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What should you find in a Canmore record?

That’s the question that we’ve been asking ourselves. We need to know, so that we can test our records and find out where the gaps are. We can then make plans to improve the quality of our records so that, over time, more and more of them will pass the test.

Canmore is there for the benefit of its users, but we know that some of the records are more usable than others. We know that there is great variety in the quality of information, from very good and detailed to quite poor. We want to make the Record as useful as possible for everyone who consults it.

Canmore is complicated. It contains records for over 330,000 sites and 1.4 million related pieces of archive material. It covers archaeological sites, buildings and industry, landscapes and maritime heritage across Scotland. So it’s no surprise that one size doesn’t fit all: for example, some of the information in a ‘site’ record will be different from that in a ‘collection’ one.

The information in Canmore comes from many different sources and has been built up over many decades. Over that time our interests have changed, so it’s not surprising to find that our records have been created in a number of different ways. This is not helpful to users.

We want to make Canmore better. We’ve looked at what we think are the basic pieces of information that every record should have: the Minimum Record Standard. Taking the record of a site like a castle, for example, we think that every record should be able to tell the user:

  • What’s it called?
  • Where is it?
  • What sort of structure is it?
  • How old is it?

We hope, in time, that as many ‘site’ records in Canmore will contain at least this information

We’ve written a ‘technical specification’ for the Minimum Record Standard which covers this in greater detail. If you would like to know any more then you can contact us at