Board of Ordnance Collection


Board of Ordnance Collection


Around 375 manuscript maps and plans, prepared by the Board of Ordnance, primarily in the 18th century for the Hanoverian army during the Jacobite period. The English Board of Ordnance oversaw the supply of arms and munitions from the 14th century. Their role expanded to include the upkeep of castles, forts and barracks. Following the Act of Union in 1707, the Board’s responsibilities expanded to include Scottish fortifications, and the Board’s military engineers, draughtsmen and surveyors employed cartography as an essential part of their role. The collection reflects the Hanoverian military response to the threat and reality of Jacobite rebellion from 1707 to the 1760s. Later maps plan and show defence works to deal with the threat of American privateers from the 1780s and a possible French invasion during the Napoleonic Wars.

Nearly three-quarters of the collection consists of detailed plans and views of fortifications. These include developing the existing castles of Dumbarton, Edinburgh, and Stirling as well as the construction and development of Fort William; the defensible barracks of Bernera, Inversnaid, Killiwhimen, and Ruthven from 1717; Fort George in Inverness (1728-45) and Ardersier (1748-87); and Fort Charlotte in Lerwick (1783-1812).

The collection includes the earliest detailed town plans of Perth and Inverness (ca. 1716), and battle plans of Sheriffmuir (1716), Glenshiel (1719), Prestonpans (1745), Falkirk (1746) and Culloden (1746). It also contains maps showing military roads planned under George Wade in the 1720s, as well as those under construction during the late 1740s under Wade’s successor, William Caulfeild.


The maps and plans form part of the manuscript collections (MSS.1645-1652) but are stored as part of the Library's map collections and records are in the Library's catalogue.


The collection was deposited in the Library in 1934 by the Office of Works.

Related collections

The main body of the Board of Ordnance's archives, including maps, are held in The National Archives in London (in the WO78 class), but there are significant collections of Board of Ordnance maps held elsewhere, particularly in the Royal Library in Windsor Castle, and in the British Library in London.


'Constructing the military landscape: the Board of Ordnance maps and plans of Scotland, 1689–1815' CJ Anderson, unpublished University of Edinburgh doctoral thesis, 2010 Constructing the military landscape, Vol 2, provides a full carto-bibliography of Board of Ordnance and related military maps of Scotland.

'State imperatives: military mapping in Scotland, 1689–1770', CJ Anderson, Scottish Geographical Journal 125 (2009), 4–24.

'Cartography and conflict: The Board of Ordnance and the construction of the military landscape of Scotland', CJ Anderson in B.P. Lenman (ed.) 'Military engineers and the development of the early-modern European state,' Dundee, 2013.

'Scotland: defending the nation,' C Anderson and C Fleet, Edinburgh, 2018.

Online resources

Military maps of Scotland in the Library's collections





Maps, atlases and mapmaking