Friday, 29 November 2013


Day 1: Today is a day of arrival. It is a bank holiday. Banks, post offices and other government buildings will be closed. Tourist attractions and museums are open. We will meet in the hotel meeting room in the evening. Ian Walker of Borders Journeys will join us for those who wish to finalize their trip details with him. 

Day 2: Following breakfast, we will be taken to Scotland’s People Centre. Here we will enjoy a Family History Event, which is not only an introduction to the facility but also a workshop on Scottish Research as well. Coffee and tea will be provided during this event. You are free to research for the remainder of the day. 

Day 3: For the next two days, the group will be split into two. One half of the group will return to ScotlandsPeople Centre for a full day of research. The other half of the group will make our way over to the Scottish Genealogy Society. Here, we will take part in a Family History event to learn about the resources available at the Society and to assist in moving forward in our Scottish research. The SGS has MIs, burial records, census indices and directories. 

Day 4:  Today will be a reverse of yesterday. The group that went to the Scottish Genealogy Society yesterday will enjoy a full day of research at ScotlandsPeople Centre. The other half of the group will make our way over to the Scottish Genealogy Society for a Family History Event and tour of the Society.

Tonight we will meet as a group for a Ghosts and Graveyards Tour through City of the Dead Tours. This tour explores the rich history of the old town, and includes a tour of the underground vaults as well as a late night tour of Greyfriars Graveyard. The Graveyard part of the tour takes us within the confines of the covenanters prison. This area of the graveyard is normally locked. This tour is optional. For those wishing to join us, the fees will be covered.

Day 5:  Following breakfast, we will walk over to the National Library. Here we will be shown a presentation on what the Library has to offer then given a quick tour. You will require a temporary library card in order to research here. The card is free.  

The weekend is open for anyone wishing to travel to their ancestral part of Scotland, or simply just to  sightsee.    

Day 8: Arrangements can be made for you to attend the genealogy society in the area where your ancestors lived to provide you with the social history details you won't necessarily get elsewhere. If this is at a distance, you might want to also spend the weekend in the area to gain a better sense of who your ancestors were and then attend the local genealogy society on the Monday, prior to your return to Edinburgh. If you choose to stay locally, you can return to ScotlandsPeople Centre, the National Records of Scotland or the Scottish Genealogy Society. Or you can head to Glasgow to the Mitchell Library and the Glasgow Archives.

Day 9:  Following breakfast, we will return to ScotlandsPeople Centre for a full day of research. The evening will be spent at the Taste of Scotland Show 

Day 10: Following breakfast, we will check out of the hotel so you can transfer back to Glasgow airport or move on to your next stop in Scotland.


Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Give the Gift of Heritage This Christmas!

If you are looking for a special gift for your genealogy sleuth this Christmas, why not give them the gift of connecting with their ancestral heritage. Take them to Scotland. Allow them time in the archives to research their roots. Tour their villages, town, graveyards. Learn the history and culture. Create a memory of a lifetime. Help your genealogist search their roots and discover their heritage. Non-genealogy partners travel for half price.

Monday, 21 October 2013


The May 2014 genealogy research trip in Scotland is now full. A waiting list is available pending cancellations. To be added to the list please contact:

The next scheduled trip is May 4- 13 2015

For more information check out the website's Tour Dates and Pricing page:

Plan now to give yourself the gift of heritage in 2015.

Saturday, 19 October 2013


Although it is still 6 months away, the May 2014 Genealogy Research trip is nearly full, with only one space remaining.

Is a genealogy research trip on YOUR bucket list? If you have always wanted to return to your homeland, walk where your ancestors walked, research in the various archives in Scotland, pay tribute to your ancestors at their grave, this is your chance. Give yourself the gift of heritage and book now before it is too late:

You know you want to.......

Friday, 27 September 2013

Last Chance to Book Your Ancestral Trip in Scotland

Following a very busy speaking schedule, there has been an increased interest in the Genealogy Research Trip in Scotland and although it is still 7 months away, it is very nearly full. Only two spaces remain.

If you are at a point in your Scottish research where you are considering a trip to Scotland, why not consider coming along on the May 2014 trip?

Being in an organized tour allows you protected time in the research facilities as well as introductory sessions on each repository and the records they hold.

Because they know we are coming, the research facilities often have extra help available to make our time more fruitful.

