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More of our sites are now available to pre-book in advance of their opening later this month. We are working hard to open other sites in the coming weeks

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History

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

Tuesday to Friday: 11am to 3pm

Advance booking required.

Facilities

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.

Save with an Explorer Pass

Get free entry to Scotland’s top visitor attractions with an Explorer Pass valid for 5 or 14 consecutive days.

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.