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.

For further information call the Reception or email:

5 November 2019, 1.30 - 2.30pm, New Register House
For Baith Plenty and Pleisure: Putting together the Story of the Gardens at Gordon Castle

Christopher Dingwall, Scotland's Garden and Landscape Heritage
Book Online via Eventbrite

Using Gordon Castle as a case study, this illustrated talk will demonstrate how estate archives can be used to help uncover the history of a garden. The story of gardening and planting at Gordon Castle, by Fochabers, goes back more than four centuries. Christopher will tell this story using a combination of estate plans, financial records, memoranda, and other documents held by the National Records of Scotland – a story which involved the relocation of the town of Fochabers. The talk will also explain how understanding the history of the eight acre walled garden at Gordon Castle has helped to inform its recent restoration from a state of neglect to become a productive garden once more.

8 November 2019, 6.00 - 7.30pm, New Register House
Book Launch: The Illustrated Declaration of Arbroath

Andrew Redmond Barr, Artist and Writer
Book Online via Eventbrite

The Declaration of Arbroath was written in 1320 by the barons of Scotland to the Pope, asking him to recognise Scotland’s independence and acknowledge Robert the Bruce as the country’s lawful king. The Declaration has probably become Scotland’s most famous historical document. Ahead of its 700-year anniversary in 2020, artist and writer Andrew Redmond Barr launches his new book, The Illustrated Declaration of Arbroath, bringing this medieval document to life in new and unexpected ways.

In this event, Barr explores the history and legacy of the Declaration, and examines the role it continues to play in modern Scottish identity.

20 November 2019, 1.00 - 2.00pm, New Register House
Archive fever? A worm's eye view of the NRS and the NRAS

Professor Viccy Coltman, History of Art, University of Edinburgh
Book Online via Eventbrite

In this illustrated talk, Professor Viccy Coltman will offer new and existing readers an introduction to using the resources of the National Records of Scotland and National Register of Archives for Scotland for the purposes of academic research. Drawing on her experience of writing a cultural history of Scotland from the mid eighteenth century to the 1830s, she will give us a ‘worm’s eye’ view of her craft that will include some discoveries, low points and ‘tricks of the trade’.

10 December 2019, 5.30 - 6.30pm, New Register House
House History - A guide to tracing the history of a Scottish house

Alison Lindsay, Head of Historical and Legal Search Rooms, National Records of Scotland
Book Online via Eventbrite

Are you interested in the history of your house? Find out how to use archives and other historical resources, including those held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS), to trace the history of a house and its inhabitants through time.

There will be time for questions at the end. 

17 December 2019, 24 Doors of Advent
Tours of New Register House and General Register House

Book Online via Eventbrite

National Records of Scotland (NRS) provides its public services in two of Scotland’s most important public buildings, General Register House and New Register House. New Register House was designed by Robert Matheson as the home of civil registration in Scotland and opened in 1861. General Register House was designed by Robert Adam and opened its doors in 1789, making it one of the oldest purpose-built archive buildings still being used for its original purpose.
As part of 24 Doors of Advent NRS will be running four tours throughout Tuesday 17th December. We will take visitors behind the scenes of the New Register House Dome, a large and striking circular chamber, over 27m (90 feet) high and consisting of five tiers of ironwork shelving and galleries, and General Register House. The tours will run at 10.00am, 12:00pm, 2:00pm and 3:00pm. Tours will last approximately 40 minutes and must be booked in advance. Please note: visitors should wear comfortable footwear and be aware that the tour route through the building is not suitable for wheelchair users or those with limited mobility.

*Due to specialist survey work, the Adam Dome is currently closed and we will not be able to include this area on the tours.

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


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.