Thursday, August 30, 2012

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland

summer 2012
* Discover Scotland's Industrial Past on Doors Open Day
* Coming Soon - Scotland's Landscapes

Discover Scotland's Industrial Past on Doors Open Day
On 22 September RCAHMS are showcasing the hidden treasures of Scotland's industrial past as part of Edinburgh's Doors Open Day.
Whether you're interested in exploring historical photographs of Victorian factory workers, shipbuilding on the Clyde, or the construction of the Forth Bridge; original design drawings and survey photographs of power stations, hydro-electric schemes, distilleries, gasworks and mills; or aerial photographs of lost industrial sites across Scotland and Europe - we will have something for everyone.
Hear experts talking about our extensive collections and view our exhibitions and films. You'll also get the chance to go behind-the-scenes to discover how we photograph, measure and draw industrial sites, and find out how these unique images form an important record of Scotland's industrial past and present.
Come to RCAHMS at John Sinclair House on Saturday 22 September - we are open all day from 10am to 5pm.

Coming Soon - Scotland's Landscapes
Over the past 10,000 years, every inch of Scotland - whether remote hilltop, fertile floodplain, or storm-lashed coastline - has been shaped, changed and moulded by its people. No part is without its human story. From Orkney's immaculately preserved Neolithic villages to Highland glens stripped of nineteenth century settlements, from a Skye peninsula converted to an ingenious Viking 'shipyard', to a Hebridean clifftop used as the site of a spectacular lighthouse, Scotland's history is written into the land in vivid detail.
Scotland's Landscapes tells the enduring story of this interaction between man and his environment. Stunning new imagery from the National Collection of Aerial Photography comes together to build up a picture of a dramatic terrain forged by thousands of years of incredible change. These are Scotland's landscapes as you have never seen or understood them before.
Out October 2012, priced £25
Pre-order your copy now from BookSource
Tel: 0845 370 0067

RCAHMS Shows You 'Britain from Above'
More than 16,000 images from one of the earliest and most significant collections of aerial photography of the UK have been made freely accessible online to the public for the first time.
Britain from Above, a new website launched this summer by RCAHMS, English Heritage and the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales, features some of the oldest and most valuable images of the Aerofilms Collection, a unique and important archive of over 1 million aerial photographs taken between 1919 and 2006.
Many shots were taken in the early days of aviation by ex-First World War pilots, from extremely low altitudes, a technique which was very dangerous. It shows just how far the Aerofilms pilots were willing to go for a great photograph. The images on the website date from 1919 to 1953, and have gone through a painstaking process of conservation and cataloguing. Due to their age and fragility, many of the earliest plate glass negatives were close to being lost forever.
Highlights from the collection include crowds on the banks of the River Clyde watching the first voyage of the newly-built RMS Queen Mary in 1936; the famous Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, host of the 2014 Ryder Cup, pictured in 1932; Glasgow Green and the tightly-packed tenements of the Gorbals in 1928; and the first boxing match at Wembley Stadium in 1924.
Website users can download images, customise their own themed photo galleries, share personal memories, and add information to enrich the understanding for each of the images. They are also invited to identity the locations of a number of 'mystery' images that have left the experts stumped.
The number of images available to view on the website will continue to grow, and by 2014, some 95,000 photographs taken between 1919 and 1953 will be visible online. There are already over 5,000 images of Scotland available to view.

Tax Rolls on Servants and Fireplaces Go Online
Historical documents, including Scotland's Servant and Hearth Tax rolls dating back some 300 years, are now available online. The tax rolls are among new additions to a treasure trove of historical information held on the ScotlandsPlaces website, which brings together records from three of Scotland's national collections: RCAHMS, the National Records of Scotland (NRS) and the National Library of Scotland (NLS).
The Hearth Tax rolls date from 1691-1695, and represent the first comprehensive survey of all towns, villages and other inhabited places in Scotland. The Servant Tax rolls date from 1777 to 1798 as a tax on wealthy households who employed non-essential servants like butlers and coachmen. Ordnance Survey Name Books for Stirlingshire, Nairnshire, Inverness-shire, Clackmannanshire, Buteshire, Berwickshire and Ayrshire have also been digitised and made available on the website - with the remaining counties to be added by 2013. These specific records can be now accessed as a part of a subscription service. At the same time, new free-to-access materials made available online include 25,000 Second and later edition Ordnance Survey maps - made up of 7,486 6-inch maps dated 1892-1960, and 17,466 25-inch maps dated 1892-1949 - and the place name indexes for Scottish counties, which list every place name found on the First edition OS Maps.
Fiona Hyslop, Cabinet Secretary for Culture and External Affairs, said, 'This data gives us an insight into Scotland's history dating back 300 years. The result of an innovative collaboration between RCAHMS, National Records of Scotland and the National Library of Scotland, this project provides rich historical detail about our buildings, our communities and our people. Viewed together, this data provides a fascinating picture of Scotland's past.'
For more information on the new material and the subscription package, visit ScotlandsPlaces.

Coming Soon - Scotland's Lost Gardens
The product of over 30 years of research, Scotland's Lost Gardens sees author Marilyn Brown rediscovering the fascinating stories of the nation's vanished historic gardens. Drawing on varied, rare and newly available archive material, including the cartography of Timothy Pont, spy maps of Holyrood drawn for Henry VIII during the 'Rough Wooing', medieval charters, renaissance poetry, the Accounts of the Lord High Treasurer; and modern aerial photography, a remarkable picture emerges of centuries of lost landscapes.
Starting with the monastic gardens of St Columba on the Isle of Iona in the sixth century, and encompassing the pleasure parks of James IV and James V, the royal and noble refuges of Mary Queen of Scots, and the 'King's Knot', the garden masterpiece which lies below Stirling Castle, the history of lost gardens is inextricably linked to the wider history of the nation, from the spread of Christianity to the Reformation and the Union of the Crowns.
Out 20 September 2012, priced £30
Pre-order your copy now from BookSource
Tel: 0845 370 0067

Lost Imagery of India Discovered in Shoebox
A century-old collection of photographs of India has been discovered in the RCAHMS archive.
The rare and fragile glass plate negatives, which date back to around 1912, show life on the subcontinent at the high point of the British Raj. The 178 negatives were found in a shoebox for a pair of grey, size 9, Peter Lord slip-on shoes, and were stored in their original five-by-eight-inch plate boxes, wrapped in copies of Calcutta's The Statesman newspaper dating from 1914.
Highlights from the imagery include celebrations for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Calcutta in 1912 - the only visit by a British monarch to India as Emperor of the subcontinent; ships arriving at the Chandpal Ghat, the main landing place for visitors to Calcutta along the Hooghly river; and pilgrims gathered for a religious festival on the Maidan, the large urban park at the centre of Calcutta.
RCAHMS architectural historian Clare Sorensen said, 'It's fantastic that a small shoe-box contained such a treasure-trove of photographic imagery, but in some ways it's not unusual. Our experience as an archive has shown us that some of the most interesting discoveries can be made in the most unlikely of places.'
Research by RCAHMS is ongoing into the identity of the photographer and the origins of the collection and anyone with further information can contact
All 178 negatives have now been digitised, and you can browse a selection of the best images in our online gallery.