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Our History

1908 Responding to widespread concern at the destruction of historical monuments, the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) is established by Royal Warrant to make a list or Inventory of the surviving heritage from earliest times up to the year 1707.

1909 First Report and Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Berwick is published.

1914 George Chrystal, Professor of Mathematics at Edinburgh University, donates 67 glass-plate negatives illustrating historic buildings across Scotland, one of many gifts which laid the foundations for the RCAHMS photographic collection.

1940s The wartime threat to Scotland's architectural heritage creates a pressing need for recording to be widened and speeded up. RCAHMS switches to photographic recording, creating a record of some 2,300 images by 1942, and the Scottish National Buildings Record (SNBR) is established to create measured survey drawings, collate existing records and collect architect's design drawings to broaden the record as quickly as possible.

1948 With 12 Inventories completed, the 1707 date restriction on RCAHMS survey work is removed and its remit extends to include surveys of more modern architecture.

1966 The Scottish National Buildings Record is transferred to RCAHMS, thereby creating the National Monuments Record of Scotland (NMRS), along with the responsibility for the recording of threatened buildings.

1976 Aerial photographic survey programme commences.

1983 RCAHMS given the task of supplying archaeological information to the Ordnance Survey in Scotland for mapping purposes.

1985 The Scottish Industrial Archaeology Survey, formerly in the University of Strathclyde, is transferred to RCAHMS along with its archive.

1989 RCAHMS made responsible for the strategic survey of land likely to be covered in forestry.

1992 The 25th and final county inventory (Argyll. An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments, Volume 7, Mid Argyll and Cowal: Medieval and Later Monuments) is published.

1993 The extensive collections of the Scottish Office aerial photographic unit are transferred to RCAHMS.

2008 RCAHMS celebrates its centenary year. The Aerial Reconnaissance Archive, one of the world’s largest aerial photographic collections with over 18 million images, is transferred to RCAHMS and is brought together with existing collections to form the National Collection of Aerial Photography (NCAP).
Scran (Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network), Scotland's foremost online educational resource, becomes part of RCAHMS, offering subscribers copyright-cleared access to more than 360,000 resources relating to heritage and material culture. RCAHMS Enterprises is established to support and manage commercial development and business income generation.

2010 RCAHMS sets outs its strategic priorities for 2010-2015 in Future RCAHMS