Part of Historic Environment Scotland

Traditional roof repairs

Discover the principal materials used to construct and cover historic Scottish roofs in this short course. Explore their appearance, performance, deterioration and cultural significance.



Download a prospectus for more information on the diploma and short courses.

Temp prospectus link

Study time


Self-study:45 hours


As a stand-alone short course:£1005

A detailed close up of a slate roof

Get a brief history of the wide range of traditional and innovative materials used on Scottish roofs from the medieval period to the present day.

You'll gain an overview of how roofs function as an assemblage of many elements, including dormers and chimneys.

What you'll learn

With our conservation experts, you'll learn:

  • traditional construction methods and details
  • about traditional Scottish roof coverings, including stone, slate, tile, thatch, lead, corrugated iron and other metals
  • how to identify areas most prone to decay, deterioration and mechanical failure, in cladding materials, fixings, flashings, rainwater goods and underlying timber or metal structures
  • sustainable procurement
  • the current current challenges of maintaining adequate levels of traditional roofing skills in the Scottish workforce.

By the end of this course, you'll understand how to: 

  • inspect and survey Scottish roofs
  • diagnose causes of current problems and the urgency of repairs
  • procure materials for a roofing project

Everything you learn on this course will be in the context of current principles of conservation best practice.

Topics covered

  • Roofing traditions
  • Roofing materials
  • Flashings and features
  • Properties and characteristics
  • Traditional working practices
  • Decay mechanisms
  • Repair and conservation techniques
  • Maintenance
  • Sustainability and procurement
  • Health and safety

Course content

Classes, lectures and presentations

This course is taught by national and international experts, through a mixture of lectures, hands-on experience, and site visits.

Hands-on workshop/lab activities

Roofing including lead burning, bossing and slate dressing

Potential site visits

  • Stirling old town and Castle
  • HES Estate project sites
  • Holyrood Palace Cultybraggan Camp
  • Comrie
  • Sunnybrae Cottage
  • Pitlochry
  • Highland Folk Museum
  • Craiglea quarry site
  • Logiealmond
  • Perthshire
  • Culross


Short courses are not formally assessed. Students will be awarded a certificate upon successfully completing this course. Anyone looking for a formal qualification can study our full diploma course or separate units.

What our students say