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Byline: Craig McQueen

ALL over Scotland there are buildings, places and spaces that are alive with heritage, culture and history.

But while many of them can be visited at any time, there are others where it's a lot more difficult to get a look behind the scenes.

That's why Doors Open Days offer a perfect chance to find out more about some of Scotland's national treasures.

The aim of the annual event is to open up sites for free that are normally closed to the public or which charge an admission fee.

More than 250,000 visits are regularly made to 900 Doors Open Days sites from the Borders to the Shetland Isles.

Co-ordinated nationally by the Scottish Civic Trust with support from Historic Scotland and EventScotland, Doors Open Days this year mark their 21st birthday, having begun in Glasgow and Ayr in 1990 during the European City of Culture celebrations.

The occasion will be marked throughout September with locations across the country throwing their doors open, from castles and churches to houses, offices, factories and other more unusual buildings.

Abigail Daly, outreach projects co-ordinator for the Scottish Civic Trust, said: "It is really impressive to think that this event has been running now for 21 years.

"The public's enthusiasm for the event is remarkable and we're delighted that, thanks to support from EventScotland, tourists are also seeing Scotland's hidden architecture."

The event runs in tandem with Scottish Archaeology Month, which is co-ordinated by Archaeology Scotland, linking in with European Heritage Days when millions of people in 50 countries explore a wide range of sites.

For Doors Open Days in Scotland, civic societies, local authorities, heritage and building preservation trusts act as area co-ordinators, and are supported by many volunteers.

The economic impact of the event is similarly impressive with more than pounds 25million generated for the Scottish economy over the event's lifetime.

Highlights of this year's programme include the Scott's and Quaker Oats factory near Cupar in Fife once again opening its doors on Sunday September 4. It allows visitors to see how two of Scotland's most famous food brands are made. …