Sources on early Scottish maps

The following references relating to early Scottish maps have been published recently, or are available in many libraries. John Moore's bibliography lists many more.

  • 'The historical cartography of Scotland: A guide to the literature of Scottish maps and mapping prior to the Ordnance Survey', by John N Moore. 2nd rev. ed. (O'Dell Memorial Monography 24) (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University, 1991).
    — A comprehensive bibliography of writings about early Scottish maps and mapmaking.
  • 'Togail Tir: Marking time: The map of the Western Isles', edited by Finlay MacLeod (Stornoway: Acair and An Lanntair Gallery, 1989).
    — A collection of essays, with many illustrations, on diverse aspects of mapping the Western Isles. Accompanies an exhibition of the same title.
  • 'The Scot and his maps', by Margaret Wilkes (Motherwell: Scottish Library Association, 1991).
    — A well-illustrated selection of maps from the National Library of Scotland's collections on various themes.


  • 'The early maps of Scotland to 1850', edited by D G Moir. 3rd ed. 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Royal Scottish Geographical Society, 1973-1983).
    — The most useful work on Scottish printed maps. Part history, part cartobibliography, it also lists a few manuscript maps when they are the earliest source of map information. Volume 1 summarises the mapping history of Scotland, with reproductions of a few important maps, then lists chronologically maps depicting the whole of Scotland. Volume 2 is particularly useful for local and family historians, with lists of maps of parts of Scotland and thematic maps, such as county maps, town plans, road, rail and canal maps, and marine charts.
  • 'Descriptive list of plans in the Scottish Record Office'. Vols 1-4. (Edinburgh: HMSO, 1966-1968).
    —The Scottish Record Office is now the National Archives of Scotland. Later acquisitions are listed in their Annual Reports.
  • 'The maps of Glasgow: A history and cartobibliography to 1865', by John N Moore (Glasgow: Glasgow University Library, 1996).


  • 'Illustrated maps of Scotland from Blaeu's Atlas Novus of the 17th century', by Jeffrey C Stone (London: Studio Editions, 1991).
    — Reduced (but still legible) colour copies of Blaeu's maps, with explanatory notes on each map.
  • 'The Pont manuscript maps of Scotland: Sixteenth century origins of a Blaeu atlas', by Jeffrey C Stone (Tring: Map Collector Publications, 1989).
    — Includes black and white photographs of all the Pont manuscripts, with commentaries on each map.
  • 'Taylor and Skinner's survey and maps of the roads of North Britain or Scotland', by George Taylor and Andrew Skinner (Leeds: Old Hall Press, 1991). Originally published in 1776.

Digital images of maps of Scotland

  • Highlights of the map collection is a feature of our Digital Gallery which shows several of the most important or interesting maps in the Library's collections.
  • Charting the nation (1999-2002) was a major digitisation project, in which the Library was a collaborator, which scanned over 3,500 images of early maps of Scotland, along with related textual materials, from 1590 to 1740.
  • SCRAN (Scottish Cultural Resources Access Network) displays various map images.

General information

The following items relate to the whole of the UK, particularly England, and give general guidance on using maps as historical sources.

  • 'Maps for the local historian: A guide to the British sources', by J B Harley (London: The Standing Conference for Local History / National Council for Social Service, 1972).
  • 'Maps and plans for the local historian and collector: A guide to the types of maps of the British Isles produced before 1914', by David Smith (London: Batsford, 1988).
  • 'Historians' guide to early British maps: A guide to the location of pre-1900 maps of the British Isles preserved in the United Kingdom and Ireland', edited by Helen Wallis and Anita McConnell (London: Royal Historical Society, 1994).


Maps subject information

Speak me