Many people across Scotland are familiar with the term ‘scran’ meaning ‘food’. To folk with an interest in history and heritage, though, Scran is the name of a useful and popular website.

Scran joins HES

In 2015 we welcomed Scran –  or the Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network – to our collection of databases. Scran offers users access to nearly half a million images, videos and sounds from hundreds of Scottish galleries, museums and archives, big and small, from Shetland to the Borders.

Fully searchable, Scran has explanatory captions describing each record, including materials from:

And hundreds more.  We host lots of amazing images of historic buildings and architecture, our stock in trade – but our collections also feature sport, religion, art and design, science, social history, cultural history and more.  Scran is a bit like Scotland’s digital memory bank.

Here are some of our favourite Scottish memories…

Last King of Scotland

black and white image of Elvis Presley hugging a woman and surrounded by other fans at Prestwick Airport

© Newsquest (Herald & Times). Licensor

Despite his worldwide popularity, ‘The King’ – better known as Elvis Presley – famously never performed outside North America. But Presley did set foot on British soil one time, landing at Glasgow’s Prestwick Airport for an hour as he changed planes in 1960. The Daily Herald photographers were on hand to capture the moment for posterity, and today you can find this image on Scran.

Head Master

© Fife Council Museums: Kirkcaldy. Licensor

© Fife Council Museums: Kirkcaldy. Licensor

David Mach is one of Scotland’s most prolific artists, notable for his unusual use of materials. His most recognisable artwork is probably the ‘Big Heids’, three orange metal heads placed atop shipping containers that are passed by thousands of motorists on the M8 each day. His sculpture “Dad” is made of wire coat-hangers, and is owned by Fife Council Museums, who kindly licensed this image to Scran. You can see more of David Mach’s work here.

Fergie Time

© Aberdeen City Council. Licensor

© Aberdeen City Council. Licensor

Sir Alex Ferguson is just one of the Scottish footballing greats on Scran; others include Kenny Dalglish, Jock Stein and Bill Shankly. Here he is in 1999 receiving the freedom of the city of Aberdeen, whose football team he managed before his record-breaking managerial career at Manchester United.  See more of Sir Alex on Scran.


© The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Licensor

© The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Licensor

David Bowie performed in Scotland many times, and two of his performances are documented on Scran, courtesy of The Scotsman newspaper. Here he is in 1983 at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Stadium on the ‘Serious Moonlight’ tour flanked by bass player Carmine Rojas and guitarist Carlos Alomar. More Bowie pics here.

Flounders, Bloaters and Griddle Cakes

© Scottish Life Archive. Licensor

© Scottish Life Archive. Licensor

We don’t just host photographs. You can find thousands of documents, diary pages, maps, letters, musical manuscripts and more on Scran. This menu, from the Canadian Pacific liner the Empress of Canada in 1964, gives an insight into the unusual eating habits of our ancestors (creamed chicken for breakfast, anyone?), as well as documenting the passage of Scottish emigrants to Canada. It’s part of the Scottish Life Archive at the National Museum of Scotland.

P-pick Up A Penguin (Egg)

© Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Perth & Kinross Council. Licensor

© Perth Museum and Art Gallery, Perth & Kinross Council. Licensor

Talking of breakfasts, can you imagine tucking into one of these with a round of toast? It’s a penguin’s egg, and while it’s certainly possible to eat penguin’s eggs, this particular example dates from 1903 and so probably wouldn’t be edible. 7 cm high, it was collected on an Antarctic voyage, and now resides in Perth Museum and Art Gallery.

Accessing and using Scran

We host material from other museums, galleries and archives under licence – but the service is currently free to use!

If you have any questions about access we’re happy to help – just send us an email.


About Author


Andrew James

Andrew James is one of our Education Officers. He joined the Scran team after studying for an MPhil at Glasgow School of Art, and has a wide range of experience in museums, galleries, archives and education.