Please note: due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak the Centre is currently closed, but our website is still open for business.

East Lothian’s heritage online: how to use our website search tools

HELO is the online gateway to the catalogues of East Lothian Council’s heritage services. You can arrange a special group workshop to learn about online research tools, including how to get the most out of this site (and even contribute to it!). Call 01620 820 695 or email [email protected] to find out more and arrange a session.

With internet access, from your own computer or mobile phone you can:

  • Find out what is in the Museum collection (we can only display a relatively small number of objects in the museums)
  • Explore the Archaeological sites and finds all over East Lothian
  • Browse the Archive catalogue, then come to the John Gray Centre to see the archives themselves
  • Search the Local History Centre newspaper indexes to find lists of articles from 1859 right up to 1902. You can view the actual newspapers on microfilm at the John Gray Centre
  • Search all of these catalogues singly or together, in any combination, so that your search is automatically cross-referenced over all of East Lothian’s heritage collections

If you’d like tips on using the archive materials to help your research, check our research guides here.

There are three easy ways to search:

1. Type your query into the Search bar Search the whole website using this search boxat the top of the website

A query here will search the whole website, for every word in your query. The results will list the general articles and pages from the website first, and then the HELO results from the collection catalogues. You can filter these results – see below.

2. Use the Map Search, by clicking on theMap Search button Map Search button beside the Search bar

This will take you to the Map Search page:Map search default view, zoomed

Find out more about using the Map Search here.

3. Use the Advanced Search filter at your initial search results

This will take to you Advanced Searchto the Advanced Search page:

Search tips

1. How to filter your results

You will get a number of results which you can whittle down according to your own criteria, using the filters down the left-hand side of the page, as you can see in the example below:

HELO: filtering

There is more about these filters on our Help page.

a) Sort

‘Relevance’ means that results with the most occurrences of the words in your search term will appear at the top of the list.

‘Title’ will sort the results into alphabetical order by title.

‘Date’ will sort by oldest item first, but we are still working to improve this feature. It’s not recommended for use at the moment.

b) Results from

‘Articles and pages’ will give you just the results from the rest of the website, not the HELO results.

‘Records from the collections’ will give you just the results from HELO, i.e. the catalogues from the museum, archive, local history centre and archaeology services.

‘Map’ will show you the results on the map.

c) Results with

‘Image only’ will give you just the results with images.

d) Collection

Choose which catalogue you want to view results from, whether from the museum service, the archaeology service (East Lothian Council Historic Environment Record or Midlothian Council Historic Environment Record), the archive service or the local history centre. Each choice will show in brackets how many results it holds that relate to your search, eg ‘East Lothian Archive Service (191)’.

e) Subject

This is a list of keywords from our catalogues, showing keywords that appear in the results of your search. Since the catalogues were developed independently of each other, there may be some crossover of slightly different keywords. If you click on one of these, all the results showing that keyword will appear. But please be aware that not all relevant results will necessarily have that keyword – this is part of the ongoing work of updating the catalogues. The museum service uses this list, and the archive service uses some of these too.

f) Times

This is a list of time periods that are used in the Historic Environment Record and the Archive catalogue. They will also be used in the Museum catalogue when that is refreshed.

g) People & Organisations; Places; Type

These are additional filters that may help you narrow your search. ‘Type’ includes building type for the Historic Environment Record, and material type for Archives and soon Museums.

2. Using the map

All the records that are ‘geocoded’ (have a map reference) appear on the map. These are primarily the Historic Environment Records from the Archaeology Service catalogue.

On the map you can see:

a) Sites and finds: these are shown as purple dots

Click on a dot in the area you’re interested in, and a list of results will pop up. Select the result you’re interested in or explore another dot. Once you’ve selected a record, the map will zoom in to that area, and the dot will change to yellow. Scroll down, and you will be able to read the full record.

If you want to hide the purple dots and polygons, untick the ‘search results’ box in the ‘Our Collections’ tab on the left-hand side of the map.

b) Images

When you zoom in to an area, images in geocoded records show up. You can click on these to see what they relate to, and for an enlarged version of the image.

Tick or untick ‘Photos’ in the box in the ‘Our Collections’ tab on the left-hand side of the map to show/hide these.

c) Postcode and text search

You can use the Search box at the top of the page to search for specific areas or items on the map, and you can also do a postcode search. You must use capital letters for the postcode search to work. There is also a search box in the ‘Our Collections’ tab on the left-hand side of the map.

d) Options to add extra layers (historic maps, aerial views etc)

On the left-hand side of the map is a list of options, where you can choose to show archaeological sites, images, historic maps layered over the modern map and aerial and street views of the area. The historic map layers and the historic aerial photograph layers have been supplied courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.

e) Zoom and move around

To zoom in on an area, either use the magnifying slide on the left-hand side of the map or press the ‘shift’ key, hold down the left button on your mouse and drag it over the area you’re interested in.

To move the map around, to explore different areas, click the left button of your mouse and drag it in the direction you’re interested in.

3. Spelling variations

If you’re not sure how something is spelled (for example, a name that might have been spelled in several different ways in the past), you can use an asterisk to represent unknown characters. Note that you must use lower-case throughout your query, even if it’s a proper noun.

For example: lint*n will find pages with the word ‘Linton’ and m*donald will find pages with McDonald and Macdonald (etc) in them.

If you want to find words with different endings (eg both singular and plural), you can search for eg: dog*, which will bring up records with ‘dog’ and ‘dogs’ (and ‘doggy’, ‘doggerel’ etc).

4. More Search tips

Visit our Help page to find out more about searching the website.

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