Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh: Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs

Nicolay - Scotland

19th February, 10:00

Edinburgh sale room Lyon & Turnbull‘s forthcoming Rare Books, Manuscripts, Maps & Photographs auction will feature an intriguing highlight – the Nicolay Rutter, said to be the oldest accurate chart of Scotland, made from a voyage King James V took around the country in 1540, and a seminal work in cartographic history.

Nicolay d’Arfeville’s La Navigation du Roy d’Ecosse is an early navigational guide, the oldest Scottish ‘rutter’ – a sixteenth-century term for a set of sailing directions, from the French routier. It has a fascinating history – James’ voyage was a bid to subdue the unruly Lords of the Western Isles, and the French explorer came into possession of a manuscript copy of the map in 1546 via Lord Dudley, Admiral of England (who had more than likely come by it through nefarious means). It was later used by the French to navigate to St Andrews in an attempt to avenge the murder of Cardinal Beaton by anti-French Protestants, leading to St Andrews Castle ceding on 31st July 1547; John Knox was among the defenders taken prisoner, spending eighteen months in the French galleys before his release. The map was finally published nearly 40 years after this, in 1583.

The full catalogue is available at

Image: Nicolay d’Arfeville – La navigation du Roy d’Ecosse Jacques Cinquiesme du nom, autour de son Royaume, & Isles Hebrides & Orchades, Paris, 1583. First edition.

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