Keeping History Alive: Scottish Lime Centre is Preserving Our Traditional Buildings 

As head of Bell Ingram Design, architect Iain Cram wears a number of different hats, but none so interesting as his role as a Trustee of the Scottish Lime Centre Trust.

The Scottish Lime Centre Trust (SLCT) was established in 1994 in response to the growing concern over a skills’ shortage in the field of traditional building technology.

And over the last three decades, this not-for-profit organisation has promoted the appropriate repair of traditional buildings, and the conservation and development of associated building traditions, crafts and skills through training and education.

The importance of preserving traditional building skills came into sharp focus recently for Bell Ingram Design who are key members of the team tasked with the restoration of A-Listed Braemar Castle in Aberdeenshire.

Iain explains: “Braemar Castle is a perfect example of how vision and craftmanship can give a rundown landmark a new lease of life as a visitor attraction and community resource.

“By using the traditional lime mortar process in the conservation process we are recognising the importance of Scotland’s older built environment, not just because of its heritage and cultural value, but because of the need for environmental and economic sustainability.”

Through their work on other buildings of high significance – including the Marshall Monument in Perth and the Brechin Townscape Initiative – Iain and his BID team have built up a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities that face these places as our needs and expectations evolve through time.

Iain continues: “I believe that architects accredited in conservation have an essential part to play in safeguarding our built heritage and organisations like SLCT are an essential support to integrating heritage skills in to ‘mainstream’ construction training.”

Based in Charlestown in Fife, the catalyst for the creation of the Scottish Lime Centre was rising concern over the effects of using ordinary Portland cement on historic masonry buildings.

Rosamond Artis MRICS IHBC RICS, Director of the Scottish Lime Centre Trust, explains: “Over the past 150 years or so, since the introduction of cement, the lime industry in the UK has dwindled and the cement industry boomed with cement technology developing to produce harder and stronger material. Don’t get us wrong, we think modern cement is a great product, it should just never go anywhere near a historic masonry structure!

“The increased use of cement in the construction industry resulted in the loss of knowledge and skills required to correctly and appropriately specify and use lime mortars. Through the later part of last century we increasingly saw the damage that was being caused by overly hard cement mortars, but the products, knowledge and skills were not available to transition back to the use of lime mortars, and this is where we come in.

“In 1994 our organisation was established to bridge this gap and to bring back the understanding and skill required to successfully use lime mortars. Our remit has developed over the years and still specialists in lime mortar use and technology, we have a broader scope of providing advice, guidance and training relating to all aspects of traditional building technology.”

The Scottish Lime Centre Trust runs practical courses aimed at all levels covering a wide range of traditional materials and techniques, designed to enhance craft skills and awareness. These are aimed at tradespeople and craftspeople; building supervisors and site agents; architects, engineers and surveyors; conservation officers; homeowners; students; voluntary conservation groups; estate managers; and those who just want to learn new skills.

The organisation also promotes Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through lectures, seminars, demonstrations and practical courses for architects, surveyors, conservation officers and students.

Its building advisory service offers professional and technical consultancy and advice provided directly to building owners or their appointed architect/surveyor.

The organisation even offers a Materials Analysis Service and a Sands & Aggregates Database which holds records of currently available sands and aggregates enabling the appropriate specification for use in lime mortars and ability to match both the appearance and physical properties of a historic mortar.

More information online at

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Iain Cram

Iain Cram

Tel: 01738 621 121

About: Iain is Partner in charge of Bell Ingram Design. His main role is working with clients on projects from the initial concept, through site searches, funding challenges and statutory consents. He's an experienced and talented architect with a long track record, working on a diverse range of projects from small scale residential through to large public, commercial, residential and tourism builds. Interests: Architecture, Building Surveying, Trustee of the Scottish Lime Centre, a highly respected historic building skills training centre.

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    Article posted on 12/09/2022

    The business of carbon net zero

    There’s no doubt that climate change and nature decline are the big buzzwords within the UK’s rural land sector as both Holyrood and Westminster push to meet their Carbon Net Zero targets by 2045 and 2050 respectively.

    How we address these issues is placing new demands on the landowners and land managers who, as custodians of the landscape, must find a balance between securing the natural environment for future generations while supporting the multiple objectives the land must meet.

    While the growing number of government targets has opened up new opportunities for the land-based economy, the application of carbon and ecosystem investment and natural capital concepts is still in its infancy and further complicated by different legislation, aims and targets both sides of the border.

    At Bell Ingram we believe that a practical land management strategy is the key to navigating this fast-developing landscape and unlocking associated opportunities.

    Woodland Carbon

    Carbon in forestry is the hot topic at the moment. Not only does planting trees help to combat global warming by absorbing carbon dioxide, but it has the potential to generate a significant additional income for landowners.

    In essence, this is because Woodland Carbon (and Peatland) is tradable and has a value. Carbon sold when trees are planted (or Peatland restored) can provide landowners with additional income. And verified carbon can be used by business to offset their UK carbon emissions.

    The Woodland Carbon Code (WCC), which is administered by Scottish Forestry, is the quality assurance standard for woodland creation projects in the UK and generates independently verified carbon units. Backed by government, the forest industry and carbon market experts, the Code is unique in providing woodland carbon units right here in the UK.

    Bell Ingram has an established track record of delivering Woodland Carbon Code (WCC) projects, successfully implementing both native woodland and commercial conifer schemes ranging from a few hectares to many hundreds.

    From woodland creation through to long-term forest management and timber harvesting, our carbon team can offer a comprehensive range of environmental services and have the expertise to ensure the carbon opportunity in your new investment is developed to maximise potential.

    Peatland Restoration

    Peatland is an excellent carbon store. The hydrology of peatland, in its natural waterlogged state, prevents carbon within organic matter at the surface oxidising and being released as carbon dioxide. Restoration is crucial as degraded peatland has been contributing to rising carbon emissions.

    While woodland creation carbon work is already well established, Peatland Restoration is less advanced and although there are many schemes (and even more planned) the general belief is that there will be major changes to come in order to make this more appealing/available in the future.

    Like the Woodland Carbon Code, the Peatland Code is a voluntary certification standard designed to provide assurances to carbon market buyers that the climate benefits being sold are real, quantifiable, additional and permanent.

    The Code was developed in 2015 and is managed by the IUCN Peatland Programme. The reduction in carbon emissions by peatland restoration is quantified, validated, and verified in a similar way to the Woodland Carbon Code.

    Get in touch

    Done right, these new natural capital markets offer exciting opportunities. However, carbon funding is a fast-moving and developing area and we strongly advise both buyers and sellers of carbon to take professional advice.

    Please contact Partner and Head of Carbon Mike Thompson at Bell Ingram for more information. Tel. 01738 621 121 or email


    Article posted on 10/02/2022