Explore Dumfries and Galloway through the ages

Writers and mapmakers have been recording the lives, communities, culture and landscapes of this beautiful and distinctive region for centuries.

Back in the 17th century Blaeu’s Atlas Novus, the first atlas of Scotland, mapped the south west in magnificent and colourful detail and also included fascinating descriptions of its people and places.

Indeed, the atlas takes us back to even earlier times as much of it is based on the surveys carried out by Timothy Pont in the late 1500s.

We asked well-known poet and author Hugh McMillan to write a modern description of Dumfries and Galloway that you can compare with the ones published in 1654, and also with the Gallovidian Encyclopedia produced by Mactaggart in the 19th century. We have also included links to part of the National Library of Scotland Map Library website where you can pore over all sorts of wonderful maps of the region from many different eras.

Whether you live here or are paying us a visit, it’s a wonderful way explore the region as it has been reshaped and changed by history.

Here’s what you can find in this section of the Cultural Map of Dumfries and Galloway website:

A poet’s view of 21st century Dumfries and Galloway

A misty and mysterious landscape which feeds the imagination – enjoy Hugh McMillan's insights on a region with a character all its own.

The Blaeu maps of the region

Castles, churches, sweeping rivers, lochs, woodlands, high towers and rich pastures – step back to see the region – return to the Dumfries and Galloway of the 16th and 17th centuries with these amazingly detailed maps.

A 17th century description

A bloody and a noble past, once ruled by its own kings and princes, bounded by England and the Irish Sea – read descriptions of the people and their region from centuries gone by.

Discover Dumfries and Galloway through the ages

The National Library of Scotland online map collection allows you to explore our region and see how it has changed over many centuries. While the delightfully quirky John Mactaggart’s Gallovidian Encyclopedia, first published in the 1820s, reveals everything from folklore and traditions to the meanings of local words and names.