Monday, 26 August 2013


Following a couple of talks on Scottish Genealogy, spots on the May 2014 tour are booking up very quickly. In fact, only 5 spots remain. If you are interested in joining us for the trip to Edinburgh to research your Scottish Ancestors onsite, and have the opportunity to gain access to records not available online, visit the website.  

For more details or to book your place:

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Enjoy An Ancestral Holiday in Scotland

What better way to truly understand your ancestors than to visit their homeland?

If you are of Scottish descent, no trip to your ancestral homeland would be complete without a visit to the location where your ancestors actually lived. The beauty of Scotland is its compact size. Nothing is terribly far away, at least not for those of us from North America. This makes visiting your ancestor’s home area, and carrying out genealogy research, all possible in one vacation.  

From Glasgow, it is a 1 hour ride to Ayr, home of Robbie Burns, or just a 2 hour ride to Oban and then onward to any island in the West. Also from Glasgow it is a 3 1/2 hour ride to Inverness and the highlands. From Edinburgh, you can be in St Andrews or the Borders Region (Jedburgh, Peebles, Moffat) in just over an hour. In less than three you can be in Aberdeen, the Granite City 

While in the area of your ancestors, it is always a good idea to try to pop into the local family history society. The local societies will have local resources on hand (census reports, parish records, newspapers) and may also have school records, photographs of schools or school/church groups. They can give you a bit of the social history that you might be lacking especially in regards to where your ancestors worked or the specific village that they lived in. A list of the local genealogy societies can be found at: Click on the tab on the left side of the screen entitled “membership” for a full listing of the genealogy societies in Scotland.

If you are nervous about travelling on your own, why not join an organized tour? At Genealogy Tours of Scotland we offer 10 day research tours that include time at Scotland's People Centre, the Scottish Genealogy Society and the National Library.  Round the trip off with a night at The Scottish Experience Dinner Show.

We provide free time which will allow you to get to the area where your ancestor lived so that you can walk in his or her footsteps. We look forward to assisting you not just in making progress with your genealogy research, but also in gaining a better insight into your own Scottish heritage.

Book now for the May 2014 Tour:

Monday, 22 July 2013

Couple Discount for Genealogy Research Trip to Scotland

Do you want to go to Scotland to do some family history research? Are you looking to travel to Scotland with a partner but finding that cost is getting in the way? Why not take advantage of our couples discounts:

For one genealogy researcher and one non-genealogy researcher: This is a BOGO offer (Buy One Get One). Pay full fees for the researcher and then receive a 50% discount for the non-researcher. This applies to two people sharing a room. The fees for the non-researcher include breakfast daily, the Ceilidh, and some transportation fees. No research fees, lecture fees or other fees will be covered.

For two genealogy researchers, save the registration fees for one person. This again applies to two people sharing a room. Once both people have paid their fees in full, you will receive a refund for the second registration fee ($450).

These are equal opportunity discounts. The second person can be a spouse, partner, sibling, cousin, family member, partner or friend but must be willing to share the hotel room with you.

Book your trip now at:

Come to Scotland. Do your research onsite. Search your roots and discover YOUR heritage.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

You Can't Do All of Your Research Online

You will get to a point in your Scottish research where you can no longer get the information you seek online. You will either be looking for records that are too new to be published online, or that are too old to be readily found online. That is when it becomes necessary to either travel to Scotland or to hire a genealogist in Scotland to do the work for you. 

At the Scotland’s People Centre, you can view documents right up to the present day. These can not be copied or downloaded, but you can transcribe to your hearts content.

At the National Library, you can access national and regional newspapers, old maps, historical clubs and society records, emigration lists, trades directories, post office directories and a great deal more.
 At the Scottish Genealogy Society, you can view burial records, monumental inscriptions, some trades directories, voters rolls and more.

At the National Archives, you can access Kirk Session records, Court records, Fatal Accident Reports, Tax records and a host of other information to assist you in really knowing who your ancestors were.

Since this is likely to be a once in a lifetime trip, do yourself a favour and know what it is you hope to accomplish and where you can accomplish it. The worst thing you can do is just show up in Scotland and hope for the best. Traveling to the home of your ancestors takes planning. It is not enough to show up in the village, head to the local pub and start asking questions. You need to do some research ahead of time. Learn about what repositories are available, what archival materials they hold, who can access them and what is required to access them (do you need a “readers ticket” or special card? Do you need photo i.d? Do you need to provide passport photos so an i.d. card can be created for you?). Learn the hours that the repositories are open, whether an appointment or booking time is required and whether there are fees involved. 

