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:

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.

7 June 2019, 11.00 - 12.00pm, New Register House
Glasgow's ties with slavery - Discovering history at the National Records of Scotland

Dr Anthony Lewis, Curator of Scottish History, Glasgow Museums
Book Online via Eventbrite

Dr Lewis will introduce his research on Glasgow and its links to transatlantic slavery using the archives held by the National Records of Scotland (NRS). These archives, held at General Register House and Thomas Thomson House, as well as digital sources on ScotlandsPlaces help to inform the Glasgow Museum Collections he curates.

In this talk, individual cases will be discussed that indicate the realities of slavery and service, both for the enslaved people being moved into colonial plantations or domestic service in Glasgow, and for those enriched Glasgowegian businessmen who traded people for profit.

The importance of General Register House and the NRS archives in revealing these stories will be the main focus of the talk. Time will be 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.

20 September 2019, 1.30 - 2.30pm, New Register House
Caring for your Family Papers

Gloria Conti and Andy McFarlane, Conservators, National Records of Scotland
Book Online via Eventbrite

Family Papers – letters, books, photographs – are often our most precious possession, but by their very nature they are fragile and easily damaged.

National Records of Scotland Conservators Andy McFarlane and Gloria Conti will be giving a talk on how to care for your family papers, ranging from storage solutions to safe display and handling.

After an introductory talk, the session will be dedicated to questions from the public who are encouraged to bring along items from their own family archives to spark discussion and receive general advice on how to look after them. Sample records and storing material will also be on display.

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.

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’.


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.