Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)

RCAHMS ( is the national body of record for the historic environment in Scotland.


  • Identifies, surveys and analyses the historic and built environment of Scotland.
  • Preserves, cares for and adds to the information and items in its national collection.
  • Promotes understanding, education and enjoyment through interpretation of the information it collects and the items it looks after

Canmore provides a public window to over 320,000 sites and nearly 1,200,000 associated collections items. Standards play a key part in ensuring records are consistently described and indexed so that the public can quickly search and retrieve the information they are looking for. Standards underpin delivery of the RCAHMS Data Strategy in:

  1. Benefiting people:
    • Provide a 21st century Inventory of Scotland’s built, historic and marine environment for the people of Scotland and those wider afield.
    • Provide a fully accessible catalogue to RCAHMS’s National Collection and systems for the sharing of built, historic and marine environment information across a wide range of government, professional bodies and other groups.
  2. Creating quality records:
    • Be the place of deposit for all information about Scotland’s built, historic and marine environment. Work with depositors to enhance quality.
    • Meet and help to develop national and international data standards.
    • Undertake continuous improvement to enhance the quality and accuracy of existing data holdings.
  3. Enhancing knowledge, skills and expertise:
    • Share skills and expertise in data collection and information management through training and guidance to professional and non-professional users.
    • Open up and manage access to the Inventory to external contributors (Specialist and Trained Users and explore methods for further incorporation of User Generated Content, wikis and social networks).
  4. Attracting resources and improving efficiency:
    • Provide efficient and sustainable resources for use across the sector.
    • Provide links to other data sources to prevent duplication, and to continue to develop the Specialist User Recording Environment.

RCAHMS and Historic Scotland will be joining together to form a new Non Departmental Public Body in 2015. The new organisation will be the lead body in delivering the Historic Environment Strategy for Scotland which is currently in consultation. Promotion of data standards will help deliver that strategy through smarter and more efficient working, opportunities for new partnerships and learning to ensure that people benefit from and value their historic environment.

Gaelic translation of terms in the Scottish Monuments Thesaurus was undertaken on behalf of Historic Scotland and RCAHMS by Michael Bauer ( with funding provided by Bòrd na Gàidhlig. Inclusion of Gaelic terms provides an illustration of the usefulness of the SKOS approach.  As an example the term ‘SCHOOL HOUSE’ is concept 447 in the Scottish Monument thesaurus. The concept can be expressed in Scots Gaelic as TAIGH-SGOILE [gd] (preferred term) with any number of alternate labels also documented.

RCAHMS contact: Peter McKeague

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