Weeding Scotland’s Courts

Every summer, a team of NRS archivists visits Sheriff Courts all over Scotland to collect historical records for preservation and storage.

Case records must be retained for decades after the cases finish for future appeals, cold case reviews and police enquiries, so it’s vital they are kept safe and secure. Centuries from now, these cases will provide an insight for research and understanding of Scottish law, culture and society.

Between May and August each year, our Court & Legal Team visits up to six of Scotland’s 39 Sheriff Courts to collect records that are 25 years old or over. This isn’t a glamorous process as the records must be removed box-by-box, and they’re stored in attics, basements, turrets and other hard-to-access places. Continue reading “Weeding Scotland’s Courts”

Improving Mortality Statistics

In January 2017, NRS adopted new software for recording mortality statistics. This software – IRIS – will help us to improve data relating to deaths from certain diseases and disorders.  It will also help to create statistics that allow for more accurate comparison with other countries, particularly with England and Wales.

When a death is registered, it’s common for a number of diseases or conditions to be recorded on the death certificate. The IRIS software translates causes of death into a code that is recognised under the World Health Organisation’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, Tenth Revision (ICD-10). Continue reading “Improving Mortality Statistics”

The Marquis of Montrose’s death and re-assembly

Marquess of MontroseOn 21 May 1650 the royalist hero James Graham, Marquess of Montrose, was publicly executed by hanging on a scaffold at the Mercat Cross in Edinburgh, and his body dismembered. A remarkable account of expenses held by National Records of Scotland throws light on how, a decade later, Montrose’s remains were reassembled with pomp and ceremony, ready for his elaborate funeral. The revealing account is one a small group of papers in the miscellaneous series (National Records of Scotland, RH9/1/38).

The former Scottish covenanting commander was captured in 1650 by his enemies and condemned to death for his treachery to the covenanting cause and his military action against them during the 1640s. Rather than facing honourable execution by beheading, the Marquess was hanged like a common criminal. He went to his death defiantly, maintaining his adherence to the Covenant. He also went stylishly, dressed in a black suit, a scarlet coat with silver trimmings, and a beaver hat. In an exceptional move designed to inspire fear and awe in the populace, his head was placed on a spike on the Edinburgh Tolbooth next to the High Kirk (St Giles), his limbs distributed to other Scottish burghs, and his torso buried near the Burghmuir loch, at the east end of the modern Meadows.  Continue reading “The Marquis of Montrose’s death and re-assembly”

Preview: Medieval Charters Exhibition

NRS archivist Dr Tristram Clarke, Head of Outreach, talks about Scribes & Royal Authority: Scotland’s Charters, 1100-1250, a free exhibition at General Register House, Edinburgh.

The exhibition, which runs from 5 April to 17 May, is a rare opportunity to see examples from two of Scotland’s most important collections of medieval charters.

You can find out more here.

Medieval Charters Exhibition

Scribes and Royal Authority: Scotland’s Charters 1100-1250

5 April – 17 May 2017

Free Exhibition, Matheson Dome, General Register House

For the first time precious examples from two of Scotland’s most important collections of medieval charters are going on show in National Records of Scotland.

1. GD_45_13_223
Charter of Thor, son of Swain for Holyrood Abbey, National Records of Scotland (GD45/13/223)

The charters from Holyrood Abbey and Melrose Abbey reveal how government developed in the period between 1100 and 1250, as part of the emergence in Western Europe of government as we recognise it today. These charters are but a tiny sample of what survives from the period and they offer a glimpse into the work of Scotland’s medieval scribes. This exhibition investigates how changes in the handwriting of the royal and monastic scribes reflect these crucial changes in charters that granted lands and rights.

Continue reading “Medieval Charters Exhibition”