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Pont Maps of Scotland, ca. 1583-1614 - Symbols and Abbreviations

Symbols frequently used by Pont are shown below. The use of standardised symbols was in its infancy in Pont's day, and he is not consistent in his use of symbols. It should also be noted that some symbols on the maps were added by others particularly Robert Gordon after Pont's death.

See also:


Sand (dots), shores (lines) and anchorages (ships) are shown. Similar symbols are used on early sea charts.
Rivers & Lochs

Rivers may be shown by single or double lines. Sometimes, the direction of flow is indicated by an arrow. Lochs may be shown by single lines, sometimes emphasised by shading.

Individual hills may be sketched as a perspective view, or as a profile. On some manuscripts, it is easy to confuse lines for rivers and coasts with those for hill profiles.

There are at least three symbols for trees. Pont uses two main types, a spiky, stick-like tree

and a curly, rounded tree.

There are also Robert Gordon's more carefully rounded trees sometimes drawn on top of Pont's original symbol. Some species are identified by name, eg. birch, holly, oak, and fir.

This example is probably by Robert Gordon, but Pont also writes moore, muir, or moss.

Large houses/castles

Significant individual buildings are usually shown by a tiny sketch, often with architectural details and surrounding enclosures or gardens. According to a key which Pont himself provides on his manuscript map no.36, the number of dots on the representation of a building may indicate the number of storeys it has.


Many towns are shown by a sketch of the town. This example shows Perth.

Market Crosses

These may appear as a cross within a burghs

Small settlements

The significance of Pont's different symbols for settlements is not clear. These are just some of the symbols he uses.

Pont's symbol for a mill probably represents the millwheel. Mills may also be identified by name.


These are often shown by a Maltese cross and also by the abbreviation 'K:'


Chapels are shown less frequently than churches, and do not have a specific symbol. They are generally indicated by chapel or chapell.

Abbeys & Cathedrals

These are often shown by a sketch of the building.


In general, Pont does not show roads. An exception is the 'Causway' near Aberdeen.


Most bridges are shown by a simple 2-line symbol, but larger bridges may be depicted with some structural features (such as the bridge at Perth, in the second example).


Concentric circles are used by Pont to depict mines.

Standing stones

Pont indicates standing stones with a small drawing of a monolith, sometimes accompanied by the word 'stone'.


Pont only occasionally shows boundaries. When they do appear, regional, county, and parish boundaries are shown as rows of dots.

Pont also shows the line of the Antonine Wall.

As Pont has uses similar symbols for different types of enclosure (ditches, walls, fences, etc), local knowledge is often required to identify what feature is portrayed. Sometimes there are clues: a bridge may indicate a ditch or moat, while a gateway may indicate a wall.


The following are some of Pont's most frequently-used abbreviations:


Pont seems to have been familiar with the concept of a key to symbols or 'characters'. On one of his maps, Pont map <36>, he provides his own key to some of his symbols. It is reproduced below, accompanied by a transcription of the Latin text and an English translation provided by Dr Jeffrey C. Stone and Ian C. Cunningham.