Most of the searches carried out by Landownership Scotland involve identifying the owner of areas of ground. The first stage in this procedure usually involves looking in the Land Register or the Search Sheets to identify likely titles. If the title is in the Land Register, in most cases the search will be fairly straightforward. If not, having identified possible Sasines titles, experience comes into play to work out those most likely to include a plan or a good description of the property.
The next stage is to visit Register House to examine Record Volumes, which contain a copy of the complete deed. Again experience is required to minimise costs, as the National Records of Scotland charge £5 + VAT for every Record Volume examined. If the deed includes relevant information, a copy can be ordered to be sent along with the letter detailing ownership.
Sometimes the Search Sheets have to be consulted several times, with more deeds being examined each time, before an answer can be found. This can take several days, depending on the complexity of the enquiry and the skill of the searcher.
Although some old deeds included excellent plans, there was no means of reproducing these in the Record Volumes prior to 1934, so we have to rely on verbal descriptions in deeds recorded prior to this date. There are some occasions when a Duplicate Plan was presented for recording or the original deed has been retained by the National Archives, but mostly all we have available are black-and-white photocopies of the plans with deeds recorded after 1934.
This can cause problems when colours are noted in the deed, with railway titles being particularly bad. From 1989 to 2006, deeds were saved on microfiche instead of in Record Volumes and the quality of some of the plans on microfiche is very poor. Since 2006, deeds have been scanned and the quality is now much better with colour plans.
By way of contrast, once a title is fully registered in the Land Register the plan available is of excellent quality and can be printed out at an accurate scale.