Edmund Burt (?-1755)
Letters from a gentleman in the north of Scotland to his friend in London; containing a description of a capital town in that northern country … likewise an account of the Highlands... 1st ed., (London, 1754).
"The old Ways (for Roads I shall not call them) consisted chiefly of stony Moors, Bogs, rugged, rapid Fords, Declivity of Hills, entangling Woods, and giddy Precipices… [they] are [now]…as smooth as Constitution Hill, and I have galloped on some of them for Miles together in great Tranquillity"Edmund Burt
Taking the form of letters to a friend in London, this rare early account of the Highlands was written by Edmund Burt, an English rent collector for the Forfeited Scottish Estates after the Jacobite rising of 1715. Burt’s work involved close collaboration with General Wade's road building project. His description of the areas of Scotland in which he was working include a summary of progress made on the road building project, which he saw as a means of taming what he considered a bleak and hostile terrain and people. The emphasis in the letters on dirt, barbarity and superstition caused indignation among patriotic Scots and led one reader, Lord Hailes, to dismiss Burt as “an ignorant creature who drew together materials for a book in order to procure a bit of bread."