Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Online Tuition in the Palaeography of Scottish Documents 1500-1750

The primary purpose of this site is to provide online tuition in palaeography (reading old handwriting) in the context of early modern Scottish historical documents. It is aimed mainly at those whose research involves reading Scottish historical records written in the period 1500-1750.

There are three key elements of successful palaeography in this period:

Studying secretary hand (a form of handwriting common in Western Europe in the period), and other characteristics of handwritten records, such as methods of abbreviating handwriting.
Keeping up reading speed through regular practice.
Having help at hand for difficult words, such as dictionaries of the Scots, English and Latin languages, gazetteers, and specialist glossaries.
Whatever your level of palaeographical ability, our interactive tutorials and weekly posers and tips will help you study the characteristics of Scottish handwriting and improve or maintain your reading speed. Regular use of our coaching manual should develop your technique and may help you overcome specific problems when you ‘get stuck’ while reading a document. There are also links to other online palaeography websites, and details of dictionaries, glossaries and other useful publications. is a product of the Scottish Archive Network (SCAN).

More information about the Scottish Archive Network can be found in the ‘About SCAN’ section.

Content for Scottish has been provided by Scottish archives and archivists, and by SCAN project staff. The website has been designed by Multimedia Incorporated, Glasgow, along with Gary Young and Robin Urquhart from the SCAN project team.


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