Edinburgh: Mapping the City

A new book has been published exploring Edinburgh's history through maps, some of which have never before appeared in print.

Edinburgh: Mapping the City brings together 71 maps, including the earliest known map of Edinburgh which was drafted around 1530 by exiled Scottish Lutheran theologian Alexander Allane.

Image copyright National L:ibrary of Scotland

The earliest detailed map of the Lothians was printed around 1610 in Amsterdam, from the pioneering survey of Scotland by Timothy Pont.

It lists many tower houses and farms whose names live on in Edinburgh today, as the city has grown to include them.

Image copyright National Library of Scotland

Another map contained in the collection shows the arrival of the main railways into Edinburgh in the 1840s.

The map below, from 1851, by W & AK Johnston, shows the "Joint Railway Station" that would become Waverley.

It is a fraction of its later size and includes the Edinburgh, Leith and Granton Railway leaving to the north through the Scotland Street tunnel.

Image copyright NAtional Library of Scotland

The next map shows the distribution of tuberculosis cases recorded in 1892.

It shows marked concentrations in poorer, high-density housing in the Old Town.

Dr Robert Philip, who recorded these cases, would go on to set up the influential Edinburgh Anti-Tuberculosis Scheme.

Image copyright NAtional Library of Scotland
Image copyright NAtional Library of Scotland

The book also includes this snapshot of the city centre's drinking dens from 1923, produced by the temperance movement in an attempt to limit the number of licensed premises.

Chris Fleet, map curator at the National Library of Scotland, has produced the book with Daniel MacCannell.

Mr Fleet said: "Today we may think of maps as tools to get us from one place to another but they are important historical documents in themselves.

"They can show how people's lives have changed over time and how the city has been adapted around them."

He added: "Edinburgh: Mapping the City is an anthology of historic maps which have been specially selected for the particular stories they reveal.

"It provides many surprises and we hope people will find it an accessible, enjoyable, attractive and browsable history of Edinburgh as seen through maps."

The book is published by Birlinn, in association with the National Library of Scotland.

One of the more unusual entries is a Soviet army map of Edinburgh from 1983, intended for use by Soviet commanders in the event of an invasion of Scotland.

It is colour coded for different buildings - military in green, administrative in purple, industrial in black and residential in brown.

This confidential map has text in Cyrillic and includes significantly more information about Edinburgh than Ordnance Survey maps.

It would have been perfect for planning a tank invasion.

Image copyright National Library of Scotland

The book also contains a map used to measure the speed of sound from the firing of the One o'clock gun on Edinburgh castle in 1879.

Image copyright NAtional library of scotland

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