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Beyond the Physical: Under the Soil


Join HES Archives’ Digital Projects in celebrating the end of a four-year project through which we have preserved and made available online over half a million items. This gallery is one of three containing images hand-picked by the project team as part of our ‘Beyond the Physical’ Showcase, taking you on a photo-illustrated journey through some of the collections now available.

This gallery highlights some of our favourite archaeological images. HES is responsible for National Record for the Historic Environment, which contains records of human activity from the Mesolithic era to the present day. Digital Projects have digitised over 57,000 photographs of historic archaeological projects and processed over 75,000 modern digital records of archaeological work conducted throughout Scotland.

Records range from Vere Gordon Chile’s surveys of Skara Brae in 1930 to excavations at Jedburgh Abbey in 1984. Digitisation of collections has also allowed us to promote women in our collections, including Dr Joanna Close-Brooks and Dr Mary Harman. Dr Harman’s work in the 1980s was foundational to our understanding of UNESCO World Heritage site, St Kilda.

Archaeologists continue to use new technologies to investigate Scotland’s past. HES receives terabytes of new digital records every year. The Digital Project has improved our ability to preserve and distribute modern archaeological records, including reports, images, 3D photogrammetry and LiDAR scanning. Through this project we have made modern digital records available for public access, with more added every day.

This is just the tip of the iceberg of material available, so make sure to check out our other galleries and go on your own treasure hunt throughout our collections on Canmore. For further information on the Digital Projects’ work, and links to our related galleries, visit our online Showcase at