Many archival institutions have their holdings off-site and so it is important that you know this and order ahead so that your time can be well spent and disappointment kept to a minimum. Read up on whether you are allowed to photograph the images, scan the images, download or copy the images. Take your laptop or tablet as well as a USB stick. 

A trip to your ancestral homeland is both awe-inspiring and humbling. It provides you with such a deep seated feeling of reverence knowing you stand in the same place where your ancestors walked. The sights, some of the landmarks and the sounds may have changed, but the deep emotion of knowing your great-great anything once stood in the same spot you are now standing in, or worshipped in the same church you are visiting, is incomparable. It helps you put the dates, names and places into perspective. It breathes life into the documents.


Friday, 12 July 2013

It's Not Too Soon to Book Up for the 2014 Tour

2014 has been designated as the Year of the Homecoming by the Scottish Government. The last homecoming, in 2009, was a rousing success for the Diaspora and clans from all over the world, but ran a major deficit financially for the hosting country, and particularly for the host city. As a result, there has been reluctance by City councils to take on hosting the event. However, June 2014 is also the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. Clans from all over the world, but primarily Canada, the US and Australia have determined that they will have gatherings of their own during the year of the Homecoming. These events will not be a mass gathering as has taken place in the past, but rather clans will gather on their own at various venues throughout the country and throughout the year. This means that tourism will be busy all year. Many clans have had their facilities and events booked since 2012. That said, hotel availability will be at a premium. As well, there is a large push by the Scottish Government to promote Ancestral Tourism during these events since the Diaspora will be returning to their ancestral homeland. This means that the archives will also be busier than usual. Genealogy Tours of Scotland is already booked for the 2014 Genealogy Research Trip, including hotel space. It will be difficult to secure further rooms at a later date, so all spaces in the 2014 tour will be on a first come, first serve basis and will only be considered confirmed once full fees have been received. Spots can be reserved on a temporary basis (pending full payment) by paying your deposit today at:


Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Stone Masons - True Artists

Having been introduced to the Apprentice Pillar in Rosslyn Chapel at a fairly young age,

I have had a lifelong fascination with the artwork created by Scotlands Stone Masons.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Clan Gatherings 2014

For several months now, the Clan Gathering events for Year of the Homecoming (2014) have been on again-off again and really left up in the air, leaving a bad taste in the mouths of most clans in North America.

According to VisitScotland, the various clans have gone ahead and worked out their own schedule of gatherings and events.

Here's where and when various clans are gathering in 2014

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Tombstone Tuesday - Ramshorn Cemetery Glasgow

Many of the City's merchants are buried in Ramshorn Cemetery. In spite of their wealth, their tombstones are incredibly simple:

Monday, 20 May 2013

History From A Genealogy Perspective

We all see the world from our own unique perspective. And much of that perspective is based on life experience: education, career, hobbies, situations we have lived through, books we have read. While trawling about Glasgow and Edinburgh recently, I found that even some unlikely things can be seen as "genealogy". I know that there is an entire specialty in the field of genealogy regarding tracing house histories. It involved pouring over land documents and deeds. But just look at how the genealogy of these buildings can be discovered just by reading the door jamb:

Similarly, the entire "genealogy"of the Order of the Thistle is documented on these walls in St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh:

Lots of information on the genealogy of both the buildings and the Order of the Thistle. Not quite sure how you cite "written on the wall" as a source, however!

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Our Last Day

Today is our last day together as a group. It has been a busy but productive journey. This was also the final day for tying up loose ends in our research. And we capped the evening off with a good old fashioned Scottish Ceilidh at the Taste of Scotland Show at historic Prestonfield. A wonderful way to end our time together and to immerse ourselves in our heritage.

Week Two - Making Connections

Monday was open so that those wishing to could travel to the area where their ancestors lived to experience the sights, sounds, smells and landscape for themselves. One participant traveled to Paisley. Although not terribly fulfilling in terms of finding living relatives, she was able to gain a better sense of the area and times her ancestors lived in. She found the people at the Paisley Library extremely helpful.

Another participant traveled to Dumfriesshire with the aide of Ian Walker at Borders Journeys. Ian was able to personalize the tour and help her find locations she was aware of through reading documents.
I headed to Motherwell to the Lanarkshire Family History Society. They have helped to steer me in the right direction for future research. 
Then I was able to meet up with a couple of cousins who were wonderful enough to bring old family photos to share! Over a meal, we scanned photos and shared memories. We were also able to catch up on other family members.
All too soon, it was time to catch the train back to Edinburgh.

