Edinburgh Castle, the Falkirk Wheel and a troop of bagpipers feature on the new UK passport designed to showcase cultural heritage but a sexism row has erupted with just two women acknowledged in its pages.

Mathematician and writer Ada Lovelace and architect Elisabeth Scott are depicted in the latest design unveiled today.

By contrast, seven men including William Shakespeare, artist John Constable and sculptor Anish Kapoor are represented.

The revelations triggered claims women are ''being airbrushed out of history'', with MPs and members of the public criticising the selection and suggesting a number of possible female inclusions such as Barbara Hepworth, Virginia Woolf and Beatrix Potter.

The new passport's theme is Creative United Kingdom, which official literature said features ''some of the best achievements of the last 500 years in Great Britain and Northern Ireland''.

A map of Edinburgh and the other UK capital cities features in the passport along with an image of Edinburgh Castle, bagpipers and the Falkirk Wheel.

Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, the Angel of the North and the Titanic Belfast are also celebrated in the new design which will distributed from the end of this year.

Mark Thomson, director general of the Passport Office, defended the design.

He said: ''It wasn't something where we said 'let's set out to only have two women'.

''In trying to celebrate the UK's creativity, we tried to get a range of locations and things around the country to celebrate our triumphs over the years, so there we are.''

Asked about the omission of female figures from literature such as Jane Austen, he said: ''Whenever we do these things there is always someone who wants their favourite rock band or icon in the book.

''We've got 16 pages, a very finite space. We like to feel we've got a good representative view celebrating some real icons of the UK - Shakespeare, Constable and of course Elisabeth Scott herself.''

The SNP's Edinburgh North MP Deidre Brock tweeted her displeasure with the design, writing: "The 'Creative UK' themed passport not only focuses on men, but has no-one from Scotland, Wales or NI!"

Aberdeenshire MSP Stewart Stevenson shared a link to a story on the sexism row and claimed the passport did not depict Scotland, despite the images of Edinburgh.

He wrote on Twitter: "New UK passport design seems to omit Scotland and Scots."

When another user pointed out the Scottish images included, Mr Stevenson wrote: " 'Seems to' in my comment because Gov website doesn't show anything of Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Delighted to hear we exist."

The passport has been described as "the most secure ever produced", with a host of new features to limit the risk of tampering or forgery.

Home Office Minister for Immigration James Brokenshire said: "The UK passport has an international reputation as a trusted and secure travel document, and we work tirelessly to stay one step ahead of the criminals who attempt to abuse the UK's immigration laws.

"By using some of the most advanced technology and security measures around, this passport design is the most secure that the UK has ever issued."