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.F


12 February 2020, 5.30 - 6.30pm, New Register House
The Declaration of Arbroath: then and now

Dr Alan Borthwick, Head of Medieval and Early Modern Records, National Records of Scotland
Book Online via Eventbrite

In this first of National Records of Scotland’s (NRS) series of talks marking the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath, NRS archivist and medieval specialist Dr Alan Borthwick looks at the background to the compilation of the Declaration and its subsequent history.

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.

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.

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.


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.