Antiquarian Map Collection

The library has a fine collection of early Irish maps dating from the sixteenth century to the early nineteenth century. The increasing sophistication of printing processes as harnessed for the production of maps from the 16th century through to the late 19th century, can be traced in the range of maps represented in this collection. Map makers such as Mercator, Ortelius, Petty and Speed, major influences in cartography are well represented in style and condition. It is possible to trace the use of hand colouring to delineate information such as political divisions and physical features, and later technological developments allowing elements of human geography to be represented through more sophisticated use of shading. During the listing of the antiquarian maps efforts were "made to indicate, where applicable, the atlas or work in which the map first appeared, and to give some biographical details about the cartographers, engravers, and publishers concerned."


Maps and the development of cartography, particularly in the 18th century when a lot of detail relating to social life and economic activity was added, are another significant resource for the researcher. Most of the maps are Irish in context.

Description or Catalogue

The antiquarian maps are listed in Irish Antiquarian Maps, Belfast City Libraries.


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Added by Libraries NI | Last updated on: 24 May 2018