Putting Scotland on the map

The world of John Bartholomew & Son

Runs from 7 December 2012 to 7 May 2013


'Putting Scotland on the map' tells the story of one of Scotland's most influential mapmaking firms, John Bartholomew & Son.

Bartholomew produced well-loved maps for every occasion, and in the process changed the face of Scottish mapmaking forever.

How maps were produced

This exhibition brings Bartholomew's Duncan Street premises in Edinburgh back to life as we explore how the firm produced its world-famous maps.

Behind the Duncan Street doors, hand-drawn maps were turned into back-to-front copperplates by engravers before heading to the printing room floor.

Talented craftsmen and women

Exhibition visitors will have the chance to meet some of the most influential characters from the Bartholomew family. You'll also see evidence of the skill and talent of the craftsmen and women who produced Bartholomew's remarkable maps.

We tell the story of the firm through a rich array of items including manuscript maps, printed maps and atlases, photographs, oral history recordings and hand-made tools.

Historic maps on show

This exhibition draws almost entirely on material from the Bartholomew Archive, which records almost 200 years of the development of the firm, from 1820-2001. It is an incredibly rich resource which allows us to study the firm in extraordinary and intimate detail.

Some of the key treasures that visitors will see include:

  • The earliest printed atlas of Africa, published in 1588 and collected by the Bartholomew family
  • The second printed map of North America, published in 1566, also collected by the family
  • Some of the largest wall maps in our collection
  • An original copperplate from Bartholomew's most popular map series, their half-inch to the mile maps
  • The original map of Edinburgh Zoo.

Interact with the exhibition

Experience what it was like to be a Bartholomew employee as you:

  • Take a rubbing from a Bartholomew copperplate
  • Create a 3D model from a 2D map
  • Explore Bartholomew's map-colouring technique
  • Compare Bartholomew's historical maps with those of the present day.

Related events at NLS

Our winter programme features several events that are Bartholomew related. See the events page for details and to book online.


Putting Scotland on the map

7 December 2012 to 7 May 2013

George IV Bridge Building

Admission free

Opening hours:
Monday to Friday: 10.00-20.00
Saturday: 10.00-17.00
Sunday: 14.00-17.00



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