John Ainslie's Landmark Map of Scotland
By AINSLIE, John , 1789

Scotland Drawn and Engrav’d from a Series of Angles and Astronomical Observations By John Ainslie Land Surveyor.

British Isles Scotland
  • Author: AINSLIE, John
  • Publication place: Edinburgh & London
  • Publisher: Printed & Sold by John & James Ainslie Booksellers & Stationers, St. Andrew's Street Newtown; William Faden, Geographer to the King, Charing Cross
  • Publication date: Jan[uar]y 1st 1789.
  • Physical description: Large engraved map on nine sheets, fine original full-wash hand-colour, dissected and mounted on linen, in two sections, some minor foxing, insets of the Shetland and Orkney Isles, table of distances between towns, and heights of the 'Most Remarkable Hills', lower left.
  • Dimensions: 1770 by 1590mm. (69.75 by 62.5 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 2001


Ainslie’s large and detailed map of Scotland.

First published in 1789, this large and rare map would become the benchmark map of Scotland, until Aaron Arrowsmith’s map of Scotland some 20 years later. The map is on the same scale (approx. 4 inches to 1 mile) as Dorret’s map of 1750, however, it surpasses it in terms of clarity and accuracy; and for the first time the Great Glen from Inverness to Fort William is accurately depicted, as are many of the islands that make up the Western Isles.

John Ainslie (1745-1828) was, without doubt, the outstanding Scottish cartographer of his generation, producing a vast range of town plans, estate surveys and county and national maps and charts in a very prolific career. He is best remembered for his nine-sheet map of Scotland and his travelling map of Scotland, however, he also surveyed numerous Scottish counties including the Stewartry of Kirkcudbright in 1796. In 1812, he produced a comprehensive treatise on land surveying based on his practical experience.


  1. NLS Map.Rol.e.1.