A Unique Look Into the Life Of Burns as Artefacts Go Online

Over 2,500 historic items from our internationally important collections at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum are now available to explore from anywhere in the world.

The National Trust For Scotland has launched a new portal that gives unprecedented access to manuscripts, archives and artefacts, including over 1,000 items that are held in store for their long-term preservation and protection.

Thanks to funding from a member of our Patrons’ Club and the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, anyone with an interest in Burns from across the world can now visit our website and engage with Burns artefacts as never before.

View the Robert Burns Collection online

With the ability to zoom in on high-resolution images to see full details on manuscripts and objects that would usually be displayed behind glass, the online collection allows users to experience Burns up close and personal – from previously undisplayed handwritten manuscripts by Robert Burns, to sharing the recently acquired items from the Blavatnik Honresfield Library, alongside photographs, letters, objects and wider archival material.

A close-up photo of the end of a handwritten letter from Robert Burns, where he has signed his name on the bottom right corner. Burns has used a brownish ink on parchment-style paper. The letter has been mounted on cream card.
Robert Burns’s signature at the bottom of one of the manuscripts in the collection

The collection is organised under four categories:

  • Burns the man
  • Myths and folklore
  • Relationships
  • Memorialisation and legacy

Highlights include a fragment of one of only six known manuscripts of ‘Auld Lang Syne’ dating from 1793; Jean Armour’s wedding ring; a lock of Highland Mary’s hair; and Burns’s blue woollen initialled socks. There are also many manuscripts that have not previously been on display, including ‘Lament of Mary, Queen of Scots’, ‘On The Approach of Spring’, ‘Scots Wha Hae’ and an unbound, uncut copy of the Kilmarnock Edition of Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect.

Susie Hillhouse, Collections Manager at the National Trust for Scotland, said: ‘We are excited to be bringing our incredible Robert Burns Collection to people across the world through this online platform. This project, which has been in the works for over 12 months, will allow people to engage with items in the collections like never before. We’re currently only able to show a proportion of these items at our award-winning Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. Now, anyone will be able to search the collections, and zoom in to tiny details and experience the full collection of over 2,500 items, 24/7, from anywhere in the world.’

“The time and investment that has gone into creating this online collection demonstrates the Trust’s commitment to making heritage accessible for everyone.”
Susie Hillhouse
Collections Manager at the National Trust for Scotland
A smiling woman stands in a room with a lot of framed paintings on the wall. She has shoulder-length red hair, and wears a white scarf.

Created in partnership with digital partners Cogapp and Knowledge Integration, the integrated platform also provides access to audio recordings and newly commissioned articles from Burns experts, who will shine a light on different aspects of his life and legacy.

Ali MacLeod, Head of Fundraising at the National Trust for Scotland said: ‘It’s thanks to the support of a member of our Patrons’ Club, whose generosity was matched by donations from the National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, that we’re able to bring this project to life. We hope that we can learn from this project and that it might pave the way for us to develop further online collections as part of our strategy to make Scotland’s important history accessible to everyone – both now and in the future.’

The National Trust for Scotland cares for more than 5,000 Burns-related items at Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway. The site includes an award-winning museum experience, as well as the cottage where Burns was born in 1759.

This new online offering contributes to our vision to deliver Nature, Beauty and Heritage for Everyone, as outlined in our 10-year strategy. Caring for over 100 places across the country, as well as a vast archive telling the stories of some key moments in Scottish history, we are focused on caring for, sharing and conserving Scotland’s heritage, while making it accessible to everyone.

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