National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future



We mount occasional exhibitions in our buildings and at other locations in partnership with national collections and other bodies. We also support external exhibitors by lending documents or providing images from our extensive holdings.    


Scribes and Royal Authority: Scotland's Charters 1100-1250

5 April - 17 May 2017

Free Exhibition, Matheson Dome, General Register House

For the first time precious examples from two of Scotland’s most important collections of medieval charters are going on show in National Records of Scotland.

The charters from Holyrood Abbey and Melrose Abbey reveal how government developed in the period between 1100 and 1250, part of the emergence in Western Europe of government as we recognise it today. This exhibition investigates how changes in the handwriting of royal and monastic scribes reflect these crucial changes in charters that granted lands and rights.

This exhibition is a partnership with the University of Glasgow and is part of Models of Authority, Scottish Charters and the Emergence of Government, 1100-1250, a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. You can read more about this project and its findings at

The free exhibition will be on display in the remarkable Matheson Dome in General Register House from 5 April to 17 May 2017, Monday to Friday 09:00am-4:30pm. Closed for public holidays on 14 & 17 April and 1 May.


Past Exhibitions 

Family Portrait: The Scots - Italians 1890 - 1940

A hidden archive of Italians living in Scotland in the years before the Second World War was revealed in this exhibition through documents, photographs, objects and specially-created graphics. Created in partnership with the Consulate General of Italy in Scotland and the Italian Cultural Institute, Edinburgh, and with help from the Italo-Scottish Research Cluster (Edinburgh University), the National Library of Scotland and the Transnationalizing Modern Languages (AHRC project), the exhibition was on show in General Register House 3 December 2015 - 29 January 2016. An interactive version of the map created to complement the display can be seen here.

Safe Delivery: A History of Scottish Midwives

Midwives have performed a vital role for centuries. In ‘Safe Delivery’, we told the stories before and after the 1915 Act which established professional registration. The exhibition was on show in General Register House from 12 October until 20 November 2015. You can read the story in our online feature.

Germans in Britain

'Germans in Britain' was on show at General Register House, 2 Princes Street, Edinburgh, from 6 July until 7 August 2015, Monday - Friday 9:00 - 4:30, entry free. The exhibition was created by the Migration Museum Project and highlighted the centuries-old contribution by Germans to British life. It was being shown in Scotland for the first time at National Records of Scotland. Seventeen panels covering topics from monarchs, merchants and refugees to musicians, sportsmen and creative artists, are complemented by cases featuring original documents from the huge holdings of Scotlands' national archive. A related talk by Professor Ullrich Kockel (Professor of Culture and Economy, Heriot-Watt University) was given at NRS on 21 July.

Recording Angels - Scottish Registrars since 1855

'Recording Angels - Scottish Registrars since 1855', on show at General Register House from 19 May until 26 June 2015, told the story of the men and women responsible for Scotland's public records. 

The Kaiser's Spy in Scotland

A secret agent's spy kit went on display for the first time as part of 'The Kaiser's Spy in Scotland: Naval espionage before the Great War’ at General Register House from 14 November until 31 December 2014. You can read the story in our online feature.

Old Tom Morris's Terrible Year

The sad and fascinating tale of Scotland’s legendary golfing champions, Old Tom Morris and his son Young Tom, was revealed in a special display inspired by the Ryder Cup teeing off in Scotland this year (23 September – 31 October 2014).

Scotland's People and the First World War

To mark the centenary of the outbreak of war on 4 August 1914, National Records of Scotland presented a free archive display that highlighted some of the demographic changes that occurred before, during and after the conflict (14 August – 19 September 2014). Read the story of the Cowie family in our online feature Scotland's People and the First World War.

Loans from our collections

We consider requests from organisations wishing to borrow items from our collections for exhibition. For details visit our Conservation department's exhibitions and loans page.