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Symbolae Scoticae

Identifier: Coll-10

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early 19th century prints illustrating Scottish topography and antiquities; but the collection also includes original historical documents, printed maps, portrait engravings, newspaper and magazine clippings, two calotypes, and original drawings and watercolours.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 arranged geographically and cover:

  1. Edinburgh;
  2. Midlothian, East Lothian, West Lothian;
  3. Peebles, Selkirk, Roxburgh, Berwick, [including material relating to Sir Walter Scott];
  4. Perth, Forfar, Dundee;
  5. Arran, Bute, Ayr, Wigton, Kirkcudbright, Dumfries [including material on Robert Burns];
  6. Stirling, Lanark (Glasgow), Renfrew, Dunbarton;
  7. Aberdeen, Angus, Elgin, Banff, Inverness, Argyle;
  8. Ross, Sutherland, Caithness, Orkney, Shetland, the Hebrides.

The exclusion of Fife from the schema is noteworthy.

An interactive map has been created to display locations depicted in the Symbolae Scoticae [external link – accessed on 4 August 2023].

A handlist of the collection has been scanned from previous handwritten lists.


  • Creation: circa 1850 (spine-dated 1849)


Conditions Governing Access


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 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: Heritage Collections La.IV.17, 10057-58].


8 Volumes

Physical Location


Previous references


Processing Information

Descriptions of the fonds and of the albums created by Wilson Smith in October 2019 and August 2020.

Descriptions of the individual items created by Wilson Smith and Aline Brodin in 2020-2023, uploaded to ArchivesSpace in May 2023.

Symbolae Scoticae, c 1850
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379