The evening was spent with my favourite uncle who loved seeing the photos I had been able to scan today. With his help, we were able to identify some of the mystery photos.

It was so good to connect with family and as an added bonus, my uncle agreed to share his DNA!


Tombstone Tuesday - Indulgence of a Taphophile

This week's cemetery jaunt was the Ramshorn Cemetery in Glasgow's Merchant City. Many of the well to do merchants are entombed here.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Sunday - A Day of Rest

The past week has been a very busy week. We have visited three different archival repositories as well as a conference. Today and tomorrow have been set aside for "local" research. Participants can travel to the area where their ancestors lived. And tomorrow, if they wish, they can do research at their local family history society. After visiting the marketplace at the SAFHS conference yesterday we have a better idea of what local resources are available.

For a number of us, today was a day of rest. Shopping, visiting tourist attractions, day long coach tours. I wandered down to Princes Street to do some shopping.

Then I wandered over to the Royal Mile and visited Gladstone Land, another NTS attraction. Which of course means "no photography" once inside.


Gladstone's Land is the original 1617 tenement home of Thomas Gledstanes, a merchant, landowner and property developer. A bit more upscale than the tenements depicted at the Tenement House Museum in Glasgow. Thomas was a trader in prunes, that were sought by the well to do in Edinburgh. Thomas and his wife, Bessie Cunningham lived in this home for the remainder of their lives, Thomas dying in 1654 at the age of 74. By then he was a widow.
 The wealthier families would have kept a pig which would have fed from scraps on the street. In the winter, the pig would have been killed and then the family would have dined on the meat which would be salted for preservation.
After a wander along to see what sights/characters the High Street held today, it was back to the hotel to enjoy a latte and sit with feet up while pouring over the information from earlier this week.

Extra bonus today - SAFHS Conference

We had an early start today as we travelled through the beautiful Scottish Borders to attend the SAFHS Conference in Galashiels. This year's conference theme was "Comings and Goings, Migration and Scotland". There were six very informative talks on the agenda:

Scotland and Migration by Dr Ian Wotherspoon. Dr Wotherspoon spoke about the impact that the Scots Diaspora have had on the countries they have emigrated to.

Droving and Drove Roads in Northumberland by Dr Ian Roberts. Dr Roberts spoke of the history of the drove roads as well as the social history associated with droving.

Emigration and Immigratrion Records on the Internet. Ken shared a number of valuable online resources that will assist researchers trying to track their emigrant ancestors.

Following Ken's talk, we were given an hour to have lunch and to visit the marketplace.

The first of the afternoon talks was given by Andrew Armstrong who spoke on Researching the Buccleuch Estate Papers. Andrew's focus was on the genealogical information that can be gleaned from the Rental Books.

Next up was Jennifer Bruce who spoke on the Border Shepherds in Caithness. In particular Jennifer spoke on the impact of Thomas Telford.

The last talk of the day was given by Sheila Assante who spoke on the Migration Stories in the National Portrait Gallery.

In addition to the talks, there was a very large marketplace of family history related vendors. These were spread throughout the building with the bulk of them being in the cafe. One should never underestimate the resources, information or assistance available through the local family history societies. For the most part, the volunteers were kept very busy and people were walking away with new ideas of where to look to assist in breaking down their genealogical brick walls.

As an outsider, it was a bit curious to me that only one speaker offered handouts. I find that days like  these provide a great deal of information and really, it tends to be far too much for one mind to absorb and retain. Handouts to refer to later are always helpful in both being able to recall what the speaker said and also in providing additional ideas of where to look for further steps in your research. In North America, delegates are given a syllabus of all of the handouts so that even if attendees were unable to get to a talk, they were able to access a synopsis of the talk, and not just of the speakers.\

All in all, however, the day was very well done. Kudos to the Borders Family History Society on a very productive, very informative day!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Research Day Four - National Library of Scotland

Today was spent at the National Library of Scotland.

Most of the morning was spent in a session learning about all that the NLS has to offer people who are researching their family history. Then after a quick tour, it was time to hit the collections. Newspapers were consulted, trades and city directories poured over, maps consulted and books perused. While not quite as productive a day from a research perspective, we have learned a great deal about what resources are available to family historians and we have a keener understanding of the lives and times in which our ancestors lived.

Looking forward to the SAFHS conference tomorrow in Galashiels.