Two keepers safeguard Scotland's land

Published: 31 August 2016

Work to complete the picture of who owns Scotland has been given a boost by the addition to the Land Register of Scotland of the iconic General Register House on Edinburgh’s Princes Street.

The move sees Scotland’s two official keepers – the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland and the Keeper of the Records of Scotland – working in collaboration.

Situated at the east end of Princes Street, General Register House is the home of National Records of Scotland, which produces and holds information about Scotland’s people and history. The registration of the historic building makes National Records of Scotland the first public body to add all of its property to the digital, map-based land register.

General Register House is one of the oldest custom-built archive buildings still in use in the world, commissioned after it was recognised Scotland’s archives needed a “proper repository” in the mid-18th century, and opened to the public in 1789. Today, National Records of Scotland holds information spanning the 12th to the 21st centuries, touching on virtually every aspect of Scottish life.

Scotland’s land register is to be completed by 2024, with all public land registered by 2019. The project is being driven by Registers of Scotland in response to Scottish Ministers’ wish to move all land and property titles from the 400-year-old, deeds-based General Register of Sasines onto the land register.

A complete land register will make property transactions easier, faster and cheaper with titles receiving a state-backed guarantee of ownership. It will also allow anyone across Scotland to find out exactly who owns what and where via an online search.

Sheenagh Adams, the Keeper of the Registers of Scotland, said: “It’s fantastic to see such a significant building added onto the land register. A complete land register will benefit the country as a whole, and National Records of Scotland’s registration of all of its property is a milestone in the journey towards that goal. We’re working closely with other public bodies, many of which have large and complex landholdings, to help them get their land onto the register.”

Tim Ellis, the Keeper of the Records of Scotland, said: “National Records of Scotland produces and preserves information that tells the story of our nation, so it is fitting that we’re the first public body to add all our property to this new register which will make it clear who owns Scotland. The special nature of our buildings means this was a great opportunity to ensure the register was up to date and accurate, while preserving the original deeds for the future.”