The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

by Dr. David Caldwell

The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland is the premier national society for the study of Scotland’s history, archaeology, ethnology and heritage. The Society was founded in Edinburgh in 1780 by David Steuart Erskine, 11th Earl of Buchan, and was granted a royal charter by King George III in 1783. It now has 2,700 members (known as Fellows), mostly in Scotland, but many elsewhere in the United Kingdom and Europe, and also across the globe, including in North America and Australia.


The Society of Antiquaries of Scotland

The Antiquaries are a learned Society, not an institution, and a major focus is on encouraging all those interested in Scotland and its past, whether professionals or amateurs, to join together in various ways in promoting research and projects, publication and dissemination of material of interest. The Society is a major source of grants and awards, information about which can be found on its website. Fellows have privileged access to the library of the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh where the Society has its offices.

Series of lectures are supported each year in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, and increasingly others are hosted in other Scottish locations. A high point each year is the Rhind Lectures, normally a group of six lectures on a specialist topic delivered by a leading expert. Lectures are filmed and are freely available on the Society’s website. Other meetings are less formal, including an annual bus trip and behind-the-scenes visits to museums, exhibitions and organisations involved in Scotland’s past. We also have an increasing number of events hosted with partners such as Investec Wealth and Management and Lyon and Turnbull’s Edinburgh auction house.

The Antiquaries are a major publisher. From 1792 to 1890 five volumes of transactions, The Antiquaries play a major role in advocacy, advising and commenting on government policies other consultations and promoting best practice. The Society supports and manages major initiatives, notably including the Scottish Archaeological Research Framework (ScARF), and Dig It!, a celebration of Scottish archaeology.Archaeologia Scotica, were issued, and from 1851 to date annual Proceedings, all (but the most recent Proceedings), freely available to anyone on-line. The same is true of the 80 or so Scottish Archaeological Internet Reports published since 2001. There is also a distinguished series of books and monographs, several still in print and available to order through the Society’s website.

The Society and its affairs are overseen by an elected Council of Trustees, headed by a President, currently Dr David Caldwell. Day to day administration and management of the Society is carried out by a small staff led by the Director, Dr Simon Gilmour. Both Council and staff are keen to increase the number of Fellows, especially overseas. There are flourishing voluntary groups in North America and Australia, and plans afoot to support or undertake events in those places.

For more information on the Society, its activities, publications and lectures, and how to become a Fellow, go to the website:

Fellows have the right to use the post-nominal FSA Scot.

Society of Antiquaries of Scotland YouTube Channel:

Lecture on “The Scottish Identity: as illustrated through recent discoveries in Scottish silver" by Colin T Fraser FSA Scot, R L Christie Works of Art. Presented in the NMS Auditorium on 23 April 2018 at 6pm. Followed by a reception sponsored by Gillespie MacAndrew solicitors.


Christmas Around the World – Spain

Last year we started a little section about Christmas around the world by introducing some Christmas Carols from other countries. So this year the carol is from Spain although it has been heard in Mexico as well. It has a very beautiful melody. We hope you will enjoy it.


La Virgen lava pañales (link here in case the embedded video below doesn't work)

The version on this web site is perhaps the most dramatic, performed as it is by the NY Philharmonic and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. You will notice that some the text on the web site is done in English and some in Spanish. Below however is the text in Spanish

La virgen lava pañales
y los tiende en el romero
y los pajaritos cantan
y el agua se va yendo
Pastores, venid
Pastores llegad
a adorar al niño,
a adorar al niño
que ha nacido ya
El niño Dios se ha perdido
y todos le están buscando
a la orilla del río
el estaba pescando
pastores venid
Pastores llegad
The virgin washed the swaddling
and tends them in rosemary
and the little birds sang
and the water was flowing
Shepherds came
Shepherds went
To worship the child
To worship the child.
who has already been born
The child god is lost
and all are looking for him
On the bank of the river
He was fishing
Shepherds came
Shepherds went

Happy Soltice