The correspondence consists of letters to Hutton from various correspondents, many of whom were parish ministers to whom he had written asking for information; the papers consist of transcripts of charters and other formal documents, extracts from cartularies and other registers, and descriptions, sketches, plans and elevations of monasteries and other religious buildings.
The greater part of the collection is dated between 1788 and 1790, and between 1809 and 1822 (many of the papers, especially the transcripts, are undated).
The collection is arranged for the most part by county, subdivided into the various regions where the religious houses were located; and within each section, the letters, arranged chronologically by correspondent (more or less), follow the other papers.
The volumes contain papers of various sizes, mostly quarto.
The collection was much consulted by Cosmo Innes, who added brief notes in pencil throughout (usually dates of the charters transcribed) and by W B D D Turnbull, who made numerous references to and extracts from it for his projected ‘Monasticon Scoticanum’.
A list is available of those items that have been printed, or published as illustrations.