Download, explore and view records of 2,147 maps and plans of Scotland held in the archive of the Stevenson engineering firm.
This dataset contains records of 2,147 maps and plans of Scotland held in the archive of the Stevenson engineering firm. This includes maps and plans made by the Stevensons themselves and those acquired from other sources and held with the company’s archives. Although the company worked all over the world, this resource is limited to material relating to Scottish projects and places.
The Stevenson Engineers
Founded by Robert Stevenson in the late-eighteenth century, the Edinburgh-based Stevenson engineering firm worked on projects throughout the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries across the world. Multiple members of the family served as engineers to the Northern Lighthouse Board, responsible for the Scottish lighthouse service, and took on other work including harbour improvements, railway and canal route surveys, bridge design and the development of lenses, signals and lights. They were involved in scientific societies, including the Royal Society of Edinburgh, the Royal Scottish Society of Arts and the Institution of Civil Engineers and published academic papers in fields as varied as meteorology, optics, geology, oceanography, and engineering history.
The Maps and Plans
The Stevenson archive of maps and plans is diverse in subject matter, extent and purpose, representing the variety of uses engineers had for mapping. The archive includes manuscript and printed material at a wide range of scales.
Some towns or regions are covered by multiple plans due to the collection of reference plans, ongoing work by the Stevensons or multiple plans relating to a single project. Recurring projects tended to include harbours and lighthouses, while major cities or geographical features such as the River Tay were often featured in multiple projects.
The earlier part of the archive includes a wider variety of project types. Plans of railways, roads and bridges, for example, mostly date from before 1850. The majority of records relate to harbour works, followed bridges and rivers. Lighthouse plans are a relatively small proportion of the archive – around 5% of the total number of records.
This dataset is based on an inventory donated by D. Alan Stevenson alongside the maps and plans in the 1950s. Additional maps and plans relating to the Stevenson engineers were acquired in the 1990s and catalogued separately. These two inventories were combined and structured before being georeferenced and made available through a map-based digital finding aid as part of a project in the summer of 2019.
During this project, some reformatting and enhancement of the data took place. Date, person, and subject were extracted from existing descriptions for some records, which often mentioned these collectively. In addition to the data provided by the inventories, a conservation review of the Stevenson collection recorded additional data such as size and medium of items.
The dataset now includes, at a minimum, metadata for shelfmark, item description, subject/theme, date, and place/location where this data was included in the original inventories. Geographic polygon features were the assigned to each record using a desktop GIS to enable map-based searching. Zoomable digitised images of around 1100 of the maps and plans were added to this resource in November 2020.
This dataset was created by Rachel Dishington (University of Edinburgh) as part of a PhD placement with the National Library of Scotland.
Explore the project web page: Stevenson Maps and Plans project
Stevenson Civil Engineers, …Plan & sections of the harbour & connecting road proposed to be formed… at Leck Robie… (1847)
Robert Stevenson, Plan… of the proposed line of railway from the coalfields of Mid Lothian to the Rivers Tweed and Leeder… (1821)
Stevenson Maps and Plans of Scotland viewer on the National Library of Scotland Maps website
This data collection is licensed under a CC-0 license.
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Stevenson maps and plans data
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