About the Sound Archive
The School of Scottish Studies was established in 1951, at the University of Edinburgh, to collect, preserve, research, and publish material relating to the cultural traditions and folklore of Scotland. Over the past 70 years, staff and student fieldworkers at the School have made approximately 33,000 recordings, including songs, instrumental music, tales, customs, beliefs, and local history.
The early collectors visited crofting, farming, and fishing communities obtaining information on a range of subjects such as the life of farm servants, the agricultural year, food gathering and preparation, house construction, the herring industry, traditional medicine, animal husbandry, emigration, whaling, religion, weather lore, lifecycle, and seasonal customs. Urban life has also been documented and there are recollections of shipbuilding, factory work, transport, housing and street life, schooling, as well as contemporary fieldwork examining the re-invention of customs and use of ‘heritage’.
Material in the Sound Archive comes from all over Scotland and its diaspora, and as well as being a rich repository of oral tradition it is invaluable for its range of dialects and accents in Gaelic, Scots, and English.
The School’s extensive collections, known as the School of Scottish Studies Archives (SSSA), also include fieldwork equipment, photographs from the 1930s onwards, film and video, and manuscripts, a selection of which are on display within the exhibition.
Explore the Sound Archive
Some of the recordings can be listened to online
at Tobar an Dualchais.
The School of Scottish Studies Archives are open to
researchers and members of the public. Visits can
be arranged by appointment.
Other sound collections at the University of Edinburgh