Thursday, 22 October 2009

More on the ScotlandsPlaces website

More on the ScotlandsPlaces website (see ScotlandsPlaces website online)


An innovative new website is bringing together important records from two of Scotland’s most comprehensive historic archives. With its place-based search facility, users can create detailed interactive maps using global browsing technology.

ScotlandsPlaces ( will be launched tonight (Thursday, October 22) in Inverness by Culture Minister Mike Russell. A joint partnership between the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) and the National Archives of Scotland (NAS), it uses geo-mapping software developed by the University of Edinburgh.

Website users can enter a Scottish place name, county or parish to start their search before drilling down through a selection of map layers, including Ordnance Survey maps, to refine their search area. Once located, areas can be plotted on a geobrowser (such as Google Earth) with the relevant archive information pinpointed on the map. By clicking on each point, details of the archive links appear below the map search area.

NAS information includes plans, official land ownership documents, medical officer of health reports and tax rolls – which in turn can be studied in fine detail – while RCAHMS information includes place descriptions, photographs, plans and drawings of buildings and landmarks, and associated materials and archaeological information.

The setup of the ScotlandsPlaces website means that additional, place-related information can be easily included as more partners come onboard.

Launching the project website, Minister for Culture Michael Russell said:

“This innovative website draws on a wealth of information from two of Scotland’s national collections, showcasing the benefits of our public bodies working in close partnership.

“The site already hosts a vast range of information but it is just the start and I encourage other organisations from the heritage and archive sectors to join up and share their data. I am sure this unique resource will be appreciated by many as they access our nation’s rich stories of people and places over the years.”

RCAHMS education & outreach manager, Rebecca Bailey said: “This is a free public resource that will appeal to anyone with an interest in Scotland’s geography and history or in Scottish ancestry. No matter where in the world you are, this website will allow you to locate any place in Scotland and immediately view what additional archive information exists.

“As an educational resource it will add immense scope to local history projects or research into Scotland’s past. It will also have great appeal for those people trying to unlock their own histories or the stories of their communities.”

Head of NAS, George Mackenzie added: “We’re delighted to be launching this website in Homecoming year, because it will be of interest to Scots abroad as well as at home. The site brings genuine archive material about places in Scotland right to your home so you can research your past or plan future trips. The information in ScotlandsPlaces is official, authentic and permanent.”

Importantly, ScotlandsPlaces draws on live data so that as new information is added to the digitised collections of either RCAHMS or the NAS, it will be accessible via the website.

The next phase of the project will bring in more partners and data to the site. ScotlandsPlaces project manager, Ashley Beamer said: “The technology we are using for ScotlandsPlaces is based on making information as accessible as possible. RCAHMS and the other partners uphold this principle by using ‘open source’ technology wherever possible, which means that our innovations can be used by others who are also interested in public access and web technology.”

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