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 535 1314, 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:

14 March 2019, 2.00 - 3.00pm, 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.

25 March 2019, 11.00 - 12.00pm, New Register House
Shipbuilding Records in Scotland: Using Archives

Jennifer Lightbody, The Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections
Book Online via Eventbrite

As a former design engineer in the shipbuilding industry, it was inevitable that Jennifer Lightbody’s move into the archives sector would involve shipbuilding records. This talk will cover her MSc cataloguing placement at National Records of Scotland, considering shipbuilding photograph albums from the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders collection, how they are used by researchers and how they are described in the catalogue.

It will also cover her wider dissertation research on how shipbuilding records are used in archives across the country, and how her range of experiences and immersion in archives has led her to her current role.

1 April 2019, The Unbelievable Tour
Book Online via Eventbrite

Do ghosts roam in the historical search room? Were cats once used as an early form of document preservation? Join National Records of Scotland for its first Unbelievable Tour, where we invite you to spot the lies among the truths.

National Records of Scotland provides its public services in two of Scotland’s most important public buildings. 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 in its original use. New Register House was designed by Robert Matheson as the home of civil registration in Scotland and opened in 1861.

Hidden among the wealth of information provided on this tour, are five fibs waiting to be discovered. At the end of the tour we will ask if you were able to tell the fiction from the truth.

There are three tours, 11.30am, 2.00pm and 3.00pm. They will last approximately 40 minutes.

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

18 April 2019, 2.00 - 3.00pm, New Register House
What Glass has done for Edinburgh, and what Edinburgh has done for Glass

Dr Jill Turnbull
Book Online via Eventbrite

Glass is such a normal part of our lives that we take it completely for granted, but it was not always so. In the 17th century few people had windows, street lighting was virtually non-existent and glass was an expensive luxury. This talk will look at the transformation of Edinburgh, as glass became cheaper and architects and designers embraced new possibilities. The city is full of interesting glass, the functional which we barely notice as we walk around, and the decorative, including some amazing stained glass which merits a special visit. It is also home to the glass department at the Edinburgh College of Art, responsible for training many of the artists whose work we enjoy today.

There will be time given at the end for questions.

22 May 2019, 1.30 - 2.30pm, New Register House
Crime and Sexual Violence in the Inter-war Years

Louise Heren, PhD researcher, University of St Andrews
Book Online via Eventbrite

In the immediate aftermath of the Great War, British elites feared de-mobilizing soldiers – brutalized on the battlefield – might turn to violent crime. In particular, they worried that women and children might be at risk of violence. British Newspapers regularly reported sexual attacks on women, invoking images of rapacious soldiers returning to wreak havoc at home. However, the statistics do not support this contemporary fear. Instead they reveal a more worrying type of crime: sexual assault against female minors.

In this talk, Louise presents findings from her extensive research of sexual criminal cases tried at the High Court of Justiciary between 1918 and 1930. Louise will describe the circumstances of the crimes committed, the social status of the perpetrators and victims, and contemporary attitudes towards them. Most importantly, she will explore the loci of sexual crime and the victims’ ages.

Her findings show that sexual attacks were not a response to the immediate stresses of war - nor were most of them committed against adult women.

Louise’s research contains some disturbing narratives, essential to understanding the context of sexual violence in 1920s Scotland.

23 May 2019, 2.00 - 3.00pm, 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.

17 June 2019, 1.00 - 2.00pm, New Register House
Go Forth! Development of Digital Learning Resources: From Archival Images to Cutting Edge Laser Scans
Dr Lyn Wilson, Digital Documentation Manager and Dr Miles Oglethorpe, Head of Industrial Heritage. Historic Environment Scotland
Book Online via Eventbrite

Go Forth! is a major new educational resource for Scottish schools. Informed by the recently completed 3D digital documentation of the three Forth Bridges and research into archival records, this resource supports the teaching of STEM subjects through the Curriculum for Excellence.

Cutting-edge 3D laser scanning and recording of the three bridges started in 2013, which led to the creation of complete digital models, generating a unique learning resource designed to inspire learners and encourage interest in the bridges themselves, and in science and technology subjects.

Archival images from National Records of Scotland's Forth Bridge collection were invaluable in the development of these resources. Working with assistance from digital learning expertise from Dundee City Council, teaching packages which incorporate lesson packs, practical resources and a digital game were created. All are available, free of charge, through the GLOW network. Further information about the project is available here.

This talk will outline the stages in the project, and highlight the importance of archival resources in its development.

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.