HES Archives and Library

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

  • 0131 651 6872


The HES Archives began with the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) in 1908. Today, it holds more than five million items and continues to record all aspects of the historic environment in Scotland and beyond.

Recording the historic environment

The Ancient Monuments Protection Act was passed in 1882, providing the first state protection for ancient monuments in the UK. In the early 1900s, there was a call to compile a comprehensive and detailed list of all the significant monuments in Scotland to help with this new legislation.

Following a brief consultation by Sir John Sinclair, the Secretary for Scotland, King Edward VII established RCAHMS on 14 February 1908.

Since 1908, thousands of historic places have been recorded and the archive now holds around:

  • 400,000 architectural drawings, plans and maps
  • 700,000 photographic prints
  • 40,000 library books
  • journals and periodicals

Today, HES continues this work and our archive and survey teams add new records to the archive every day.

Opening times

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

Sat to Mon: Closed


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

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Learning visits

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

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