Lincoln Shell Keep

Image Resources: Web Sources

Available online sources for topographical or antiquarian images of castles and associated architectural features: Drawings / maps / engravings / sketches / watercolours etc

A Guide to British Topographical Collections – M W Barley 1974 (by county)

The British Library – online images – (Good for S H Grimm, late C18 and Edward Blore, early & mid C19).  Also good for special collections- some early photographically illustrated books:  

Historic England - Educational Images - Photographic library

The British Museum

click the box the states: ‘Images only’

Cambridge University Digital Library (especially for John Speed’s Counties of Britain) and

The Royal Collection Trust:

Tate Britain:

Tate Britain - Turner’s sketch books online

George Vertue’s Vetusta Monumenta:

The Ashmolean Museum - Oxford (See note, left).

The Yale Centre for British Art - Collections:

The Gott Collection - Good for Yorkshire images:

For prints of  Cumbria, N. Lancs and the Lake District see:

National Galleries of Scotland

For a few Francis Place images

The National Museum of Wales:

The National Library of Wales:

Art UK (was BBC – Your Paintings):

The Government Art Collection:

The Victoria & Albert Museum (some very good 1850s-70s  castle photographs):

For Samuel and Nathaniel Buck images (1720s - 1750s):

Good sized views but contain a Panteek watermark. And:

Then go to and scroll down

Local /Regional art galleries, many of whom now have good collections online.

Liverpool: Walker Art Gallery Liverpool:



Dealers in antiquarian prints that have online galleries:

For prints from early antiquarian books, find if there is a version of the book online. See Philip Davis’s ‘Gatehouse’ website, under each castle’s bibliography, and go to the link; some websites allow page downloads to save as an image, others (Google) only allow you to print off the page.  

As a rule of thumb, the earliest prints/engravings (17th / early 18th century) are the most accurate and draughtsmanlike, not necessarily the most aesthetic, although the Samuel and Nathaniel Buck prints were often drawn at the request (& payment) of the owner, so they would sometimes exaggerate a building or a feature that the owner wanted to highlight. In addition, the perspective is sometimes unusual and distorted in so far as there are features and buildings that could not have been seen with the naked eye or camera from that viewpoint, but which are brought in or unfurled out from the background. A bit like unfolding a tin can to see it all round on one face.

Important 16th, 17th & early 18th century artists/draughtsmen/antiquarians to look for:

John Speed (for maps) (1552-1629) British Isles, 1611, with town & county detail

John Norden (c.1547-1625)

Anton van den Wyngaerde

Ralph Agas

William Smith

Braun and Hogenberg

Daniel King (d. c. 1664)

Wenceslaus Hollar (1607-1677)

Francis Place (1647-1728)

William Stukeley (1687-1775)

George Vertue (1684-1776)  (Vetusta Monumenta)

Buck, Samuel  (1696-1779) and Nathaniel, (fl 1724-1759), Buck's Antiquities or Venerable Remains of above four hundred Castles, Monastries, Palaces, etc. etc., in England and Wales,  (1774). [Most drawings date to the 1730s & 40s].

In the late 18th  & 19th century there was an explosion of good artists painting in the ‘Sublime’ or ‘Picturesque’ fashion and many took liberties with the landscape and buildings’ features to create a ‘Romantic’ or bucolic or arcadian scene. This includes J M Turner, a major practitioner of this genre, however delightful his paintings are.  So not everything seen can be believed. The better artists, for accuracy, are listed below:

For local studies, antiquarian prints can be found in various county topographical series:

Cornwall:           William Borlase (1695-1772), 1769: Antiquities Historical and  Monumental of the County of Cornwall

Herefordshire:   Thomas Bonnor (1798-1815), Perspective Itinerary……..…of Ten views of    Goodrich Castle (Vol. II, 1798). Published by J Cary.

            Robinson, C. J., 1869, The Castles of Herefordshire and Their Lords

Shropshire:        F. Stackhouse-Acton, 1868, The Castles and Old Mansions of Shropshire

Monmouthshire: William Coxe (1747-1828), 1801, An Historical Tour in Monmouthshire

© 2021 Castle Studies Group

Pembroke Castle - Francis Place c. 1678. One of 15 views of Wales drawn by Place (1647-1728). Of these, 10 are from a single sketch book, and are the earliest images that the National Museum of Wales holds that were drawn on the spot. Recent conservation work by the Museum has enabled sketches to be digitally stitched together - creating panoramic views  not seen before.

The Ashmolean has embarked on a major project to digitise its collections with an initial target of making 25% of the museum's objects available online by 2020. They are  adding and updating records every month. For more information on the project see About.