Øysand, the North Star and a new German city

Øysand is a Norwegian village on a narrow bit of land at the place where the Gaula River enters the Gauolsen, part of the Trondheim Fjord. It’s about 10 miles to the south of Trondheim. With deep fjords cutting in-land from the coast providing safe harbour the area around Trondheim was recognized  by the Germans before the war as being strategically important, and with this in mind Øysand was chosen as the site of an airfield, prisoner of war camp and then post-war a German town. This rough geological sketch, dating from November 1942, of the area has been made in preparation for these to go ahead. Work started in 1943 but was soon abandoned, leaving little evidence on the ground now that such large and ambitious plans ever existed. The whole area was to be called Nordstern.

The map belonged to the Wiking Operational Group (Einsatzgruppe) of Organisation Todt, the engineering wing of the German Army. The Wiking group, as can be imagined, was responsible for Scandinavian work.

Geologische ubersicht Oysand, 1942. C36:23 (20)

Old map, new use

This is an interesting example of re-using old stock. James Wyld published in 1845 a ‘Post map of Europe’, showing routes of communication throughout Central Europe.

The map was printed by using a technique called copper-plate engraving. The image would be incised onto the plate which is then inked, the top surface is cleaned leaving the ink in the cuts, paper is then pressed down onto the plate. This plate could then be stored and re-used as needed, either in producing further editions of a popular map or, in this case, by changing some of the details and producing a new map at minimal cost. Being a soft metal meant that it was easy to alter or even remove information.

Images from both the original (top) map and new version (bottom) showing the changes to the date

Front and back covers for the new map, the only real change, along with the removing of the year published, in the map.

Wyld’s Post map, with the removal of the year originally published and given a new cover (but not a new title on the map), becomes ‘Wyld’s map of the theatre of war’, the war being between Prussia and Austria in 1866. The outcome, a relatively easy victory for the Prussian Army in seven weeks led to the creation of the North German Confederation. Following war with France in 1870 the remaining German states joined this Confederation, creating a Germany that was to last until the end of the First World War. Wyld’s map illustrates well the confusing make-up of the different states before unification.

German states. This photo shows how maps intended to be stored folded were protected by being cut into rectangles and then stuck onto linen. If left as a complete map the paper on the folds would quickly deteriorate, linen was a lot more suitable and long-lasting folded. 

James Wyld was the middle of three cartographers, father, son and grandson, all called James. The father was Geographer to George IV and William IV while the James who produced this map was Geographer to Queen Victoria. As well as produced a large number of maps he also created

and exhibited a ‘Monster Globe’ for the Great Exhibition in 1851. This was a giant model of the Earth which was viewed from the inside.

 

The things you see on maps

Strict segregation on the Côte d’Azur. Caveman on Ile de Port-Cros, nudists on the Ile du Levant, according to this map of the French Riviera.

Pictorial representation on maps is reasonably common (see the blog post in November 2017, ‘Something we should not forget’), nudity isn’t.

Côte d’Azur, Hyéres et les Iles d’Or c1970. C21:41 (57)

Fire

Blandford Forum is a market town in north-east Dorset. The attractive Georgian architecture and the neat lay-out of the centre of the town are the result of a devastating fire that started on the 4th of June 1731. This map, printed soon after, dramatically shows the condition of the town in the immediate aftermath of the blaze, all the dark shaded buildings were destroyed leaving few still standing. The box at the bottom tells the story. Starting in a tallow chandlers house (A on map) at 2pm the fire soon spread to the houses between the chandler’s house and the church (B)  before spreading to the properties across the road. The text ends ‘The church by the care of some of the inhabitants was preserved till about 11 at night tho’ the spire which was now covered with lead took fire within side about 4 in the afternoon which was soon extinguish’d but the fire flying over and thro’ it at every crevice, some sparks whereof lay latent till about 2 in the morning, then broke out in the middle isle under the lead, where ’twas impossible to extinguish it without engines which were already burnt many hours before, & the inhabitants so tired with much fatagues that before morning ye church was entirely destroyed ye poor remains being scarcely fit for a foundation’.

