National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Events, Talks and Visits

Events, Talks and Visits

Public Talks


29 August, 5.30-6.30pm, General Register House, In-person 
Gaelic Treasures of the National Records of Scotland  
Dr Martin MacGregor, Lecturer at The University of Glasgow
Book Online

In the era before 1700, the number of items in Gaelic in the National Records of Scotland is miniscule compared to those in Scotland’s other written languages. There are many more pre-1700 Gaelic manuscripts in the National Library of Scotland, but a point of contact with the scenario in the NRS is that these are not overtly legal or governmental texts, relating instead largely to literature, theology and medicine.  

This talk will engage with possible explanations for the lack of pre-1700 Gaelic items in the NRS. But its main aim is to highlight and discuss the texts which do exist: easy to overlook but worthy of attention both for their rarity and their intrinsic interest. The four texts are the 1408 Islay charter; a letter written by Sir James MacDonald of Dunivaig (Islay) in 1604; a contract for the fosterage of Tormod, third son of Sir Ruairidh Mòr MacLeod of Dunvegan in 1613, and an elegy composed for Donnnchadh Dubh (Black Duncan) Campbell of Glenorchy on his death in 1631, probably by the professional poet Niall MacEwan. 


22 July, 5.00-6.00pm, Online only 
Inside the justiciary court records: criminal law, legal sources, and the administration

Dr Stephanie Dropuljic, University of Exeter
Book Online

The records of the justiciary courts, held at the National Records of Scotland (NRS), offer a unique understanding of the court’s administrative history and its manuscript tradition. This talk will discuss important changes in the institutional history and practice of the court, as discerned from the study of the court records. Previous publications have considered the records of the justiciary court and provided transcriptions of the entries, but these have not considered the nature of the records and what the formation of those sources can tell us about the wider history of Scottish criminal justice. 

Dr Stephanie Dropuljic is a lecturer at the University of Exeter, having a completed a PhD in Law at the University of Aberdeen. Her research interests are in criminal law and evidence, particularly legal history. Dr Dropuljic is interested in the development of criminal law doctrines, gender and the law, employing interdisciplinary and comparative work in the study of criminal law and evidence. Her PhD thesis reconstructed the procedural and administrative history of Scotland’s justiciary court from 1580-1650 with special reference to actions for homicide. Dr Dropuljic has published on the role of women in raising criminal actions, elections and governance in early modern Scotland, and on the classificatory rules regarding homicide. 


Public Tour: 250th anniversary of General Register House

In-person only

11 June, 2.00-3.00pm

1 July, 11.30-12.30pm

14 August, 12.00-1.00pm
Book Online

This year, National Records of Scotland (NRS) marks the 250th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone of General Register House on the 27th June 2024. One of Scotland’s most important public buildings, General Register House, has been the home of the nation’s archives for over two centuries and continues to provide public access to Scotland’s documentary history. Designed by Robert Adam, it opened its doors in 1789. The first purpose-built, public record repository in Britain and Ireland, it has a good claim to being the oldest purpose-built archive in Europe still being used for its original function. 

To celebrate, we are offering several public tours. The history of this unique building, its place on Edinburgh Princes Street, and its continuing role as keeper of the nation’s archives, will be explained as attendees explore the striking central chamber, the Adam Dome, and are taken behind the scenes.

Tours will last approximately 40 minutes and must be booked in advance. Please note: visitors should wear comfortable footwear. We regret that the tour route through the building is not suitable for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility.


25 June, 4.00-5.00pm, General Register House, In-person event 
The foundation of General Register House in Edinburgh's first New Town - its most important building. A celebration of its 250th anniversary
Dr Anthony Lewis, Curator of Scottish History at Glasgow Life
Book Online

Dr Anthony Lewis will give a review of General Register House's history in the first New Town where its foundation, architect and builders will be discussed to illustrate why its location, design and influence has been so profound on Edinburgh and Scotland.





Evening Class

Scottish Handwriting 1500-1700

Each year, NRS runs evening classes in palaeography on behalf of the University of Edinburgh's Office of Lifelong Learning. This practical course in Scottish Handwriting covering the period 1500-1700 is taught by archivists from NRS at General Register House in Edinburgh. The course runs for 10 weeks on Tuesday evenings from September with a second 10 week term starting in the following January. More information can be found on the University of Edinburgh's Short Courses pages, where you can also enrol onto the course.

Classes start at 5.30pm to 7.00pm on Tuesday 16 January 2024 at General Register House, Princes Street, Edinburgh. For more information on the course, please contact: [email protected]


National Records of Scotland’s (NRS) Outreach and Learning department supports learning for all age groups. Our Services for Schools are designed to support the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and National Qualifications. NRS staff can also provide specialist talks to interested groups.

If you have any enquiries about our services, please contact: [email protected].

Past NRS talks

If you have missed one of our recent public talks, many can be viewed on the NRS YouTube channel