Exhibition | Old Ways New Roads: Travels in Scotland, 1720–1832

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on December 21, 2020

Alexander Nasmyth, Dumbarton Castle and Town with Ben Lomond, 1816, oil on canvas, 33 × 55 cm
(Glasgow: The Hunterian Art Gallery, University of Glasgow GLAHA_51732)

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Scheduled to open in January, the exhibition will instead be moved online with related programming soon to be announced (stay tuned); from The Hunterian:

Old Ways New Roads: Travels in Scotland, 1720–1832
(Online) The Hunterian Art Gallery, Glasgow, 29 January — 9 May 202

Curated by John Bonehill, Anne Dulau Beveridge, and Nigel Leask

Old Ways New Roads: Travels in Scotland 1720–1832 addresses the impact of Scotland’s new transport infrastructure on the development of travel, tourism and topographical descriptions of the nation between 1720 and 1832. Old Ways New Roads features paintings, prints, drawings, maps, manuscript tours, and other associated objects from The Hunterian and other public and private collections.

The laying out of new routes in the aftermath of the 1707 Act of Union and the 1715 Jacobite Uprising opened up Scotland (and especially the Highlands) not only to military occupation, but to the forces of commerce and trade and philosophical and scenic tourism. As a recent war zone, Scotland became imbued with aesthetic and topographical significance. Sites and places, old and modern, ruinous and thriving, were brought into view by travel along the military roads constructed by General George Wade and Major William Caulfield. Later, those designed by Thomas Telford under the aegis of the Commission for Highland Roads and Bridges, as well as canals and steam-boat routes, further opened up Scotland’s more inaccessible regions in the Romantic period. Old Ways New Roads traces how these dramatic ‘improvements’ to the Scottish landscape were variously documented, evaluated, planned, and imagined in word and image and more especially ‘framed up’ in terms of the experience of travel.

From Birlinn:

John Bonehill, Anne Dulau Beveridge, and Nigel Leask, eds., Old Ways New Roads: Travels in Scotland 1720–1832 (Edinburgh: Birlinn, 2021), 240 pages, ISBN: 978-1780276670, £20.

In 1725 an extensive military road and bridge-building programme was implemented by the British crown that would transform 18th-century Scotland. Aimed at pacifying some of her more inaccessible regions and containing the Jacobite threat, General Wade’s new roads were designed to replace ‘the old ways’ and ‘tedious passages’ through the mountains. Over the next few decades, the laying out of these routes opened up the country to visitors from all backgrounds. After the 1760s, soldiers, surveyors, and commercial travellers were joined by leisure tourists and artists, eager to explore Scotland’s antiquities, natural history, and scenic landscapes and to describe their findings in words and images. Here, a number of acclaimed experts explore how the Scottish landscape was variously documented, evaluated, planned, and imagined in words and images. As well as a fascinating insight into the experience of travellers and tourists, the book also considers how they impacted on the experience of the Scottish people themselves.


Notes on Contributors

1  Writing the Scottish Tour 1720–1830, Nigel Leask
SECTION 1 | The Theatre of War, John Bonehill
2  The Ethnology of the ‘Old Ways’ in Gaelic Scotland, Hugh Cheape
SECTION 2 | Antiquities, Nigel Leask
3  Natural History, Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
SECTION 3 | Custom and Improvement, John Bonehill
4  Roads, Bridges and Designed Landscapes on the Highland Circuit, Christopher Dingwall
5  Scotland’s Prospects, John Bonehill
SECTION 4 | Picturesque Prospects and Literary Landscapes, John Bonehill and Nigel Leask
6  Portable Knick-knacks or the Material Culture of Travel, Viccy Coltman
7  Panoramas and Landscape, Christina Young
8  Picturesque Tours of Wales and Ireland, Mary-Ann Constantine and Finola O’Kane

Photograph Credits

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Note (added 6 January 2021) — The original posting did not include the contents.

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