Our archaeological and Scottish collections encompass Scotland’s history from the Palaeolithic era to the present day.

This collection of over two million items includes 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.

Norries Law Hoard 1500Px

Norrie's Law hoard

This early medieval silver, unearthed in Fife during the 19th century, is one of the largest Pictish hoards ever to be found.
Arthurs Seat Coffins 3

The mystery of the miniature coffins

Satanic spell, superstitious charm or echo of Edinburgh’s grisly underworld history? We examine the theories put forward to explain the strange tale of these tiny coffins, discovered on Arthur’s Seat almost 200 years ago.
Mary, Queen of Scots © Blairs Museum Trust

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.
Valance A1988263 C

The Jacobite challenge

Discover the story of the Jacobites and Prince Charles Edward Stewart, better known as Bonnie Prince Charlie, through key objects from the national collection.
Ballachulish Figure

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.
Deskford carnyx

Deskford carnyx

Uncover the history of this iconic Celtic trumpet, and find out how it has been reconstructed to bring the music of the past to life.

Scottish History and Archaeology curators