You can search the records in ways other than by personal name or by place name, and can also use the site to help you understand the content of records.

Virtual Volumes

Use Virtual Volumes to search for records of Church of Scotland kirk sessions, presbyteries, synods and other courts and institutions. These records are not indexed by personal name, but you can find records by searching for a particular place or record creator, or by entering a National Records of Scotland catalogue reference.

Maps and plans

You can search specifically for maps and plans.

Archive photographs and illustrations

If you are looking for archive photographs, illustrations from historical records and important Scottish historical documents, try our image library.

Social history

Some of the records in the site can be used for social history. If you are researching particular occupations, the wills and testaments search has a designation field, recording the occupation of many people who left wills or whose testaments were recorded by executors. You can browse a list of occupations in our glossary.

Local history

If you are using the site for local history, a good place to start is our guide on searching by place.

House and building history

You can use records like census returns, valuation rolls and testaments for house and building history.

Help understanding the content of records

Our glossary expands abbreviations, explains legal terminology, lists occupations and defines unfamiliar words and phrases found in records. We also have guides on reading older handwriting (palaeography), dates, numbers and sums of money and weights and measures.