28 November 2015
Scottish Catholic Archives










GB240 and GB3380









Columba House, 16 Drummond Place, Edinburgh EH3 6PL, Scotland



+44 (0) 131 556 3661



+44 (0) 131 556 3661







Head of repository









Institutional context


The Scottish Catholic Archives preserves, selects and makes available the archives of the pre- and post-reformation Catholic Church in Scotland and abroad.

The Scottish Catholic Archives is responsible for the official records of the Catholic Church in Scotland at home and abroad prior to the restoration of a Catholic Diocesan Hierarchy in Scotland in 1878; and for any papers transmitted from the dioceses and parishes of Scotland and from the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.

The Historic Collection is on long-term loan and can be consulted at the Special Collections Centre of the Sir Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen.  The Historic Collection includes the pre-reformation(pre-1560) Catholic Church in Scotland; Benedictine Abbeys in Germany(1177), and the post-Reformation Scottish Catholic Mission (including seminaries at home and abroad, and some Vicariates, from 1560-1878). 
Our holdings at Columba House include parish registers and documentary post-1878 diocesan records for the Archdiocese of St Andrews and Edinburgh (1878-); the Diocese of Aberdeen (1878-); the Diocese of Argyll and the Isles (1878-); the Diocese of Dunkeld (1878-); the Diocese of Galloway (1878-); and the Diocese of Motherwell (1947-).

The Scottish Catholic Archives cares for private records received by gift, purchase, loan or charge and superintendence, which relate to the Catholic Church in Scotland at home and abroad. These can include the records of: individuals; families; estates; businesses; organisations; clubs and societies.

The Scottish Catholic Archives is a national agency of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland.


Institutional history


The Scottish Catholic Archives is the national archives of the Catholic Church in Scotland. Its building in Edinburgh, called Columba House, opened in 1958 at 16 Drummond Place, Edinburgh to house the collection of muniments previously located at St Mary’s College, Blairs, Aberdeenshire, which had been gathered there for a period of up to 100 years. Since then, the collections have grown in size and being a national agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland means that it is responsible for archives and records management services for the Church at home and abroad. This broad remit ensures that records are selected and preserved for the future and made accessible to interested parties, as well as giving practical advice and support to the administrations creating them.


Administrative structure


The Scottish Catholic Archives is a national agency of the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland.   The service is based in Edinburgh, but assists with the management of diocesan record stores in Aberdeen, Ayr and Edinburgh; as well as administering the archives of the Pontifical Scots College, Rome and the Royal Scots College, Salamanca.


Collecting policy


The Scottish Catholic Archives acquisition priorities are: to acquire the records of the Catholic Church in Scotland at home and abroad; to transfer non-current records still held within Church properties in poor storage conditions;  to acquire records from private individuals and organisation that will increase the range and depth of the collections held.




The Scottish Catholic Archives occupies a property built in 1819 in the second New Town of Edinburgh. It forms part of the corner pavilion block of a Georgian townhouse.

The Scottish Catholic Archives moved to the building, named Columba House, in 1958.   The building provides a reading area, offices, and strongrooms.

The building is fully wireless enabled for the public and has a full range of AV equipment available.


Archival and other holdings


The Scottish Catholic Archives is responsible for the official records of the Catholic Church in Scotland and those institutions operated in Spain and Italy. It also holds records of individuals and families; businesses; other organisations and schools amongst others.


Finding aids and publications


McRoberts, David, The Scottish Catholic Archives, 1560-1978, The Innes Review, vol XXVIII (1977), no 2, Glasgow 1977.

Burns, Charles; McRoberts, David; Nicoll, Andrew, A brief narration: the Scottish Catholic Archives, The Aquhorties Press, Edinburgh 2009.

Nicoll, Andrew, ‘One of our main shop windows to the world at large’: the Scottish Catholic Archives, Scottish Records Association, vol 12, Edinburgh 2006.








Opening times


Open by appointment, 10am-1pm and 2pm-4.00pm.   The archive is closed in the evenings and at weekends. Public and religious holidays are observed. The archive is closed over the Christmas and New Year period.


Conditions and requirements


A Reader’s Ticket is required – on your first visit you will need to bring photographic identification with you in order to apply for a Reader’s ticket. Accepted forms of identification are: passport; driving licence; matriculation card; Scottish Government travel card; Scottish Government or Local Authority staff pass. If you do not own any of these documents then you can bring a utility bill showing your current address and a valid bank card. Additionally, it is mandatory for every reader to supply two passport photographs in order to apply for or renew your Readers' ticket.


Disabled access


There are 7 steps up to the front door of Columba House which can make access for those with physical disabilities problematic. Please contact us in advance of a visit and we can transfer archives to the National Register of Archives for Scotland www.nas.gov.uk/nras at West Register House, Edinburgh, www.nas.gov.uk where disabled access is available.




The Scottish Catholic Archives is situated within easy walking distance of Edinburgh Waverley Train Station www.thetrainline.co.uk and Edinburgh's Bus Station at St Andrew's Square www.travelinescotland.com   It is also on Lothian Regional Transport www.lothianbuses.co.uk bus routes numbers 13, 23, and 27. If you are coming by car you may wish to take advantage of the on-street parking available around Drummond Place. The current charge is £1.20 per hour.





Research services


Limited research enquiries are carried out free of charge; research can be carried out at a charge of £35 per hour (minimum of 1 hour).


Reproduction services


Copies can be requested of any items in the archives subject to preservation and copyright regulations. A full list of reprographic fees is available upon request.


Public facilities


The Scottish Catholic Archives  are very close to the shops and amenities of Edinburgh City Centre.










8th May 2015





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