Wade Collection


Wade Collection


The collection consists of 17 plans on 14 sheets of paper, relating to the work of George Wade (1673-1748), during his time as Commander in Chief of His Majesty's forces, castles, forts and barracks in North Britain. Only five maps are dated, their dates ranging from 1724 to 1736, but it is thought that the undated maps probably relate to this same time period. George Wade was commissioned by King George I to report on the growing threat of Highland insurrection in 1724. Wade recommended a number of urgent measures, including the upgrading of forts and the improvement or construction of new roads connecting them. During the 16 years he spent in Scotland, Wade was responsible for founding and constructing two new forts, Fort George (Inverness) and Fort Augustus, as well as upgrading several other military defences at Perth, Ruthven, Edinburgh and Dumbarton. He authorised the construction of about 40 bridges and over 250 miles of roads between these forts, particularly along the Great Glen, and from Dunkeld and Crieff to Fort Augustus and Inverness. He also had plans for further road developments, many of which were carried forward by his successor, William Caulfeild, after 1740. The Wade map collection includes both maps of large areas of Scotland showing projected roads, and detailed plans showing projected work on forts at Fort Augustus, Fort William, and Inverness. The Wade maps complement the Board of Ordnance plans by providing additional illustrations of the construction of forts, barracks and roads in Scotland in the 18th century.


The maps form part of the manuscript collections (Acc.10497) but are stored in the Library's map collections. They are catalogued individually in the Library's catalogue.


The collection was gifted to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society around 1923, along with some engraved maps, and the manuscript component of the collection was purchased from them by the National Library of Scotland in 1992.


'Constructing the military landscape: the Board of Ordnance maps and plans of Scotland, 1689–1815', CJ Anderson, Unpublished University of Edinburgh doctoral thesis, 2010 , Vol 2, provides a full carto-bibliography of Board of Ordnance and Wade military maps of Scotland.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 BP Lenman (ed.) 'Military Engineers and the Development of the Early-Modern European State', Dundee, 2013.

'Scotland: Defending the Nation', CJ Anderson and C Fleet, Edinburgh, 2018, chapters 3-5.

Online resources

Military maps of Scotland




Maps, atlases and mapmaking