Scottish ancestry

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Homecoming Scotland 2014
Homecoming 2014 ››

Find out more about Homecoming 2014

A clan parade in Edinburgh.
Search for your clan ››

Search the Scotclans database to find your clan and learn all about the time of your ancestors in Scotland.

A couple gaze out over Edinburgh from Calton Hill
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Many people across the world are lucky enough to have ancestral ties to Scotland, but not everyone has uncovered their connection yet - why not delve into our history books and discover if you are in good company, joining millions of others with Scottish ancestry?

If you already know you’re a proud Scot, you can always uncover more colourful details about your family’s past by visiting some of the ancestral attractions Scotland has to offer.

Find out about relatives you never knew existed by tracing your family tree back in time, or discover the occupation of your ancestors and the trade that kept them busy. Scotland has a number of great resources so you can start your search right now.

Look up your surname using the clan search, which will tell you if you’re connected to one of the great Scottish families. You can also try searching other surnames in your family, such as your mother’s maiden name. If you find a matching Scottish clan, you can find out more about them and their place in history.

To go deeper into your family tree, visit ScotlandsPeople, the official government website where you can search birth, marriage, death and census records stretching back over hundreds of years, or if you are in Edinburgh, you can visit the ScotlandsPeople Centre in person.

Once you find that special connection to Scotland, you can plan a trip to visit the towns and streets where your ancestors once walked. Pay a visit to local libraries and archives to find out more about that area and see pictures of how it looked when your relatives lived there.

Make sure to consider locations such as the Orkney Isles in your search for ancestors as whole families left the islands in times of hardship to seek a new life on the other side of the world. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Hudson’s Bay Company recruited at Stromness in Orkney for young men to make the passage across the Atlantic to Canada.

Contact the Orkney Family History Society, run by volunteers who work closely with the local library and archive system, to find out more.

  • Very old ledger sits open surrounded by other old volumes of books
    Old parish registers are a valuable source of information for ancestor-hunters
  • People admiring the Broch of Gurness, Evie
    Broch of Gurness, Evie
  • The statue dedicated to the Declaration of Arbroath at Arbroath, Angus
    The statue dedicated to the Declaration of Arbroath at Arbroath, Angus
  • The family tree of Mrs Chris Lawson on display at the Seallam! Visitor Centre, Northton, Isle of Harris
    A family tree at the Seallam! Visitor Centre, Northton, Isle of Harris
The memorial to the massacre at Glencoe

Ancestry itineraries

Find out more about your ancestors using our itineraries around Scotland.

Close-up of the spines of a run of old bound books

Trace your Scottish family tree

Discover your 'inner Scot' and track down your Scottish ancestors and family roots.

Close up of the tartan of the Maclean clan and brooch

Clans

Few aspects of Scotland’s fascinating history were as colourful, or as bloody, as the clan system.

The statue of Adam Smith on Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

Famous Scots

Discover famous scots and how they made a significant contribution to their genre.

Two Highland dancers, wearing kilts, at the Gathering, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh

Uniquely Scottish

Discover the different historical and culture elements that can be rightly claimed to be unique to this country.

Looking up to Edinburgh Castle at the top of Arthur's Seat

History

Uncover Scotland’s literary greats, trace back your family history and marvel at some truly breathtaking castles and monuments.

Airport arrivals board showing overseas city names

Plan your trip

Plan your trip to Scotland, in the north west of Europe, using our detailed travel advice, practical information and accommodation.

Big Sands beach, Highlands

Scotland's regions

Explore the 15 different regions of Scotland with travel, accommodation and ideas on things to see and do.

The crowd at the main stage at T in the Park, Balado

Events & festivals

Search our comprehensive what's on listings for arts, culture, music and festival events and Highland games in Scotland.

The Jacobite steam train puffs its way across the impressive arches of the Glenfinnan viaduct near Lochaber, Highlands

Tours

Tour Scotland by car, bike or train, on guided coach and bus tours or even a hire a boat and discover how the country’s compact nature lends itself to touring. Enjoy themed trips, including whisky tours and castle tours, to make the most of your visit.