Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Maps and plans at “The National Archives of Scotland”

The National Library of Scotland has one of the largest collections of Maps, architectural and technical drawings in the country. Most date from 1750 or later as cartography in Scotland only really began in the 18th century under the movement to improve agriculture and landowners employed surveyors.

Most of the collection come from Government, Parliament, Nationalised Industries, the Courts, Churches, Private organisations and families. Most of the manuscript plans are rare and unique while many of the engraved and lithographed plans have only survived in limited numbers.

As Records (Maps and Plans) require specialised storage conditions items from other related Record Groups are listed as Register House Plans (RHP’s) and cross-referenced to the parent series.

The Plans series may be searched on the NAS Online Public Access Catalogue. The Catalogue descriptions include location, surveyor, engineer or architect as well as subject, date,and origin of the plan. For topographical and architectural plans, the “placename” search option allows searches to be restricted to the civil parish whose boundaries will often differ from those of the city,town or settlement of the same name. Scottish plans are located by civil parish and county according to the boundaries that existed prior to the reorganisation of local government in 1975. This means that cities and towns may fall into a number of civil parishes all of which would need to be searched independently. Other plans of the British Isles are searched for similarly but by country to country rather then by country and civil parish. Foreign are located by country and continent.

Detailed descriptions of the first 5000 entries have been published in the “Descriptive list of Plans in the Scottish Record Office” (4 vols) which are on sale in both General Register Office and West Register Office.

The National Archives also holds Shipbuilding plans, those relating to the West of Scotland Shipbuilders are in the custody of the Glasgow City Archives and Glasgow University.

The National Archives of Scotland can be contacted at HM Register House, Princes Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3YY.

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