IT was 324 years ago that military engineer and artist John Slezer compiled the first ever pictorial survey of Scotland.

His collection of engravings was published in 1693 as Theatrum Scotiae and Slezer’s feat of depicting what important Scottish towns and buildings looked like in the latter half of the 17th century has been hailed by historians and artists ever since.

Now the National Library of Scotland (NLS) is to mark the 300th anniversary of Slezer’s death by organising a competition that asks photographers to show 21st-century Scotland from the same locations used by Slezer.

Born in the Netherlands or possibly Germany, Slezer came to Scotland in 1669 after a period of military service in the House of Orange.

He found his services in demand by the nobility and he rose to serve King Charles II as a surveyor and draughtsman. He later became Captain of the Artillery Company at the time of King James VII and II, and though at first he stayed loyal to the deposed king, his earlier connection to the House of Orange saw him reconciled with William and Mary and he continued the work he had started some 15 years earlier of making engravings of sites across Scotland.

The importance of his work was recognised in the 1690s. Though sales were poor, the Scottish Parliament levied a specific tax on trade to pay for the printing of later editions of the monumental work.

Now the challenge for photographers is to show as similar view as possible to that recorded by Slezer in Theatrum Scotiae. More than 70 of his engravings, covering places from Inverness to Ayr, are featured on the Library’s website to provide a starting point for interested photographers. Some of the more popular options may be famous buildings captured by Slezer including Linlithgow Palace, Dunblane Cathedral and Stirling and Edinburgh castles.

Details of the competition and how to enter can be found on the Library’s website at

Entries are open from July 13 until October 13. A maximum of six images per person can be entered which may be all of the same place or a mixture of different places.

Chris Fleet, map curator at the National Library, said: “We are well aware that the exact viewpoints used by Slezer may have been built on and no longer accessible and that the perspectives in his engravings were not always entirely accurate.

“All that we ask is that the scene is recognisable to some extent when compared with Slezer’s view.”