Lord Lovat & the History of Mapmaking

The history of Britain’s first highly detailed map began in the Highlands of Scotland and the Battle of Culloden in 1746

    • After the Jacobites were put down by the Hanoverians at the Battle of Culloden, the defeated Young Pretender, Charles Stuart, fled to the castle of Lord Lovat.
    • It very quickly became apparent to the elderly Lord that their position at the castle was untenable and that if they were to have any chance of escaping capture they would have to flee and hide in the Highlands.
    • Stuart decided to make his way to the Western Isles whereas Lord Lovat headed sought refuge deep in the Highland peaks. This was the childhood home of Lovat and he knew his way through the landscape.
    • The King’s soldiers on the other hand, struggled to navigate their way through the formidable scenery and for two months Lovat, although an old man and unable to move fast, escaped capture.

The problem for the King’s soldiers was that there was no complete map of the whole of Scotland, what existed had little purpose, save pomp and ceremony and what was needed was a military map.

Until that time maps of Great Britain had a nationalistic bent, full of crests and twirls and citations to the great land. There was little ground measurement and the accuracy of what had been done was limited by the instruments of the day.

So began the charting of what would become the first accurately measured map in the British Isles, drawn for military purpose.

The foundations were being laid for the mapping of Britain

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