Blaeu Atlas of Scotland, 1654

Map Detail View Map
Name: Blaeu, Joan, 1596-1673  
Title: De Thule…. Roberti Gordonii Ad Veteris Scotiae Tabvlam Adnotata  
Pagination: 8-7
Zoom Into Map:         Click on the image to view in greater detail  
Scroll through pages:       First       Previous       Next       Last

Translation of text:

we must go to the west, where we come on the first and largest island of all which are scattered in that sea, called Leogus by Buchanan, to others Levisse, commonly Lewis; its southern part, joined to the rest of the island by a narrow isthmus, has the name Harris. The whole of this is forty six of our miles in length, which changed to Roman will give fifty seven. The breadth is unequal, in some places narrower than fifteen Roman miles. Set far from the Orkneys to the west, it is not however far from the island of Skye, which is almost joined to the mainland, and from which the crossing is not difficult and short. It is the farthest of all in that sea, so that not without reason the appellation 'farthest Thule' would fit it well.

OF OLD SCOTLAND (Section Note)

That lands, rivers and seas vary in position little or not at all is established. Hence, although names change (which is mostly due to new colonists and migrations of peoples), however that immutable appearance of objects leads us by the hand in investigating the differences between old and new places, both what remains the same in them and in what respects they differ. Therefore, as we are going to compare the modern situation of our region with that which it had in former centuries, we have placed before our eyes the accurate map of the modern region and likewise this Ptolemaic one, with the condition that turning the map we look at what he twisted to the east as if it were pointing to the north. Certainly, if this defect is allowed for, our region will be found to be not unsatisfactorily depicted by him, and he alone is more successful than all others; without him as guide all our labour would have been vain. I have added also what I have been able to gather from our historians that is necessary for this purpose. All these are quite imperfect, since the greatest part of this kingdom lay outside the Roman world, and our historians are more than a little lacking in interest in these matters. It is not a hard task to fit regions to regions, but in the case of towns, which are admittedly few, the investigation is more difficult; and if in some points I differ from others, I ask for pardon, since I aim at the pattern of truth; and if I do not achieve it in everything, I pursue either what is true or what is probable.

Beginning from the southern frontier and looking to the Vergivian Sea, the estuary of Ituna divides us from the English, along the shore of the modern Solway Firth, where are the sub-regions Liddesdale, Eskdale, Eusdale, Wachopedale and next to these to the west Annandale, then Nithsdale, which have taken their names from the rivers by which they are irrigated. In Roman times the Selgovae held these places. The River Nith corresponds well to the Novius of the ancients. Old towns are listed: Ooxellum, Carbantorigum, Trimontium; today in that area there are Annan, Dumfries, Lochmaben; I do not know how old they are, as I have not had the good fortune to see them; whether the old ones have disappeared and new arisen, is not for me to conjecture.

More to the west on that shore were the Novantae, who embraced a notable peninsula, whose farthest promontory, which ends the Firth of Clyde, is today called by the inhabitants the Mull of Galloway. The River Deva of the ancients on this coast almost keeps its name and is called Dee. Nearby is the old town in Ptolemy Lucopibium; the learned Camden appositely replaces λευ‹κ›οικιδιον, today Whithorn, in Latin Candida casa. Many errors and dislocations in the manuscripts of Ptolemy are indicated by Gerard Mercator's erudite studies on that author. That these are true is in many cases proved by the Antonine Itinerary. Hence we may boldly but rationally alter some things. The estuary Iena is now Wigtown Bay. A little further on the Rerigonian gulf is now Luce Bay; to it on the other side of the peninsula corresponds the strait Vidogara, today Loch Ryan. The very erudite George Buchanan argues that the old names of these gulfs ought to be changed to correspond to the old nomenclature. I do not dispute this, unless it will be refuted by the name of the Rerigonian town, placed on the gulf of its name, where today there is, or is not far distant, the little city of Glenluce, with its once celebrated monastery.

As one goes past the peninsula the estuary Glotta opens up, little differing from the old name, for it is called the Firth of Clyde. Our people call a gulf or bay 'firth'; so in the old tongue all bays, especially smaller ones, they call lochs, hence among them lochs are distinguished into fresh- and salt-water. I observe the same usage among the Germans today, who denote lakes by the name of a sea, with an adjectival note of some place, as one may see in Leman, Acron and many others. The Novantae people extend to the beginnings of the Firth of Clyde, where today is Carrick. But the Damnii held the inmost reaches, where now are the prefectures of Kyle, Cunningham and Renfrew. Moreover the course of the River Clyde seems to have been part of their land; for to them are ascribed Cozia, where Rutherglen is today, and Colania, where Lanark is now, both of which have today become villages, Glasgow obstructing their lights. Vanduara of the ancients corrsponds quite suitably to the site of the city of Ayr.

Our historians relate that the Brigantes formerly held all that coast, which is now denoted by the name of Galloway. The learned David Buchanan seems to attribute the whole coast from

  [Continuation of text]

Copyright           Enquiries & Copies           Help