Amazing 1800s map details length of Scotland's rivers

This amazing 19th century drawing compares the lengths of all of Scotland's principal rivers by lining them up next to each other.

The remarkable drawing lines all of Scotland's rivers next to one another to make an easy comparison. Picture: NLS

The intricate image was published in 1832 within the Atlas of Scotland by John Thomson and is today featured in the National Library of Scotland’s (NLS) map archive.

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Thomson lived in Edinburgh and was one of the city’s leading publishers in the early 19th century.

His defining work, the Atlas of Scotland, took 14 years to complete and brought Thomson to the brink of financial ruin, explains NLS Map Curator, Chris Fleet.

“The market was initially too small initially for Thomson to fund his work,” says Fleet.

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“Thompson tried to make money while producing the atlas by issuing segments of his work in instalments to a small number of subscribers.

“Despite the financial difficulties, Thompson triumphed over adversity through his patriotic desire to produce a standard atlas of Scotland.”

The page comparing Scotland’s principal rivers was drawn by talented Scottish artist William Lizars.

Lizars’ depiction of Scotland’s waterways combines knowledge of the river sizes availiable at the time awith his own artisic flair. Distinct landmarks and the towns that straddle each body of water.

Fleet added: “The atlas can be regarded as the culmination of the engraved, hand-coloured map printing tradition in Scotland, before the spread of colour lithography and related mechanical printing technologies in the later nineteenth century.”