Ancestral Research and the Archivist’s Garden, Edinburgh

When asked to provide “Tip from the Locals” for a website writing about things to do in Edinburgh in January, I thought long and hard about what to recommend.  Ideas sprang to mind, like exhibitions, galleries, cafés to visit, museums and more.

Lots of indoor ideas as January can be a chilly month in the city.  But then my thoughts turned to the types of visitors we’ve had over the years when we had our self catering business. I thought about the Australians New Zealanders Canadians and Americans who come to visit Scotland to do ancestral research, to discover the land of their parent’s or more distant relatives birth.

We’ll be welcoming lots of visitors to Scotland in 2024 who are coming to Scotland for many different reasons, but our ancestral research visitors tend to already have a link to the country and want to make connections to places where their ancestors have lived, or to find out more about vital links in their more distant past.  For this reason, my insider tip relates to Scotland’s People Centre – the combination of Register House and New Register House, which stand at the east end of Princes Street.  Outside there is a statue of the Duke of Wellington on his horse.

Ancestral Research Register House Edinburgh

Ancestral Research – How to get started

Inside, you can attend one of the familiarisation sessions to get you started on researching your family history, or if you have already started to build your family tree, you can access original documents which your ancestors have been required to submit when recording births, deaths and marriages.  You can do all sorts of research on-line with Scotland’s People records, but for me there is nothing quite like the feeling of seeing an original signature in the records and realising that the person in question actually touched and wrote on that paper.

Ancestral Research a Hidden Gem

My “insider tip” is that to the rear of Register House, accessed via path from the front of New Register House, there is a very special secret garden.  The garden is planted with more than 50 varieties of plants which have a story to tell and a relationship with Scotland.  The Archivist’s Garden is free to enter while the offices are open, and it’s well worth a visit as it’s a tranquil place amongst the hustle and bustle of the city centre.  Even on a December day when I visited there were sculptural forms of plants to enjoy.

Ancestral Research Archivists Garden Edinburgh

If you would like to find out more about our tips and suggestions of what there is to see and do on a trip to Edinburgh then read our blog posts at www.2edinburgh.com

Anything to add?