AN historic map of Renfrewshire which dates back hundreds of years is now on view at Scotland’s top library.
Created by Timothy Pont in the 16th century, the map is a fascinating look at the ‘Baronee of Renfrew’ as it was more than 400 years ago.
Marked clearly on the extremely fragile object are ‘Pasley’ and its abbey. Nearby is the River Cart.
The detailed map also shows areas in the town that still exist to this day, even if they were spelled a little differently during the reign of King James VI.
‘Fergusly’, ‘Hunterthil’, ‘Meklerigs’ and ‘Halkhead’ are all there, along with many others.
Nearby, there is Renfrew and even ‘Kardonald’, which was then part of the barony but is now in Glasgow.
The map can be seen at the National Library of Scotland, in Edingurgh, along with others by Pont, who created the first comprehensive survey of Scotland.
His work formed the substantial basis for the first Atlas of Scotland and he generated an impressive collection of maps which have become one of Scotland’s greatest historical and geographical treasures.
Hand-drawn on 38 fragile sheets of paper, his maps offer a detailed account of Renaissance Scotland.
Pont recorded the phonetic pronunciation of Scottish place names, which adds to the value of these primary resources, according to library bosses.
The maps also highlighted the location of large castles, tower houses and burghs. These landmarks were drawn by hand and the landowners were often named, offering further insight into this time period.
Pont’s manuscripts pinpoint natural features in the landscape, including over 350 mountains. He also mapped rivers, lochs, mosses and woodland.
The written notes which complement the maps provide a fascinating and detailed description of the Scottish landscape during this era.
Pont records that Loch Tay contained ‘fair salmon, trouts, eels and pearle’ and associates Sutherland with ‘extreen wilderness’, ‘many wolfs’ and ‘all heir ar black flies ... seene souking men’s blood’.
Born in 1565, Pont was the second son of a prominent churchman, Robert Pont, who was a close associate of John Knox and the trusted advisor of King James VI and I.
His maps provide an unrivalled example of the cartography of Scotland in the 1580s and 1590s and identify over 9,500 named locations, many of which had never appeared on a map before.
The motives for Pont’s survey are still debated.
For James VI and his ministers, defining the expanse of their own territories through maps was an important means of state integration and promoting their own power.
Another contributing factor was the body of ministers, lawyers, teachers and lairds who emerged following the Scottish Reformation in the 1560s.
This group recognised the value of a detailed and historically accurate description of their country.
Chris Fleet, senior map curator at the National Library of Scotland, said: “Anyone interested in Scottish history should pay a visit to the National Library of Scotland as this display offers a rare chance to view these unique cartographic treasures, which offer an illuminating glimpse into the development of our country’s landscape during the Renaissance period.
“Sadly, Pont’s heirs neglected his maps and, by the 1620s, they were described as ‘worm and moth-eaten’, so we are very fortunate to still have them with us.
“For those interested in cartography, the National Library of Scotland has one of the 10 largest map collections in the world, with over two million maps.”
The Pont map display will be on public show at the National Library of Scotland until Sunday, August 29.