Bruce Gittings on the Shetland Controversy

Writing on the Royal Scottish Geographic Society’s blog, Bruce Gittings challenges the notion that putting Shetland in an inset box is a map error:

It is plainly not: it is a cartographic compromise. And there are always implications to a compromise. To include the Northern Isles in their actual geographical location, separated from the mainland by almost 100 miles of water, would reduce the scale at which the country can be displayed by around 40%.

That means Scotland’s smaller Council Areas (e.g. Dundee) effectively disappear, reduced from any kind of area to an insignificant point, or major features such as the Firths of Tay and Forth lost under text-labels for Dundee and Edinburgh. We are left having to put the Central Belt in a zoom-box because of the loss of detail in areas where most people live, or having to use two sheets of paper rather than one for maps of Scotland. […]

The circumstance of Shetland-in-a-box (and indeed Orkney-in-a-box-too) is a feature of maps intended to display our entire country with a reasonable level of detail.

Previously: Don’t Put Shetland in a Box.

Author: Jonathan Crowe

I blog about maps at The Map Room, review books for AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, and edit a fanzine called Ecdysis.