Searching by place
Many of our records can be searched by place, either by using drop-down lists of parishes, districts, burghs or courts, or via a free-text search facility. This guide tells you how to navigate different record sets using these search functions.
Search records on Virtual Volumes by place
Search for maps and plans by place
Searching indexed records by place
Searching records on Virtual Volumes by place
Records made available through the Virtual Volumes system have not been indexed by personal name as a rule, but you can search for records relating to a specific place (a parish, synod, presbytery, county, city, island or legal jurisdiction). Variant names for places are included but will link to the main place entry in each case. Examples of valid searches are ‘Biggar’, ‘Nairn’ and ‘Lanark County’. You can filter your results by different types of places on the results page. You can also browse a list of places that are included in the place search gazetteer. Click here for detailed guidance on using Virtual Volumes.
Searching for maps and plans by place
You can search a selection of maps, plans and architectural drawings from National Records of Scotland's collections in this site. When searching you can select from drop down lists of parishes and counties, and also by date range and free text search.
Records are periodically added to this section of the site, so if you don't find what you’re looking for here, please check back another time. Alternatively, you can search the National Records of Scotland online catalogue and see descriptions for the whole maps and plans collection.
Searching indexed records by place
Most of the records in the site are indexed by personal name but each also allows a certain amount of searching by place name.
Statutory registers of births, deaths and marriages
When searching the statutory registers of births, deaths, marriages, you can select a county or city from a drop-down list to narrow down your results to include only entries registered in a particular area. Selecting a county or city will also give you a list of the districts that make up that area, should you wish to narrow down your search further. If you already know the precise district in which the event of interest was registered, you can select it from the 'District' list directly without needing to specify the county or city first.
Other statutory registers
You can search the statutory register of civil partnerships by selecting counties, cities or districts in the same way as the registers of births, deaths and marriages. The statutory registers of divorces and dissolutions are only available to search using the name of either party.
When searching church registers of baptisms or births, marriages, and burials or deaths, you can select a county or city from a drop-down list to restrict your results to those from a particular area of the country. Selecting a county or city will give you a list of the parishes or congregations within that county or city, allowing you to narrow down your results further if you wish. If you already know the specific parish or congregation in which your event of interest is likely to have been registered, you may select it from the 'Parish/congregation' list directly without needing to select a county or city first.
When searching census returns, you can select a county or city from a drop-down list to narrow down your results to include only returns from a particular area. Selecting a county or city will also give you a list of the districts that make up that area, should you wish to narrow down your search further. If you already know the precise district for which you wish to view census returns, you can select it from the 'District' list directly without needing to specify the county or city first. Using these place search facilities for census returns will allow you to carry out different types of research: for example, you could establish how many women aged 25 to 35 were living in Kilconquhar at the time of the 1861 census by leaving the surname and forename fields blank and completing the age, sex and place fields accordingly.
The valuation rolls search facility allows you to select a county or a city from a drop-down list to restrict your results to those from a particular area of the country. Alternatively, if you know that your place of interest was a burgh, you can use the separate drop-down list for burghs. Selecting a county or city will also give you a list of the parishes included in that administrative area during the relevant year, should you wish to narrow down your search further.
It is also possible to use the 'Place' field to carry out a free text search for terms used in the descriptions of properties or locations given in valuation roll entries. If you are interested in viewing all inhabitants of a particular road, for example, this is the field in which you would enter the name of that road. You could also use it to identify all valuation roll entries relating to a particular type of building or organisation (for example, search terms could include 'colliery', 'meeting house' or 'prison').
Wills and testaments
The search facility for wills and testaments allows you to select one or more courts or commissariots from a drop-down list to narrow down results. If you are uncertain of the court or commissariot in which your testament of interest might have been registered but you know the general area of the country where the maker of the will lived, you can consult our county guides, which give a list of all of the courts associated with a particular county.
You can also carry out a free text search for any place names mentioned in the brief description of each testament. This description will often include the usual address of the subject of the will and the name of the town or city in which they died.
The individual guides to each Scottish county listed below provide a short history of that county's administration and will give you information about which types of records are available for particular areas of the country. Each of these pages also lists the courts in which wills and testaments for individuals living within a specific county could have been registered (for example, wills and testaments of people living in Angus county might be found within the records of Brechin Commissary Court, Dundee Sheriff Court, Dunkeld Commissary Court, Forfar Sheriff Court, St Andrews Commissary Court, and so on).
- Aberdeen county
- Angus county
- Argyll county
- Ayr county
- Banff county
- Berwick county
- Bute county
- Caithness county
- Clackmannan county
- Dumfries county
- Dunbarton county
- East Lothian county
- Fife county
- Inverness county
- Kincardine county
- Kinross county
- Kirkcudbright county
- Lanark county
- Midlothian county
- Moray county
- Nairn county
- Orkney county
- Peebles county
- Perth county
- Renfrew county
- Ross and Cromarty county
- Roxburgh county
- Selkirk county
- Shetland county
- Stirling county
- Sutherland county
- West Lothian county
- Wigtown county
- Aberdeen city
- Dundee city
- Edinburgh city
- Glasgow city