An image of a doodle wall with sketches by students

Happy Doodle Day! We’d love to be able to show you how Robert Adam doodled his way through a boring client meeting, or how Basil Spence amused himself during a tedious school lesson, but sadly doodles don’t tend to survive too well.

However, in honour of the diverting art of doodling, we’ve pulled some sketches out of the archives to share with you. While not doodles in the strict sense of the word, these sketches do have various things in common – having been speedily drawn on whatever came to hand, or with comic intent.

Early Architecture

The early ‘workings-out’ of an architecture project, when the architect’s mind is roaming around a design challenge, don’t often survive. The Basil Spence Archive contains a fair few design doodles though, especially for his British Pavilion at Montreal’s Expo ’67.

Spence drew constantly – on napkins, menus, and even sick bags like this one!

Image of an architect's sketches of ideas for a new building

Basil Spence’s initial ideas for the British Pavilion at Expo 67, Montreal.

Doodle Decor

The Scott Morton design archive is full of early sketches which have a ‘doodly’ quality to them. These fine fellows are alternative ideas for decorating the Thistle Chapel in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh.

An image of an architect's sketches of two bulls

Alternative doodle ideas for decorating the Thistle Chapel in St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinbugh.

Doodles or desecration?

The line between doodling and graffiti is often blurred. Shortly before it was demolished in 2010, the walls at Glasgow School of Art‘s Foulis Building become communal doodling spaces.

An image of a doodle wall with sketches by students

The ‘Doodle Wall’ graffiti space in the Foulis Building, Glasgow School of Art.

This is not a new thing. During World War Two, workers at the Ministry of Supply Factory in Dalbeattie did the same. They filled the walls with poems, and sketched pin-ups and song lyrics to give them some relief from manufacturing explosives.

Image of a worker's doodle of a man looking at a boat

Workers used the whitewashed walls of the Ministry of Supply Factory, Dalbeattie as a huge doodle pad.

Image of a factory worker's doodle of women

Workers sketched pin-ups as light relief from manufacturing explosives during WWII.

Diary-style Doodles

The pages of our historic photograph albums, such as the Isabel Asher Album, are often filled with little sketches and comments.

It’s not all drawings of buildings and monuments, though. The St Andrews Sketchbook has a mixture of views of St Andrews Cathedral, and cartoon animals!

An image of an artists sketch of birds in a photo album

The Isabel Asher Album of 1904.

Image of sketches of cartoon animals

The St Andrews Sketchbook contains doodles and drawings of cartoon animals.

Digital Doodles?

Is the doodle doomed in the age of the internet, now we can stave off boredom with browsing the web rather than doodling?

A scout around the offices here at HES suggests its days are not quite numbered! Here are a few of the doodles still appearing on our pages…

Image of a doodle of Bonnie Prince Charlie

Image of a sketch of a man

Image of an artistic doodle with colourful patterns and designs

Image of a sketch of a furry creature

Image of an artistic sketch of Skara Brae

Take a look at our Doodle Day Gallery on Canmore and if you’d like to see the originals, come and visit our Search Room.


About Author


Jane Thomas

Jane Thomas is Research and Exhibitions Manager in the Marketing and Engagement Directorate. She joined the National Monuments Record of Scotland in 1989 and worked for many years curating our historic material and bringing in important collections of architect’s papers, such as those of Basil Spence. Jane now works with colleagues across HES and beyond to share our amazing resources for everyone to enjoy.