National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Events, Talks and Visits

Events, Talks and Visits

Public Talks

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
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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.


12 June, 5.00-6.00pm, General Register House, In-person event 
‘Before Adam: the origins of Register House’
Dr Tristram Clarke
Book Online

The foundation stone of General Register House in Edinburgh was laid on 27th June 1774. Standing at the junction of Princes Street and the North Bridge, Robert Adam’s neoclassical masterpiece is a familiar Edinburgh landmark. Yet it was not always destined to be built on this site, or even in the New Town. The 250th anniversary of its foundation provides a good moment to re-examine how the Register House came to stand where it does. The story of how and why a modern home for Scotland's national archives was created is closely connected to the birth of Edinburgh’s New Town, and contains some surprising twists along the way.



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