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Raj pictures found in shoe box at Edinburgh national collection

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image captionThe images found by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland include pictures of ships arriving at the Chandpal Ghat on the Hooghly River
image captionThis undated photo shows celebrations for the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Calcutta in 1912
image captionThe collection of images discovered by the RCAHMS include an undated photo of Jain Temple complex, Calcutta
image captionA tennis party group pose for a photograph which was taken at an unknown location in India at least a century ago
image captionThe old collection of pictures found in a shoe box by the RCAHMS includes a group of people sitting in two ferry canoes moored in a stream at an unknown location in India
image captionThe century-old images include two men stick dancing in front of a crowd in Calcutta

A shoe box containing images of life in India at least a century ago has been discovered in one of Scotland's national collections.

All 178 of the plate-glass negatives were found by the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS) in Edinburgh.

They include images commemorating a British royal visit and ships docking on the Hooghly River.

They are said to have been taken in the country at the time of the British Raj.

It is thought the negatives remained untouched for almost 100 years.

Archivists at RCAHMS have already confirmed that some of the images were definitely taken in 1912, when King George V and Queen Mary visited Calcutta.

It was the only visit by a British monarch to India as emperor of the subcontinent.

Some of the photographs show the city's buildings lit up at night in tribute to the royal visit.

Search for clues

Little else is known about the images and the photographer, prompting a search for clues as to his or her identity.

One theory is that the photographer was a British civil servant in Calcutta, or was connected to the jute trade, as many Scots were said to be at the time.

There is a Scottish cemetery in the city that dates back to the time of the British Raj, which has recently been cleaned up and recorded.

RCAHMS hopes that members of the public and photography enthusiasts might be able to shed more light on the discovery.

RCAHMS architectural historian Claire Sorensen said: "We don't know for sure how they came to be in our collection because we receive archive material from countless different sources, ranging from the archives kept by architectural practices to generous public donations.

"Over time all this new material will be inspected and catalogued as part of our collection - undergoing conservation work where necessary - and then made available to the public.

"It's fantastic that a small shoe box contained such a treasure-trove of photographic imagery, but in some ways it's not unusual.

"Our experience as an archive has shown us that some of the most interesting discoveries can be made in the most unlikely of places."

More on this story

  • Scottish images archive for India