Shetlander’s vision captured in Toon exhibition

James Robertson portrait (Courtesy of Shetland Museum and Archives)
James Robertson portrait (Courtesy of Shetland Museum and Archives)

Aberdeenshire Council’s museum service has launched a visually striking exhibition at The Arbuthnot Museum in Peterhead.

The exhibition features maps and objects by James Robertson (1753-1829), the Shetlander who mapped Jamaica and Aberdeenshire.

Map of Jamaica (Courtesy of Shetland Museum and Archives)

Map of Jamaica (Courtesy of Shetland Museum and Archives)

Educated at Marischal College in Aberdeen, Robertson went to the Caribbean to make his fortune and became an expert in land surveying, producing remarkably accurate maps of Jamaica in 1804.

In 1810 he was commissioned to survey and draw a new map of Aberdeenshire and Banffshire.

The map took 12 years to complete, was full of inaccuracies, and resulted in a legal dispute which was unresolved at Robertson’s death in 1829.

This map and Robertson’s four maps of Jamaica are on loan to the exhibition from the National Library of Scotland.

Also on show are many personal objects and a wonderful portrait of James Robertson, on loan from Shetland Museum and Archives.

Documents pertaining to Robertson’s 1822 map of this area are on loan from Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Archives, as is an ‘azimuth’ compass from Aberdeen University Museums.

Visit the Arbuthnot Museum before Saturday, February 20 to see the most detailed maps of Jamaica and north-east of Scotland from the 19th century.

Cllr Alison Evison, Chair of Aberdeenshire Council’s Education Learning and Leisure Committee said: “We are delighted to be hosting an exhibition of such quality, working with our national and regional partners.

“I would encourage everyone to visit the exhibition as this is a great opportunity to learn how our ancestors went to great efforts to understand our landscape.”

To accompany the exhibition, there will be a range of events as part of VisitScotland’s year of Innovation, Architecture and Design for all ages at the Arbuthnot Museum throughout February.

For further information about these events please contact museum curator Fiona Clark on 01771 622807.