Saturday, 31 August 2013

Ancestral Scotland changes

I've just noticed that VisitScotland's Ancestral Scotland website ( has initiated some changes, though I'm not sure if this is a recent development or just one I've just not picked up on before. It used to be that if you subscribed for the site's newsletter, you would receive ten free credits for use on the ScotlandsPeople website ( In practice, you could look up one full record (6 credits in total for search and image) and a few 1881 census transcripts (1 credit each).

This now appears to have changed. Instead of the previous registration page for the newsletter, there is a much simpler form to fill out, with the site noting that "You will receive your first issue of our newsletter within the next few weeks." A code is no longer offered upon registration for the ScotlandsPeople site, offering you free credits.

There is one other new thing on the site, and that is a limited - and by God, do I mean limited! - access to the 1881 census. You can perform a search by surname, forename, address, age range, census place and birthplace. Click search and it will tell you that there are X number of results. And err... that's it. It very politely then tells you that you need to visit ScotlandsPeople!

There is also a Clan Search function that tells you where your family is likely to have come from in Scotland, as offered "courtesy and © of TartanWeb Ltd, manufacturers of the world's largest range of clan crested products, kilts and Highlandwear accessories." Very handy if you're into that sort of thing, though it is of course worth reiterating that Highland and clan history forms just one part of Scottish history - and that Sir Walter Scott, George IV and the Sobieski brothers should all be tried for crimes against Scottish culture as far as this shug is concerned! :) There are some useful clan histories available though, through this function.

There is also a useful series of guides to archives, local studies libraries and museums across the country on the site, to help you plan a visit.


My new book, Tracing Your Irish Family History on the Internet, is now available from Pen and Sword. My Scottish land and church records ebooks are available at, whilst my next Pharos Scottish course, Scottish Research Online, starts Sep 4th - see Time to smash a few brick walls...!

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