Scope and Contents
The Symbolae Scoticae [= ‘Scottish contributions’] is a set of eight purpose-bound scrapbooks containing more than 2000 items relating to Scottish history, geography and culture.
The bulk of this material consists of 18th and early 19th century prints illustrating Scottish topography and antiquities; but the collection also includes original historical documents, printed maps, portrait engravings, newspaper and magazine clippings, two calotypes, and original drawings and watercolours.
The volumes are divided geographically and cover:
- Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian;
- Peebles, Selkirk, Roxburgh, Berwick, [including material relating to Sir Walter Scott];
- Perth, Forfar, Dundee;
- Arran, Bute, Ayr, Wigton, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries [including material on Robert Burns];
- Stirling, Lanark (Glasgow), Renfrew, Dunbarton;
- Aberdeen, Angus, Elgin, Banff, Inverness, Argyle;
- Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, Orkney, Shetland, the Hebrides.
Biographical / Historical
The Symbolae Scoticae was compiled by the naturalist Adam White (b. Edinburgh,1817, d. Glasgow, 1878) from material collected largely in the 1840s, when White was employed as an assistant in the Department of Natural History at the British Museum in London. The frequent interspersed blank pages in the albums indicate White’s intention at some point to add further items to the collection.
The intention of ‘my collection of scraps’ was, as White put it, ‘to illustrate Scottish scenery, Scottish men, manners and works’ [Letter 11 September 1843, to David Laing: CRC La.IV.17, 10057-58].
The original drawings contained in the Symbolae include architectural and topographic sketches made by White on return visits to Scotland.