A policeman who has collected more than 2,000 old bricks has been given a major heritage award for his "under-appreciated" work.

Mark Cranston started his unusual collection when his dad recovered a number of bricks from building sites while working as a contractor.

And now the 53-year-old copper spends his spare time rummaging around derelict industrial sites to recover bricks identified as Scottish by their brickmarks.

Mr  Cranston has travelled all over the country in his pursuit to build a national database of all the bricks ever manufactured in the country.

And he records his findings on the Scottish Brick History website.

This initiative has seen him discover more about the industry and its manufacturers, which were once world renowned for the quality and diversity of their bricks, in particular the refractories.

But Mr Cranston, from Jedburgh in the Scottish Borders, says he is over the moon after receiving an award for his work.

He was crowned the winner of the Investigating and Recording category at the Scottish Heritage Angel Awards on Tuesday night. 

He said: "It's a great honour. I'm chuffed to bits. It's just brilliant news.

"It's great to see the simple brick has been acknowledged for its rightful place in Scottish history.

"I rely heavily on other people helping out to donate bricks or tip me off on some bricks so this award is for everyone who has helped me.

"The project itself is ongoing and I hope to keep doing this for many years to come. Hopefully, the award can help people who are not aware of it come forward and help out.

"Brickmaking is a much forgotten part of Scotland's industrial and social history and all efforts should be made to preserve what we can of what is left.

"It's not just about collecting bricks but all the stories that go with each individual brick help to build a picture of history in the country.

"Scottish bricks turn up all over the world and Scotland has helped build the industrial revolution across the globe."

Mr Cranston has even been contacted by archaeologists who found bricks on shipwrecks off the coasts of Australia, Russia and South America.

He will try to put an age on the date of the bricks in a bid to identify the shipwrecks themselves.

He also found that a selling point for houses based in frosty Quebec in the 1930s and 40s was that they were made from "Scotch firebricks".

They were very frost-resistant and capable of withstanding severe cold without flaking or cracking like ordinary bricks.

The earliest marked brick he has is from 1846 but estimates that there could be bricks stretching back even earlier than that.

He added: "It's pure madness. I've always been interested in Scottish history and bricks are a good way of looking at our industrial past.

"I started out with only six bricks when I moved house a few years ago and thought there were only a few hundred but after 2,000 bricks I'm thinking it could be endless.

"It's a way of knitting all the lines of history and industry together."

Mr Cranston was one of more than 50 nominations to go through to the finals, funded by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

The ceremony was held at the Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh on Tuesday night.

Andrew Lloyd Webber, whose charity, the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation, established the awards, said: "The awards highlight what can be achieved when local people get involved in rescuing and restoring heritage throughout Scotland - from Dumfries to Orkney to Bo'ness.

"Huge congratulations to the winners, and indeed to all who were shortlisted, not only for the work they do but for being outstanding ambassadors for heritage.

"I urge everyone to use the light we shine on these projects and their unsung heroes to unlock further funding and to inspire others to get involved."

The Caring and Protecting category was won by Neil Kermode and the Orkney Heritage Society for their work to restore the HMS Hampshire, or 'Kitchener' memorial on Orkney.

The Friends of Kinneil scooped the award for best project in the Sharing and Celebrating category, in recognition of the outstanding work they do in championing the heritage of Kinneil House, museum, estate and nature reserve in Bo'ness.

The Young Heritage Angel Award was won by the 'Dig TV' young volunteer group, who designed and operated television content.

They focused on a major archaeological excavation in the Black Loch of Myrton, near Whithorn.

The Lifetime Contribution to the Historic Environment award was presented to Brian Watters for his work relating to the Carron Iron Works in Falkirk.

The award is a recognition for Brian's work which he has been researching for more than 30 years.