Our archaeological and Scottish collections encompass Scotland’s history from the Palaeolithic era to the present day, and include some of our greatest treasures, from enigmatic Neolithic carvings to the famous Lewis chessmen, stunning Iron Age gold torcs to jewellery associated with Mary, Queen of Scots.

From life at war to the story of Scottish emigration, the Union of the Parliaments to Devolution, our Scottish history collections provide a comprehensive record of the life, times and achievements of the people of Scotland at home and abroad.

Official poster of the IXth Commonwealth Games in 1970

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Commonwealth Games objects

In 2014 Scotland welcomed the Commonwealth Games to Glasgow. Objects from our collection give an insight into the history of the games.
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Arthurs Seat Coffins 3

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Arthur's Seat coffins

These miniature coffins are among the most popular and mysterious objects in the National Museum of Scotland. Discover more about their secrets here.
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Ballachulish Figure

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Ballachulish figure

Fertility figure or Iron Age goddess of the straits? This carved sculpture of a female, the oldest human figure found in Scotland, dates from around 600 BC, but its origins remain unknown.
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Hilton of Cadboll stone

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Early Medieval Scotland

The Early Medieval period (around AD 300 – 900) is a very important part of Scotland’s past. Coming just after the Romans left Britain and before the arrival of the Vikings, it was a time of great creativity in Scotland.
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Lewis chessmen

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Lewis chessmen

Found on Lewis in 1831, the Lewis Chessmen are probably the most well-known archaeological find from Scotland.
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Mary, Queen of Scots © Blairs Museum Trust

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Mary, Queen of Scots

Mary, Queen of Scots is one of the most famous yet enigmatic figures in Scottish history. Explore her dramatic story and separate out the facts from the myths that have built up around her.
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