Heritage at home: 8 of the best online heritage resources

We’ve created a list of some of the most valuable online resources that can help you while away the hours, or finish that research project you’ve finally got the time for now.


SCRAN is an online archive, and as a result of Lockdown, is currently offering FREE access! SCRAN is part of Historic Environment Scotland, and hosts a little bit of everything; images, film footage, and printed ephemera from over 300 cultural institutions in the UK. To access SCRAN for free Follow the link below for and use the discount code SCRAN-COVID in the shop section on the SCRAN website:

The offer currently runs till July, so you’ve got a few months to enjoy this treasure trove of an archive for free, make the most of it!

The British Museum

The British Museum has an array of engaging online resources; from audio guides to virtual gallery tours. Most recently, the Museum released 1.9 million high definition images of objects from its collection. This means you can zoom in to examine some amazing objects, like this mesmerizing brooch from the Sutton Hoo ship burial as well as download the images and keep them to peruse at your leisure.

The National Museum of Scotland – Museum at Home

Our very own National Museum has updated its website to include a very handy Learning Resources section, which has activity packs for kids, families and teachers, as well as podcasts and gallery tours for adults. If you visit NMS’s sketchfab page, you can also view over 150 objects in 3D, accurately laser scanned and then uploaded for us all to enjoy. We are particularly fond of this pensive Queen from the Lewis Chess Set.

Historic Environment Scotland

All of HES’s sites across the country are closed for now, but you can still visit Maeshowe, a Neolithic chambered tomb in Orkney, from the comfort of your own home by downloading the Maeshowe App. We’ve given it a go, and it’s pretty great! HES also have a sketchfab page, which has over 300 3D models objects like this statue of James V from Stirling Castle, as well as archaeological sites like this reconstruction of Bar Hill Fort.

HES has recently launched their Learn at Home initiative, where they’ve collected together all of their favourite learning resources. If there are small humans in your house in need of entertaining there’s hours worth of educational and fun activities for them to enjoy. There’s everything from word searches to interactive games about Romand Scotland and the Forth Road Bridge, as well as a brand new illustrated activity booklet on the Declaration of Arbroath.

National Records for Scotland – ScotlandsPeople

ScotlandsPeople is the official Scottish Government site for searching government records and archives and is a brilliant resource for those interested in exploring their families history. You can access maps, wills, and birth, baptism and death records. It’s a great way to get started on that family tree you’ve been meaning to get around to. They also regularly publish interesting articles based on research on their records. This resource is so important, as it tells the stories of ordinary people across Scotland, and enables us to remember their lives.


Canmore, run by HES, is an online catalogue dedicated to Scotland’s archaeology, buildings, industrial and maritime heritage. If you’re interested in any of the above then this is the website for you. You can search the huge collection for an area of interest, or you can look at specific groups of images; like this lovely collection of images of Stirling, or this collection celebrating the architecture of swimming baths and pools.

Royal Institute of British Architects – British Architectural Library

RIBA’s British Architectural Library is a wonderful place to visit, but it’s also a great online resource which hosts thousands of images, which are helpfully catalogued into collections. You can pore over images of Pools, Baths, and Lidos, or if that’s not your cup of tea then maybe you’d like to browse the Art Deco Style Guide?

National Library of Scotland – Maps

Do you like maps? If you do then you’re in for a treat. The National Library of Scotland has every map-type you could ever wish for; from modern OS maps to beautiful hand-drawn medieval ones. You can search by town or map type, and you can zoom right in on the fine details as the images are super high definition. There’s also a rather fun Map Spy tool, which allows you to view maps from the 1900s as well as modern satellite imagery.

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