A. (Hons.) Scottish Historical Studies

Other Posts

2018-Present

Elected to the Fellowship of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

2018-Present

Author currently working on various projects to be published from 2019

2017-Present

Clan MacKenzie Charitable Trust (Castle Leod): Trustee

2017-Present

Meur Inbhir Nis: Secretary

2015

Independent Advisor to Highland Council on the Culloden Muir Conservation Area

2013-2015

On-site Advisor to Prof. Christopher Duffy and Prof. Murray Pittock (Culloden research)

2008-2013

Clan MacKenzie Society of Scotland and the U.K.: Committee Member and Historian

Curriculum Vitae Highlights

 

Contact for a consultancy quotation or to book your tour

E-mail: andrew@highlandhistorian.com

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