The MacKinnon Collection | Can you help identify these images?

The National Galleries of Scotland and National Library of Scotland are in the process of cataloguing the 14,000-strong MacKinnon Collection of photographs. Jointly acquired by the organisations in 2018, the collection - also known as Scotland's Photos - provides a snapshot of life in Scotland between 1840 and 1940.

Unknown Man selling fruit and vegetables from a cart in a flooded street 1928

As we continue to open windows into the MacKinnon Collection, we are regularly posting images on this page and the Galleries' Facebook page in order to seek the public’s range of backgrounds and experiences to:

  • Identify unknown people and landmarks
  • Lend knowledge of historic industries, businesses, transport, costume, sport and more
  • Spot historic inaccuracies
  • Contribute relevant descriptive information.


Your diverse knowledge, expertise, insight and interest will help us document the MacKinnon Collection with the goal of providing greater access to this remarkable photographic resource. Do you recognise anything or anyone? Please email: [email protected]

Clockwise from left, George Washington Wilson, Linn of Dee, 1860s-1880s; James Valentine, The Braemar Gathering, 1860s-1870s and Attributed to George Washington Wilson, A bagpipe lesson, 1860s.


The popularity of Braemar as a destination in the late nineteenth century is reflected in these shots taken by photographers George Washington Wilson and James Valentine. As we continue to shine a light on images from the MacKinnon Collection, we're keen to hear from anyone who may be able to help us apply more specific dates to these photographs. As ever, please get in touch via email: [email protected]

Below are the images we have shared already, plus some of the information our visitors have been able to provide.

J Dryburgh, Lawn tennis tournament St Andrews, 28 August 1886, 1886

St Andrews

We're really enjoying our exploration of the MacKinnon Collection, and are thrilled to share these images taken in St Andrews between the 1860s and 1930s.

As always, we'd love to hear from anyone who recognises a person or landmark in these photographs!

Valentine and Sons, The Harbour, 1930s
Thomas Rodger, Rock and Spindle St Andrews, 1860s


Do you recognise anything (or anyone) in these images of nineteenth century Shetland? As we continue to open windows into the MacKinnon Collection, we're asking you to contribute any observations you may have on the photographs. Recognise a person or landmark? The team would love to hear from you! Please email: [email protected]

Clockwise from top: Robert Henderson Ramsay, Dressing Shetland Shawls, about 1900; George Washington Wilson, Bressay Lighthouse, 1860s-1880s; James Valentine, Peat Carriers, 1860s-1870s.
Clockwise from left: Unknown photographer, A Shetland Peat Carrier, early 20th century; Raising Peats, about 1910; James Valentine, A Shetland Crofter, 1860s-1870s.


Unknown photographer, Sandgate, Ayr, 1930s.
Photographer unknown, The beach at Ayr, about 1890s.
Unknown photographer, Two elderly men sitting outside, Market Scene and Young boy eating in street, 1904.


These snapshots were taken within the City of Discovery between around 1904-1940. 

Unknown photographer, High Street, 1940s Davidson Brothers, Sunlit docks, about 1910 and unknown photographer Street scene, 1904.
Valentine & Sons, Dundee from the Law, 1910-1920, Davidson Brothers High Street, Dundee, 1900-1910 and unknown photographer, Reform Street, 1920s.


Unknown, Group of People and Cart in Flooded Street, Brechin, 1890s-1910s
George Washington Wilson, Brechin from the Bridge, 1860s-1880s
Unknown High Street, Inverness, 1920s-1930s


These fascinating snapshots were taken in the Highland capital between around 1860-1930. We have featured a couple of images by George Washington Wilson and James Valentine, but there is also work here by unknown photographers, such as the shot of the High Street, pictured right. Do you recognise anything, for example a business, that might help us more accurately date these images? We're really excited about these images and can't wait to hear from you.

From top: Unknown, Caledonian Canal, Muirtown, Inverness, about 1900; James Valentine, Inverness, from Huntly Place, 1860s-1880s; George Washington Wilson, The Ness Islands, Inverness, 1860s-1880s.
Clockwise from top: George Washington Wilson, Group on bridge; The Castle and Bridge, Inverness and Caledonian Canal from Tomnahurich, 1860s-1880s.

North Berwick

We were thrilled to discover a number of photographs of North Berwick within the collection.

Clockwise from top: James Valentine North Berwick, Unknown North Berwick, The Rowers 1898 and George Washington Wilson Quality St. North Berwick.
Clockwise from top: James Valentine Canty Bay, North Berwick, Craig Leith from North Berwick and Unknown North Berwick Law.


Unknown Bridge Street, Kirkwall early 20th century
Unknown Kirkwall Harbour early 20th century
George Washington Wilson St. Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall c 1860s-1880s
James Valentine Earl's Palace, Kirkwall c 1860s-1870s
Photographer unknown Group with creels at Buckie Railway Station dated 1906; George Washington Wilson The First In and Buckie from the east c 1860s-1880s.


We were thrilled to share these images of Buckie, particularly those of the town's railway station, which closed in 1968.

The main image shows a group waiting on the station platform with creels. Professor Peter Reid of Robert Gordon University explained that they were likely to be travelling inland on the train to sell fish door to door. 

The other images, taken by George Washington Wilson, show views of the town that are little changed today. Professor Reid noted that the boats on the shore will be Zulus and Fifies. This could be ahead of the advent of the steam drifters in the 1900s, dating the image in the late 1880s.

Week one

We began this project in early May 2020 by sharing these three images. Almost immediately, visitors were able to identify the main photograph. It shows the path running between Crovie to Gardenstown, east of Banff.  We are updating the photograph's catalogue entry accordingly!

The MacKinnon Collection was acquired jointly with the National Library of Scotland with assistance from National Lottery Heritage Fund, Scottish Government and the Art Fund.