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Scotland’s People is the official Scottish genealogy research website, with its offices based on Edinburgh’s main high street. It has almost 90 million records to browse, including census records, birth and death certificates. You can use it to research online, or even drop in to the center on Princes Street to do some first-hand exploring.
Many people may have an interest in Scottish heritage, since a great number of Scots have left the shores of the UK throughout history. You can track down your ancestors or just check out your family’s coat of arms if you wish, with each piece of research costing a different amount depending on its rarity and accessibility.
Because documents are limited to Scottish ancestry, the site won’t be of much use to anyone who isn’t interested in that topic. Although it claims to be an official site (and uses the .gov.uk URL) it’s not a particularly well built site, and finding what you’re looking for can sometimes take a bit longer than we’d like.
Features, news and events are updated, but not all that regularly. We reviewed this site in June and their last newsletter (available on the site) was published in April. The various hyperlinks and subcategories on each page also make it feel a bit cluttered.
Free surname searches are available, but you can also search statutory registers, parish records, census records, wills and valuation rolls. You need to register to access any of these, but even once that’s done it’s not particularly easy to find what you’re looking for.
ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk offers some help and resources to support your research. Tools include wildcard searches, the ability to save search criteria, fuzzy searching and a direct image viewer. Often, though, we found that the site offered information about its tools and searches but actually using them was more troublesome as they weren’t that easy to locate. Some of the articles on how to perform research are worth reading, but they’re quite dry and there are no video tutorials.
Scotland’s People would really benefit from a website redesign. The information might be there, but it’s not user-friendly enough and looks outdated. Finding a family coat of arms is simple enough, and a little cheaper than you might find on other websites, but that’s pretty much where the ease of use ends. If you want to find out about your Scottish heritage, the site might be worth a visit. However, there are other sites out there which might contain just as much information without the general irritations found here.
Click on the button below to check out ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk for yourself...