A plan of the ancient town of Perth & its environs, laid down from an actual survey. William Macfarlane, Perth, 1792

A plan of the ancient town of Perth & its environs, laid down from an actual survey.
William Macfarlane, Perth, 1792

There are some who prefer to encapsulate the history of a town in words, but this plan shows it in cartographic form, and does it spectacularly. Not only does William Macfarlane produce a plan of the streets of Perth itself, together with the environs of the town, but by clever and judicious planning of the spaces round the edges, he manages to include a huge amount of information, both historical and pertaining to current land use and land ownership. He also squeezes in, very elegantly, his own advertisement in a small oval in the centre, at the base of the map: “Estates surveyed and laid out in the most proper manner for a rotation of cropping, also plans of the same elegantly drawn on reasonable terms.”

Macfarlane was one of the growing profession of land surveyors, who advised landowners on how to maximise their estates in terms both of landscaping and of revenue, as well as exercising their skills as surveyors and producing maps and plans of these same estates and of larger geographical areas. He employed the services of James Kirkwood, an eminent Edinburgh engraver, to execute the map, and the result is superb. Small delightful vignettes fill in gaps on the map, there is an informative Key to the plan which stresses Perth’s importance historically as “the ancient capital of Scotland”, as well as References which provide dates for some of the buildings, including Perth Bridge which was built 21 years before this plan was published.

The plan is “most respectfully” dedicated to the Provost, Dean of Guild, Baillies and Members of the Town Council of Perth.