Becoming an Urban Detective: the basics

How to start researching and recording Scotland’s towns and cities for future generations.

Becoming an Urban Detective: add a text comment to an existing site

This step-by-step guide explains how you can add information and memories about places in Scotland's towns and cities.

Becoming an Urban Detective: classify a site

Urban Detectives classify Scottish sites in our archive. With this guide, you can help us classify sites like churches, schools, factories, parks and other types of structure or space.

An introduction to recording buildings

Our guidance notes have been prepared to help persons with no previous, or only limited, experience of recording buildings to undertake a basic survey of a building.

What is graphic recording?

This section will introduce you to the process of graphically recording buildings and architectural detail.

A question of scale

Before beginning a survey with the view to creating a survey drawing you will need to decide what the key elements of a structure are and how best to depict them; the level of detail you can show will depend on the scale of the drawing.

Drawing materials and techniques

There are a number of readily available options for the surveyor/draughtsman when it comes to media and materials for creating a survey drawing. Similarly there are particular techniques and symbols that can be applied to lend your drawing clarity. Some of these options are covered in the section b ...

Survey Methods - section one: sketching

Each of the methods outlined here can provide a very useful record in its own right. However, often the most effective way to survey a site is to use a combination of the different methods.

Survey Methods - section two: baseline and offset

This method involves establishing a ‘primary baseline’ parallel to and/or through the features you want to record, and measuring the distance to the features from this known line.

Building elevations and sections

Creating a scaled elevation drawing is a fairly straightforward way of adding a third, vertical dimension to the drawn record of your site. Creating a section drawing shares many of the 
points covered for elevations and plans and work well in conjunction.

Plane table and alidade survey

Plane table surveying is a very effective way of getting to grips with all the basic rules of survey to record angles and distances. Modern digital technological instruments are designed and constructed on these same fundamental principles. Plane table surveying is best carried out by a minimum of t ...

Downloadable Resource: An Introduction to Recording Buildings

A downloadable version of all our resources about recording buildings.

Research resources 3: buildings, towns and cities

Here you will find information about, and links to, a range of research resources on the design of cities, towns and buildings. The books and journals listed are available in local authority libraries or archives, and the Historic Environment Scotland search room in John Sinclair House, 16 Bernard T ...