About
Abbotshall Palaeography

Image showing the view north over part of Abbotshall parish

Abbotshall Palaeography is a small business based in Kirkcaldy, on the east coast of Scotland, run by Robert Urquhart, an archivist and palaeographer.

Robert Urquhart

I studied History at Aberdeen University, Archive Studies at University College London, and sciences with the Open University.

After thirteen years working as an archivist in local archives in the west of Scotland I moved to the National Archives of Scotland in Edinburgh. I worked there for twenty years, mostly on widening access to archives via digitisation and online service development.

My teaching experience includes running classes in palaeography, local history and administrative history, on behalf of various Higher Education and Adult Education institutions, such as Glasgow University and Dundee University, and historical societies like the Scottish Records Association.

As a freelance palaeographer and researcher I have carried out transcription work, proof-reading and research commissions for individual and corporate clients, including academic historians and projects, family history researchers and archaeologists.

My current interests include early-modern wills and testaments, kirk session and other church court records, and the links between Scotland and the Netherlands between the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

What is palaeography?

Palaeography is the study of older forms of handwriting. Historical records written in Scotland in the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were written in a variety, or mixture, of handwriting styles and in languages such as Scots. It is possible to learn the handwriting styles and languages to be able to read and understand the historical sources. Or you can have an experienced palaeographer make a transcription, translation and explanation. If you need assistance with early-modern Scottish records, find out how I can help.

Image showing the word 'abbotshall' written in early-modern handwriting

The word 'abbottshall' written in early modern handwriting

Why Abbotshall?

Abbotshall is an area of Kirkcaldy, which was a parish in its own right from 1620 until it was absorbed into the parish of Kirkcaldy and Dysart in 1901. I was born in what was once Abbotshall parish and live near there now.

Image showing Abbotshall kirk in Kirkcaldy

Abbotshall kirk in Kirkcaldy