Originally engraved in 1573, this particular map was created in 1580 by Abraham Ortelius. One of the most prolific mapmakers of the 16th century, Ortelius published the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (in which this map of Scotland appears) and is therefore credited as giving the world its first modern Atlas. While the term ‘Atlas’ did not come into popular use as a term until two decades later, it is commonly agreed that Ortelius’ 'Theatrum' was the first.

This map of Scotland may strike a general audience as unusual, as it shows Scotland on its side. The Hebridean island of Lewis situated off Scotland's West Coast, appears towards the top of the map. However, it was not unusual for early maps to be orientated in directions other than North: as a practice, maps only began to point towards the North Star following the development of latitude and longitude, and using astronomy to fix location.

In addition to the ornate cartouche and a smalll drawing of a ship, you can also see an intimidating creature in the sea to the right of Skye - unlikely to be Nessie, but perhaps a distant cousin.

[Shelfmark Marischal 2]


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