Books on shelves in Brodie Castle library

A collection of our research reports and papers

Histories of the witch trials

In 2021 we commissioned historian Dr Ciaran Jones to look into the connections that our properties have to witch trials that took place in Scotland between the 16th and early-18th centuries. Ciaran’s report identified 39 places where there is either a direct or indirect connection to a documented witch trial.

These stories are a rich insight into the social and cultural world of early modern Scotland, stories that we naturally want to share with our visitors. But this is also a complex and challenging history, with difficult themes of violence and injustice, which make it all the more important that we tell these stories accurately and with sensitivity.


Download the pdf to read the report in full

Facing Our Past project

The Facing Our Past project was launched by the National Trust for Scotland in September 2020. It is part of the Trust’s ongoing mission of historical research into the background to the properties and landscapes in our care. In a sense it is work without end, as there will always be something hidden in the accumulation of years to be rediscovered and shared, adding to our knowledge of how our culture and society is shaped by the past.

The issue of slavery and its intertwining with the histories of individual properties, families and the nation as a whole is not something that has ever been completely hidden. Many historians and educators have shone a light on it through the years, including the Trust itself. However, we knew that there was much that remained to be understood. This report, by Dr Jennifer Melville, is a first step towards bringing the facts to attention, and using them in the interpretation of our properties so that we can offer our members and visitors a much more rounded and honest view of the past.


Facing Our Past

pdf (5.31 MB)

Download the PDF to read the interim report

Survey of Asian Ceramics

Between 2017 and 2019 the National Trust for Scotland delivered Project Reveal, a major collections project inventorying a collection of over 140,000 objects, distributed across 50 properties throughout Scotland. Encompassing major object groupings in the areas of fine and decorative art, household furniture and domestic life, these collections chart the experiences of people living in Scotland through 500 years of Scottish history, as well as demonstrating Scotland’s past relationships with the rest of the world.

This survey of Asian ceramics is a natural successor to Project Reveal. It delves deeper into the history and significance of a collection of circa 1,700 ceramic items. Undertaken by the independent researcher Patricia F. Ferguson this report sets out the survey findings, drawing together disparate existing research on the subject and contributing new collection research and knowledge. Focusing on key collections at nine different National Trust for Scotland properties, the report positions the collections within the broader context of historic ceramic production and collecting, with attention to influences such as: fashion and the role of royalty; production in and trade with China and Japan; and the growth of and changes in demand.


Survey of Asian ceramics

pdf (9.37 MB)

Download the pdf to read the survey report in full

Portfolio Review

As part of our work to support the development of the Trust’s corporate strategy, we set out to provide additional insight into how we deliver the Trust’s charitable purpose. Built Environment Forum Scotland (BEFS) were commissioned to support the Trust in undertaking this review.

Restoring, managing and providing access to some of Scotland’s most important heritage sites and objects helps the Trust deliver its vision of Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone. Our exceptional and diverse portfolio contributes to the protection of these places as well as enabling us to share stories about Scotland’s people, their ideas and creativity, our varied landscapes and key moments in our history. Our places are for everyone, so people and communities throughout Scotland may benefit through enjoyment, learning, health & wellbeing and economic opportunities.

This review gives us an opportunity to reflect, look beyond our boundaries and develop new thinking to aid our implementation of the Trust’s purpose, as well as identify the broad benefits of our places.


Download the PDF to read the Portfolio Review from the National Trust for Scotland and Built Environment Forum Scotland.


Built Estate Analysis

pdf (9.26 MB)

Download the PDF to read the Built Estate Analysis from the National Trust for Scotland and Built Environment Forum Scotland.


Download the PDF to read the Executive Summary from the National Trust for Scotland and Built Environment Forum Scotland.

Culzean Castle before Robert Adam

Culzean Castle is best known as Robert Adam’s cliff-top romantic masterpiece. The image of the castle – really the 18th and 19th century country house – adorns Scottish banknotes, postcards and has recently made it on to the ‘Mayfair’ spot of the Ayrshire version of Monopoly! The picturesque view from the folly or ruined arch gateway, looking along the viaduct approach over the terraced walled gardens, is well-known.

Read the full report – Culzean Castle before Robert Adam

Ben Lawers Historic Landscape project

The Ben Lawers Historic Landscape project was a multi-disciplinary project based on north Loch Tayside in the Central Highlands of Scotland, taking place between 1996 and 2005. Archaeological surveys and excavations formed the core of the Ben Lawers project, with many other disciplines contributing. The results of the 13 field seasons – together with the results of the partner projects, specialist studies and scientific analyses – have provided a body of evidence which permits the story of the land of Lawers to be told.

Read the full report – Ben Lawers: An archaeological landscape in time

The historic landscape at Dollar Glen

The upland area of Dollar Glen is dotted with evidence of temporary occupation, in the form of turf- and stone-built structures. Our research examines the evidence obtained by the survey and excavation of these structures, and discusses the possible multifunctionality of the landscape. It compares the landscape to other known medieval and historical parklands in Scotland, and suggests that the Campbells may have been using landscape features for social and political purposes as well as economic benefit.

Read the full report – A multifunctional historic landscape at Dollar Glen (p147)