National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) Web Continuity Service

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) Web Continuity Service

Welcome to the NRS Web Continuity Service (the Service) information page. This Service enables NRS to archive the websites of our stakeholder bodies. Archived content is preserved and made freely available to all online users in the NRS Web Archive. The Service also offers the opportunity for NRS stakeholder bodies to connect their live website with the NRS Web Archive, to help preserve the chain of their online information via ‘web continuity’.

On this page you will find guidance and links to further information on the processes involved in this Service, the scope of the NRS Web Archive, our Service’s aims, tips and advice on using the NRS Web Archive, and a glossary of terms.

Web Archiving and Web Continuity

The Service is based upon the technical process of web archiving: we use a web crawler for this. Our crawler visits and explores a selected website via its hyperlinks - much like a human user would - and copies web content as it does so. Web archiving is simply defined as capturing content that has been made available via the Web; permanently preserving this as archived content, and making this accessible to users.

The Service builds on this web archiving working model. It provides website owners with the option to enable a redirection service on their website(s) that will seamlessly take users from missing pages on their live site(s) into the NRS Web Archive, where a search for an archived version of the missing page will be made - and served if found. This means users see many fewer ‘404 page not found’ error messages when visiting these live sites.

NRS has entered into a contract with Internet Memory Research to carry out the technical functionalities of the Web Continuity Service. For further information refer to our Web Continuity Service Model. (237 KB PDF)

Scope of the NRS Web Archive

Copies, or ‘instances’, of websites which are archived by the NRS Web Continuity Service are accessible within the NRS Web Archive. Each instance reflects what the website looked like on the day it was captured.

The NRS Web Archive is comprised of websites created and owned by organisations which fall within NRS’s statutory and strategic collecting remit, including:

  • the Scottish Government;
  • the Scottish Parliament;
  • Scottish public authorities who transfer records to NRS;
  • the Scottish Courts;
  • Scottish Public Inquiries;
  • private organisations who deposit archival records with NRS.

These organisations own a large number of websites, so NRS prioritises which sites we archive and at what frequency. Our selection list and selection criteria can be found in our Selection Policy  (106 KB PDF). New instances of websites, will be captured and added into the NRS Web Archive on a regular basis.

Why is NRS doing this?

NRS recognises that the Scottish Government has embraced websites as the primary means for sharing public information and delivering public services. We regard these types of websites forming part of the public record, and it is our statutory duty to collect, preserve and make them publicly accessible on a permanent basis. The Service delivers this duty, as well as offering support and guidance to website owners on accessible site design.

Furthermore, archiving and providing permanent access via web continuity can help preserve the chain of online official information and support user experience. This assists the Scottish Government in its drive for greater public accountability, transparency, and business efficiency, as well as creating a new open online resource for the study of Scotland.

NRS also holds many archival collections from private owners, as these contain much that is vital to understanding the history of Scotland, and it is self evident that they must be preserved. We hope to maintain this approach by archiving the websites of private owners who have an existing relationship with NRS where possible, for example the Church of Scotland, Carnegie Trust, and landed estates.

For more details on our Service’s intended benefits, refer to our Web Continuity Service Model. (237 KB PDF)

Searching and accessing the NRS Web Archivebutton - access the NRS Web Archive

To access the NRS Web Archive, click on the button. 


You can browse through the A-Z index to find the website you wish to view, or alternatively use the search bar at the top of the page to search for the website (or a particular page) by its URL. You can also use this search bar to look for content in the NRS Web Archive using a full text search (coming soon).

Clicking on any of the archived website titles will take you into the ‘Index’ page for that site. The Index page lists the archived instances for that particular website, arranged by date of capture by our Service. A link to the ‘live’ website is also included. This is useful for obtaining up-to-date contact information on the website owner, as details on archived content may no longer be accurate. Please note that the live site may no longer exist, or may not have been updated since it was last archived.

Clicking on any date on the Index page will take you into the archived instance of the website captured on that date. You can then browse through the site as if it were ‘live’. Archived content is distinguishable by a banner around the page, which includes the date and time of when the website was captured. The URL will also begin with the prefix, , followed by the date and time of capture, and the original URL. This makes it easy to differentiate between archived and live content.

A handy way to search the NRS Web Archive is to use our browse index (also known as the * index). Simply enter the prefix,*/, followed by the URL you are looking for into your browser’s address bar to see all captured instances of the content available at that URL, arranged by date. E.g. entering*/http:/ into a browser’s address bar will display all archived instances of that NRS has archived.

Technical Limitations and Missing Content in the NRS Web Archive

Users to the NRS Web Archive should bear in mind that technical limitations and scoping rules mean that some parts of selected websites may not be archived.

NRS dedicates resource to review and quality assess archived content to a high standard, so that it is as complete as possible. Refer to our Service Model (237 KB PDF) for more details.

The continuing evolution and complexity of web technology – particularly websites which use a lot of dynamic content -  makes web archiving challenging, and some content on websites will not be captured by our Service.

When viewing archived content, users may find that in-built navigational tools such as drop-down menus, interactive maps and tick boxes may not work correctly. Content which is held on a source external to the website, such as a database or embedded social media feeds, are unlikely to be captured, and interactive and animated features may not display correctly. Furthermore, the underlying search functionality that exists on the live website will not work as our crawler cannot capture this.

NRS will only capture web content which is freely available in the public domain. This therefore does not include content which resides behind user registration portals, firewalls, and password-protected areas, nor content which is known to contain personal or sensitive information. External links to websites beyond the selected website will generally not be captured.

Copyright and Re-use

Ownership and copyright of websites in the NRS Web Archive remain the responsibility of website owners. The website may also be subject to publicity rights, privacy rights, or other legal interests.

If a user wishes to use or cite any content from the NRS Web Archive for reproduction, distribution, or other use, they should adhere to the terms and conditions as detailed within the archived website. In addition, they should include reference to the NRS Web Archive in their citations as follows: “Archived in the NRS Web Archive at”. 


NRS operates a takedown function that covers the contents of the NRS Web Archive: this is explained in our Records Reclosure and Takedown Policy. In accordance with this policy, once a written request for takedown is received, the relevant record from the NRS Web Archive will be temporarily withdrawn from public access until the request can be reviewed by the NRS Reclosure Panel. NRS will post details of pages which have been permanently taken down under the Records Reclosure and Takedown Policy.

The NRS Web Continuity Service can be emailed on

NRS Web Continuity Service Model (237 KB PDF)

Selection Policy for the NRS Web Continuity Service (107 KB PDF)

Glossary of terms on web archiving and web continuity (122 KB PDF)

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