National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Events, Talks and Visits

Events, Talks and Visits

We host a variety of events, talks and visits, including lectures on historical themes and records, introductory talks on family history, school workshops and visits by groups in further and higher education and evening classes in palaeography. The seminar facility at New Register House Dome can be booked for meetings and conferences.

Talks and visits

National Records of Scotland talks programme

All NRS talks and events are free, except for ScotlandsPeople sessions as noted, and they take place in General Register House or New Register House. Please see our location map. Places can be booked during office hours (Monday to Friday, 9.00 – 16.30) via the General Register House Reception on 0131 334 0380, or by following the 'Book Online' links below.

Please be aware, we ask visitors to register for our talks by following the 'Book Online' links below. However due to last minute cancellations there are often additional spaces available on the day. In this instance, any additional spaces are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

27 February 2020, 5.30 - 6.30pm, New Register House
Learning more about ScotlandsPeople

Iain Ferguson, ScotlandsPeople
Book Online via Eventbrite

Iain Ferguson from ScotlandsPeople will introduce the service and provide some helpful hints and tips for ancestry-hunting on the ScotlandsPeople website.

There will be time given at the end for questions.

10 March 2020, 6.00 - 7.00pm, New Register House
Re-imagining the Declaration of Arbroath

Andrew Redmond Barr, Artist and Writer
Book Online via Eventbrite

Written in 1320, the Declaration of Arbroath was a diplomatic letter asking for Scotland to be recognised as an independent kingdom. It is one of the earliest expressions of the concept of freedom and Scottish identity – and now it’s getting a make-over.
One month before the Declaration of Arbroath’s 700-year anniversary, artist and writer Andrew Redmond Barr presents his creative response to this famous Scottish document. Showcasing his new book, The Illustrated Declaration of Arbroath, Barr discusses the process of interpreting this historic letter, and makes the case for a more creative approach to Scottish history.

13 March 2020, 1.00 - 2.00pm, New Register House
The Armorial of Sir David Lyndsay of the Mount: An update on the new edition with some interesting points

Royal Celtic Society
Alex Maxwell Findlater, AIH FHSS (Fellow of the Heralidc Society of Scotland, and Academician of the International Academy of Heraldry); Organiser of the International Heralidc and Genealogical Congress Glasgow 2016

A talk in two parts. Firstly 'The Context of the Armorial', which gives the historical background, and describes the use of the document to create confidence in Europe and, of course, to set King James V firmly on the throne; but the cultural offensive was as much for other European Kings as for his lieges in Scotland.

Secondly a description of 'The Armorial', starting with mythical arms created by heralds for Prester John, the Three Kings of the Orient, and the Nine Worthies, then moving into kingly arms, Scottish royal marriages, then Dukes, Earls, Lords, Lairds, and finally a Coda of lesser folk. The last folio of the original Armorial shows the arms of Lyndsay as Lyon King of Arms; this was entered in 1542, when he became Lord Lyon King of Arms.

Tickets at door: £5 (£2 Students, Members and Senior Citizens)
For more information about the Royal Celtic Society and their other events please visit the RCS Website.

19 March 2020, 5.30 - 6.30pm, New Register House
'For glory, riches and honours: the rocky road to the Declaration of Arbroath'

Fiona Watson, Writer and Historian
Book Online via Eventbrite

The Declaration of Arbroath is one of the most iconic relics of medieval Scotland. It is also the most eloquent statement of the case for a nation's claim to freedom produced anywhere in medieval Europe. Its place in Scotland's heart is not in doubt. But why was the document produced in the first place, what was it designed to achieve and did it work? Fiona Watson will explore exactly these questions to illuminate a stirring defence of nationhood that is not entirely as it seems.

16 April 2020, 12.30-1.30pm. New Register House
Reassessing Tartan History

Dr Sally Tuckett, Lecturer, Dress and Textile Histories, University of Glasgow
Book Online via Eventbrite

The history of tartan is a complex one that touches on rebellion and loyalty, royalty and non-elites, and fashion and function. Its association with Jacobitism and its more recent use as an indicator of national identity means that it is also often ascribed with many romanticised meanings and messages, but its popularity can also be attributed to its versatility and aesthetic qualities. This talk will use the records of William Wilson & Son of Bannockburn, pre-eminent tartan manufacturers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, to explore how and why tartan became so popular in this period. 

BSL Interpreter available upon request. Please contact by 2 April 2020 if you would like this service.

20 May 2020, 5.30 - 6.30pm, New Register House
The social networks of the Declaration of Arbroath'

Dr Matthew Hammond, Research Associate, King's College London
Book Online via Eventbrite

The Declaration of Arbroath was a letter to Pope John XXII written in the name of Scotland's earls and barons. Who were the 39 noblemen who addressed the letter? Despite this show of unity in support of King Robert the Bruce, several of these men would be implicated in a plot to overthrow the king within just months of the Declaration's composition. In this lecture, Dr Matthew Hammond will apply a new methodology - social network analysis - to consider how the Declaration of Arbroath barons were connected to the king and to each other.

10 June 2020, 5:30 - 6:30pm, New Register House
Defending the Declaration – tackling misrepresentation

Dr Laura Harrison, Scottish History
Book via Eventbrite

This talk will explore how extremist groups have used medieval documents, including the Declaration of Arbroath, and historical monuments to justify their ideologies. It will explore how these historical objects are used in this context, and what can be done to counteract this misappropriation.

There will be time at the end to ask questions.

Talks and visits for groups in further and higher education

We deliver a limited number of specialised talks and workshops for groups of undergraduate and postgraduate students visiting with their tutors to investigate particular topics. Similarly, we can accommodate a small number of visits each year from local history or other specialist interest groups. Such visits are by appointment only.

To make enquiries, please contact: or telephone 0131 535 1354.

Services for Schools

Our Services for Schools is designed to support the Scottish Curriculum for Excellence and National Qualifications in the form of workshops and online resources for Scottish primary and secondary schools.

Evening Class

Archivists from the NRS run 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 takes place at General Register House.

New Register House Dome Seminar Facility

The New Register House Dome is a unique venue, purpose-built to house the Scottish birth, death and marriage records dating back to 1553. The Dome Seminar Facility can be booked for meetings and conferences.