Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Scotland’s national collection of buildings, archaeology and industry opens its files to the public


by Kathryn Hadley

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) was established in 1908 and for the past 100 years has collected, recorded and interpreted information on the architectural, industrial, archaeological and maritime heritage of Scotland. Yesterday, its main web-based archive, Canmore, opened its files to the public, becoming interactive for the first time. Members of the public are now able to add their own knowledge directly to the archives by providing more detailed information and uploading their own photos to any of the 280,000 places of interest recorded on the database. To add information to the archives, members of the public simply search for a site, register and then upload the additional information.

The RCAHMS currently holds over 15 million items, including drawings, photographs, maps and documents, which are made available to the public via the website, but also in the RCAHMS search room in Edinburgh and through exhibitions and publications. RCAHMS collections include the National Collection of Aerial Photography, which represents one of the largest collections of aerial imagery in the world; a collection of approximately 2.5 million photographs relating to the built environment; over 2 million prints and drawings dating from the 17th century to the present day; some 25,000 books relating to the archaeological, architectural and historical heritage of Scotland; as well as collections of architectural models and manuscripts, many of which remain unpublished.

RCAHMS project manager, Siobhan McConnachie, explained:

‘The RCAHMS online database gives access to a lot of information about
Scotland’s built heritage and it is completely accessible to the public. The
collection ranges from drawings and photographs of prehistoric sites such as
Skara Brae, to iconic modern structures such as the Falkirk Wheel as well as a
huge range of material on our everyday buildings from villages to cities across
the whole of Scotland. We know from the work that we do and the people we meet
while doing it, that many people have a wealth of information they would
like to share with us that will add to our knowledge of a building’s past
or images that will help tell a story.’

For further information and to add details to the Canmore online database, visit http://canmore.rcahms.gov.uk/
Pictures:
- Princes Street, Edinburgh
- The Clyde (© RCAHMS. Licensor http://www.rcahms.gov.uk/)

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