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  • Writer's picturePaul Andrews

New Plans For Scottish Archive House

Historic Environment Scotland (HES) has announced plans for a new state-of-the-art home for its archives. Archive House, an existing building in the Sherwood Industrial Estate in Bonnyrigg, will be converted to a world-class facility to house the organisation’s extensive records and archives, which give a unique insight in to over 5,000 years of Scotland’s history.

The project, which is expected to be completed by 2026, will meet recognised standards for archive buildings and be an exemplar of reuse and retrofit. With overall project management by Gleeds, design by Oberlanders and with specialist engineering input from Buro Happold, the project aims to be the first public building to be designed implementing the new Scottish Government Net Zero Public Sector Building Standard. This takes into account not only the carbon emissions of the building while in use, but also the carbon emissions associated with the building materials and maintenance.

Currently housed at John Sinclair House in Edinburgh and other locations across central Scotland, the HES Archive is home to the national archaeological and architectural archive. It holds over 3,500 different collections, comprising drawings, photographs, documents, prints and tomes stretching across 15km of shelving. The new archive facility will enable these collections to be protected to the highest standards.

In 2026, the existing Archive Search Room and Library, which are open to the public, will also be move out of John Sinclair House and into nearby Longmore House, HES’ headquarters. This will ensure that this national collection remains easily accessible for researchers and members of the public. The archive handles around 12,000 direct enquiries annually, while approximately 3 million users access the archive online each year. It is expected that with better accessibility both online and in-person, user numbers across Scotland’s communities and beyond will increase.

Work is already well underway to prepare the archive for its move, as archivists carry out the exhaustive task of listing, documenting, location-coding and repackaging every single one of the approximately 6 million items held within the collections.

Lesley Ferguson, Head of Archives at HES, said: “This project is the greatest opportunity our generation has had to discover, catalogue, conserve and secure the knowledge that underpins the understanding and conservation of Scotland’s history."

“Our archives offer an unparalleled view of the nation’s past, and this project will ensure they can be protected for future generations. This new purpose-built space will help us enhance and increase our conservation and cataloguing work, while advanced environmental protections and controls will help prevent damage to our priceless collections."

“As well as safeguarding our archive, we are excited about the opportunity this project offers to inspire new audiences to engage with our unique collections and to make them more accessible than ever before."

“We understand how important it is for current users of our archive to be aware of the project and how it might impact them, and we will be providing regular updates as our plans develop.”


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