Guides

Maps and plans

Search maps and plans

Search Maps and Plans

About the Maps and Plans collection
Maps and Plans terminology
How to search Maps and Plans
How to improve your search results
Other places to look

About the Maps and Plans collection

Image of an architectural drawing of Officers' Quarters, Inverness Brigade Depot, 23 Dec 1876 (National Records of Scotland, RHP41374)

The Register House Plans series (RHP) is an artificial collection containing over 170,000 maps, plans, architectural and engineering drawings.

Since the 1960s most plans have been removed from their parent collections and added to the RHP series, so you will find items from a wide variety of sources within this collection. The maps and plans can come from Government Records, Court Papers, Church Records, Private Family collections, Records of Businesses and Industries, and a huge variety of other places.

The plans date from the 16th century to the present day and contain estate plans, railway plans and technical drawings, architectural drawings, locus of crime plans, and many, many, more.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) holds the largest known collection of original maps and plans of Scotland. Where copyright, conservation, and ownership restrictions permit, we will be adding more images of items from the collection to this website over time.

Visit the NRS website to find out more about the Maps and Plans collection – including information on how to access plans not available on this website.

Maps and Plans terminology

You may find some of the terms used in the descriptions of our maps and plans to be unfamiliar.  You may find the glossary of cartographic terms for the Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection on the University of Texas website useful in helping you to understand some of the technical terms.

You may also wish to consult our guides on weights and measures and on property ownership, renting and occupancy for more information on terminology used.

How to search Maps and Plans

You can undertake a search on the Maps and Plans search page using any combination of the searches detailed below.

‘Search for’ box

The ‘Search for’ box allows you to search for words, or phrases, which appear in the titles or descriptions of items included in our online maps and plans collection.

Using the ‘Search for’ box you can search for:

  • any words – returning results which have one or more of the words you have searched for

or

  • all words – returning results which have all of the words you have  searched for

or

  • phrase – returning results where all the words you have entered appear  together as you have entered them

You can also enter wildcards.

Reference search

The Reference search allows you to look for specific items from our collections by their unique reference number. Maps and Plans displayed on this website usually start with the three letters ‘RHP’ followed by a numerical value.

There are two search options available for a Reference search. These are:

  • Exact references only – returning results which exactly match what you  have entered

or

  • References that begin with – returning results with reference numbers  which begin with the numbers that you have entered

You can use the NRS online catalogue to identify reference numbers from our collection. However, do remember that not everything you find in our catalogue will be available to view here.

Year Range search

The Year Range search boxes can be used to limit your current search to a specific date range. These fields will not accept dates earlier than 1500 or later than the current year. You can enter any years between these dates to restrict the search to this time period.

Items to which we have been able to assign no known date will be returned in all searches.  It is worth familiarising yourself with the way in which dates are used in the NRS catalogue.

County and Parish search

The County and Parish dropdown boxes allow you to select a specific geographical area of Scotland. Selecting a county will limit the parish dropdown list to only those parishes within that county.

Parishes and counties displayed are based on the pre-1975 boundary divisions of Scotland.

If you do not see a parish displayed in the dropdown box then it means that there are no plans on this website for this parish.  However, we are adding new material frequently, so do check back soon if you don’t find a relevant item today.

How to improve your search results

Remember that the spelling of placenames and personal names can vary dramatically over time.  The maps and plans search allows you to use wildcards which can be a great help with finding spelling variations.

Also remember that not every placename might be recorded in the catalogue description for every map. Try a parish search and look for other places that border the area in which you are interested – it is possible that a map may cover part of your area of interest even if it concentrates upon a neighbouring one.

Remember that you can amend your search by using the ‘refine your search’ options on the left hand side of the page – for example, you may wish to restrict your search to a specific date range if you are getting too many results.

Lastly, do bear in mind that it is not just placenames that are recorded in the titles and descriptions of maps and plans from our collections. Try personal names, names of notable local features, river names, etc. You may get very different results for these different searches.

Other places to look

If you do not find what you are looking for on this website then do search the NRS online catalogue which has details of the tens of thousands of other original plans which we hold and which are not available to view online.  You can enquire about viewing such items by contacting the NRS.

ScotlandsPlaces has images of selected maps and plans from the NRS, Historic Environment Scotland, and the National Library of Scotland.

The National Library of Scotland have a vast online collection of Ordnance Survey and other County and Town plans.

Glasgow City Archives and Glasgow University Archives hold many shipbuilding plans in their collections.

Local authority archives may hold a wide variety of historic maps and plans from their own local areas.  You can find a directory providing contact information for Scottish archives and associations on the SCAN website.