Scotland as you’ve never seen it before

Map of Great Britain by Matthew Paris (c.1250). Scotland is geographically 'empty' by comparison with England, and not the stylised lines of ramparts signalling Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall.
Map of Great Britain by Matthew Paris (c.1250). Scotland is geographically 'empty' by comparison with England, and not the stylised lines of ramparts signalling Hadrian's Wall and the Antonine Wall.

THE changing face of Scotland is revealed in a brand new book which looks at how the history of the nation and its people have been portrayed on maps from the earliest time – Ptolemy in the second century AD – though tourist souvenirs to geological surveys and transportation plans.

‘Scotland: Mapping the Nation’ brings together some of the most significant manuscript and printed maps from the National Library of Scotland and other major institutions to unfold the development of a country and a people and put Scotland (pardon the pun), firmly on the map!

Chris Fleet, Senior Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland and one of the three editors of the book, says: “What we have tried to do is show how maps can be used as a window into Scottish history.

“This book has been designed not for the specialist map enthusiast, but for anyone who is interested in learning more about the story of Scotland.”

Highlights of ‘Scotland: Mapping the Nation’ include the first printed map of Scotland, dating from 1566; a Soviet map of Greenock pinpointing factories and military installations; the first roads maps for the 17th century; maps of criminal ‘hot spots’; specially designed maps for blind people, and the extensive tram network in Glasgow in the last century.

Chris adds: “Every map is a work of art and of science. Maps help frame the pictures people have of the world and help illuminate our understanding of the relationships between things and places.

“In these and in other ways, maps are fascinating the vital documents and that is why they play – and have played – an intrinsic part in most people’s lives.”

Just remember that the next time your SatNav takes you into a one-way street the wrong way!