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A Snapshot in Time: a review of current approaches to archaeological archiving in Scotland

Peter McKeague

Cite this as: McKeague, P. 2021 A Snapshot in Time: a review of current approaches to archaeological archiving in Scotland, Internet Archaeology 58.


Hosted by Historic Environment Scotland (HES), the National Record of the Historic Environment (NRHE) is the primary place of deposit for archaeological archives in Scotland. Built up over several decades, the archives hold over 1.6m items, both analogue and digital, linked to a site inventory of over 320,000 site records relating to the archaeological and architectural history of Scotland. Initially the survey archive of the former Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland, the collections now include project archives from professional archaeological companies, academic researchers and, increasingly, community projects. A range of policy and professional drivers, as well as best practice, encourage archival deposition. The digital component of the archive has grown considerably over the last decade. In response, the NRHE has invested in preservation software to manage these holdings and has submitted an application for CoreTrustSeal. The NRHE is available online through the Canmore database and web-map applications. The online presence is assessed against the FAIR Data principles.

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  • Keywords: archaeology, digital data, archaeological archives, spatial data, FAIR data, Scotland
  • Accepted: 21 January 2021. Published: 31 May 2021
  • Funding: This article was funded by SEADDA as part of COST Action 18128, Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union
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Corresponding author: Peter McKeagueORCID logo
Historic Environment Scotland

Full text

Table 1: Range of catalogued material in the archives by discipline and category (some material relating to ruined monuments such as castles is double indexed). Digital content is shaded (sampled 27 November 2020)

Table 2: Digital data formats in the archive (sampled 27 November 2020)

Table 3: External archaeological content held in the digital archive (sampled 27 November 2020)

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