Dr Murray with Bruno and Tim
Dr Athol Murray (Centre) with Bruno Longmore & Tim Ellis

At National Records of Scotland, we’re fortunate to have many experienced and long-serving members of staff but none can equal the record set by Dr Athol Murray. 

Dr Murray started working at what was then the Scottish Record Office in November 1953, at the age of 23. He still works with us now, albeit one day a week and on a voluntary basis. Today marks an amazing 64 years of continuous service, a feat that’s unlikely to be repeated and which we believe may be the longest association with archives in the United Kingdom.  

To recognise Dr Murray’s service, we have named our new meeting space at West Register House the Athol Murray Suite, in his honour.  On Tuesday at West Register House, where he still works, Dr Murray cut a ribbon in front of current and retired colleagues to officially open the new meeting space.  

Dr Murray was Keeper of the Records of Scotland between 1985-90. His career was notable for his scholarship and his dedication to the office of Keeper. He oversaw significant changes which laid the foundation for many key future developments, including improvements to local archive services and the construction of Thomas Thomson House.

He retired in December 1990 after 37 years of service but this did not mark an end to his work with the archives. He works tirelessly as a volunteer cataloguer on the records of the Scottish Exchequer, a subject on which he is an acknowledged expert. 

Dr Athol Murray with former keepers
Dr Murray (right) pictured in 2001 with two former Keepers of the Records of Scotland and one former Lord Clerk Register (see below)


Dr Murray with retired members of staff
Dr Murray with former colleagues, now retired (see below)

Dr Murray’s research has made a key contribution to furthering the wider study of Scottish history, and he estimates that he will require no more than a further thirty years to complete his current project!

Now in what he called his “anecdotage”, Dr Murray shared some fond memories of working at West Register House and other buildings.  He said that since retirement, he had enjoyed coming back to the same welcoming atmosphere to work as a volunteer.  He also remarked that it was an honour to join the ranks of former keepers who had buildings and facilities named for them, including Thomas Thomson and William Robertson, while still being alive!

Tim Ellis, Keeper of the Records of Scotland, and Chief Executive of NRS said:

“Dr Murray’s decades of work, and his dedication to the records of Scotland and the organisation which is now NRS, are unrivalled.

“On behalf of everyone at NRS, I congratulate him on this anniversary and thank him for his long and dedicated service.”

In 2013, Dr Murray was interviewed for Broadsheet, the magazine of the Scottish Council on Archives, about his life and work.  You can find the interview here.

Pictured, from L to R:
(Middle image) George MacKenzie (Keeper 2001-2012); The Earl of Wemyss & March KT (Lord Clerk Register); Patrick Cadell (Keeper 1991-2001) and Dr Murray (Keeper 1985-1990).
(Bottom image) Andrew Broom, former Deputy Keeper; Dr Hazel Horn, former Head of Catalouging and Secretary of the NRAS; George Barbour, former Head of Modern Records & Plans Officer; Dr Murray and Dr Frances Shaw, former Head of Government Records.

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