HES Archives and Library

  • John Sinclair House, 16 Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh EH8 9NX

  • 0131 651 6872


Step inside the HES Archives and Library in Edinburgh and explore Scotland's past through over five million historic photographs, drawings and more.

Our extensive archive in Edinburgh spans a whole range of buildings, archaeological monuments and industrial and maritime sites, giving unparalleled insight into Scotland’s stories.

The archives – compiled and managed by HES – first began in 1908. Today, we hold more than five million items and continue to record all aspects of the historic environment.

What to see and do

  • Discover information about Scotland's places through documents and books
  • Browse architects’ drawings, historic photographs or excavation archives
  • Trace our changing landscape through historic and modern maps and photographs
  • Consult the National Collection of Aerial Photography - advance bookings are required
  • Access online resources such as Canmore and Scran 

Unable to visit in person?

If you are unable to visit us in person, our enquiries and digitisation services are available to help you access the collections.

Enquiries can be made by email, and staff will search the archives on your behalf. Please note staff cannot carry out research on your behalf.

Digitisation and licensing requests can be made by emailing archives@hes.scot, or through Canmore.

Archives House project

This is an exciting project, which will see the HES archive move to a building in Bonnyrigg that is being converted into a world-class facility. A new reading room will also be created in Longmore House. Access to John Sinclair House will continue as normal.

Find out more about the project

Opening times

Tues to Fri: 10am to 4pm, advance booking required.

Sat to Mon: Closed


Download our visitor app

Discover more on the go – the Historic Scotland app lets you find out about Scotland’s most iconic places wherever you are.

Plan your visit

More than 20 of our sites are now open. Please book your tickets in advance.

Become a member

Join Historic Scotland to visit our properties free of charge for a full year and support our work at the same time.

Hire a site for filming

Use one of our fantastic locations on your next shoot for an awe-inspiring backdrop to your work.

Learning visits

Our 300+ historic places serve as creative inspiration for all sorts of learning activities – and for learners of all ages.

Search our events

See the past brought to life by the imaginative year-round programme of events at our properties.