Milton Head: the Birthplace of Modern Mapping

Part of the Mapping the Past trail

Filed under History & Archaeology

William Roy was born at Milton Head in 1726. By his death in 1790, Major-General Roy had changed the way we make maps – and consequently see the world – forever.

Amongst his many achievements were the Military Survey of Scotland 1747-55; his posthumously-published Survey of the Military Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain (1793); and the Hounslow Heath Baseline which lead to the Principal Triangulation of Great Britain. Roy’s dedication to mapping and his perseverance in lobbying for a comprehensive mapping project for the nation led to the foundation of the Ordnance Survey (OS), one year after his death in 1791. 

In 1956 a monument in the form of a Trig Point was erected in his honour, by the OS, at the site of his birthplace at Milton Head, just outside Carluke. While the house in which Roy was born is marked on his Military Survey, the building has long since disappeared. However many of the other features marked by Roy can still be seen, especially the fields and field boundaries that surround the site. Another memorial to William Roy can be found in the town square of Carluke. So rather than taking the car, you can park in Carluke town centre and walk between the two memorials. You might actually walk the route which William Roy may have travelled as a young boy to the schoolhouse on Carluke High Street.

Major-General William Roy's Monument.

This listing was created as part of the Mapping the Past project, managed by Northlight Heritage and delivered by CAVLP Heritage. Explore the site as part of the Mapping the Past trail (see right).

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