Archives and Research


Our industrial research uncovers, interprets and explains past and present industry in Scotland.

1 Overview

Our industrial research work uncovers, interprets and explains industries past and present in Scotland.

Our research covers:

  • the development of industry in Scotland
  • the industrial processes involved in creating a final product
  • all scales of industry, from cottage industries to large-scale manufacturing
  • both typical manufacturing and rare and unique examples of industry
  • active industrial sites and ones that have ceased to exist

We conduct both desk-based archival research and site-based fieldwork. Our work forms the basis of talks to lifelong learners, journal papers, posters at academic conferences, and subject-specific publications.

2 Teams

Industrial Survey Team

Area of focus: Surveying, recording and analysing Scotland’s industrial archaeology.

We study active industries, those that are under threat of closure and sites where operations ceased a long time ago.

We work collaboratively with other institutions across Scotland, the UK and beyond. Our staff include industrial archaeologists, architectural historians, surveyors, illustrators and photographers.

3 Partnerships and funding

A lot of our funding comes from Historic Environment Scotland’s core budget. We also explore other avenues for research partnerships and funding.               

We’re a partner in the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Partnership consortium.

4 Projects

AHRC doctoral work

We’re co-supervising a student examining the nuclear industry at Dounreay, Caithness and its impact on the development of Thurso and the surrounding area.

The research offers an opportunity to examine the extensive post-1945 papers of the Sinclair Macdonald and Son architectural practice, which we acquired in 2005.

The student is a recipient of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Award. As the main partner in the award scheme, we applied for the student’s funding and identified the topic of research. We’re co-supervising the student’s work, along with the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Papermaking and creameries 

We’ve worked collaboratively with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales to compare the development of the papermaking industry and creameries in Scotland and Wales.

The results will be made available both on Canmore and its Welsh counterpart Coflein.

Read our work on the papermaking industry now.

Research techniques

We undertake both desk-based research and site visits.

Our research draws on a range of sources, including:

Finished research can involve text, photography, process diagrams, drawn plans, scan data or a combination of these.

5 Publications and conferences

Our staff have held chair and committee roles with the Scottish Transport and Industry Collections Knowledge network, and have organised and spoken at national conferences. The team has also represented Historic Environment Scotland at The International Committee for the Conservation of the Industrial Heritage.

Our work has featured in our own publications as well as in journals including Industrial Archaeology Review.


Malaws, B. and McDonald, M., ‘The Last Mill on the Aden: Guardbridge Paper Mill’, Industrial Archaeology Review, 31(2), (November 2009), 116–133.

Malaws, B. and McDonald, M., ‘Creameries of Wales’ (pending publication).

McDonald, M., Muyelle, J. and Oglethorpe, M.K., ‘Recording and Protecting Glasgow’s Water Supply’ in P. Belford, M. Palmer and R. White (eds.) Footprints of Industry, British Archaeological Reports (2011).

McDonald, M. and Oglethorpe, M.K., ‘Recording and Documention’ in J. Douet (ed.) Industrial Heritage Re-tooled: The TICCIH Guide to Industrial Heritage, (2012), 55–69.

Oglethorpe, M.K., Scottish Collieries, Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (2008).

Watson, M., The Industrial Archaeology of Dundee, Scottish Industrial Heritage Society (2013).