A plan of the town of Blandford with the adjacent villages of Briantstone & Blandford St Mary describing the damages in each place by the dreadfull fire which happened there on 4th of June 1731 [1731?] Gough Maps Dorset 8

Fires, and the damaged caused, do give the opportunity for re-developing, for improving road lay-out, building material and sanitation. The creators of this map, the rather unfortunately named Bastard brothers, were also the local architects, and they rebuilt Blandford with a new and improved market place, school and church. The new layout can be seen in this image of the town taken from the first edition of the Ordnance Survey, from 1888

Sheet Dorset XXV 7, 1st ed Ordnance Survey, 1888

The most famous of urban fires though is the Great Fire of London, which fanned out of Pudding Lane late in the evening of the 2nd of September 1666 and soon consumed most of the buildings within the old walls, as these maps of the damage show.

A map or groundplot of the citty of London and the suburbs thereof, that is to say all which is within the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor…which is exactly demonstrated the present condition thereof, since the last sad accident of fire. The blanke space signifeing the burnt part & where the houses are exprest those places yet standing. 1666 Gough Maps London 7

London has a long and painful history of great fires, from the destruction caused by Boudicca in AD 61 to accidental fires in 961, 1087, 1135 1299, 1444, 1561 1619, 1698, 1716, 1725, 1748, 1814, 1834, 1838, 1861, 1874, 1882, 1917 and 1936, and these are just the major fires, there have been many smaller but damaging accidents as well.

Several propositions and schemes were offer’d the rebuild the City of London after the great fire1666…1666 Gough Maps London 11

The above is one of many different designs for the rebuilding of the city after the great fire. Proposed by Valentine Knight the scheme called for a rigid street pattern but with a greater amount of water in the shape of a canal flowing through the city. This map was printed a remarkable 18 days after the fire started. Despite further plans submitted by such notable figures as Sir Christopher Wren in the end a design based on the old lay-out was implemented, but with greater distances between houses and set rules on building materials.

A plan of all the houses destroyed & damaged by the great fire which began in Exchange Alley, Cornhill, on Friday March 25, 1748. 1748 (E) C17:70 London (317)

A map of another of London’s great fires, that of March 1748. As with the map by Valentine Knight this was produced very quickly after the incident, a mere 8 days between the fire and publication.

Finally an inset from ‘An exact surveigh of the streets lanes and churches contained within the ruines of the city of London…’ (1669 (E) C17:70 London (643) which shows the fire from Southwark.

Boats and Maps

Maps come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and one recent purchase by the Rare Books Section was not one I’d seen before.  The artist’s book The last voyage by Tracey Bush is based on a poem by a seventeenth century wit John Taylor who undertook a journey in a paper boat with two stockfish tied to canes for oars from London to Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent.  The map is fashioned into a hand folded paper model of a boat which is accompanied by a booklet with extracts of the poem In praise of the hemp-seed written by Taylor to describe his journey. The booklet and boat are made entirely by hemp paper and are contained in a folder secured by a small piece of hemp rope.

This artistic use of maps is increasing with the popularity of maps as visual objects and you can see them everywhere – mugs, mouse mats and even the former First Lady’s dress. What is it about maps that is so appealing?  Is it the potential for a journey? The depiction of something (generally) real? Or do they just make pretty things to look at? Whatever the draw it has been going on for centuries as can be seen by Leo Belgicus which was first drawn in 1583 by Michaël Eytzinger, an Austrian cartographer.  He depicted the Low Countries as a lion rampant facing east, an image which was popular in various forms for many years.

As was closer to home James Gillray’s caricature of England as an old woman seated on a sea creature.  Otherwise it is the content, rather than the appearance of the map which is more important – who hasn’t seen advertisements for items personalised with a map of a significant location in cufflinks, necklaces and puzzles.

Whatever it is in this age of technology maps remain relevant as practical items (an Ordnance Sheet doesn’t require a mobile phone signal) and an artefact thus still fulfilling the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s definition of cartography as ‘the art and science of graphically representing a geographical area, usually on a flat surface such as a map or chart. It may involve the superimposition of political, cultural, or other non-geographical divisions onto the representation of a geographical area.’

The shortest distance between two points

We came across this map, on a very unusual projection, while processing a previously uncatalogued set of nineteenth century French sea charts produced by the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la marine. Most are standard nautical charts, but this one – part of a set of three – is extraordinary.  The world appears to have been turned inside out; the chart is centred on the central Atlantic, and the land masses are progressively larger and more distorted the further they are from this point. The other two charts represent the Pacific and Indian Oceans in the same way.

The title makes the chart’s purpose clear: ‘Carte pour la navigation par l’arc de grand circle’. A great circle is, technically, the point at which the surface of a sphere intersects with a plane passing through its centre. In practical terms, a great circle drawn on the surface of the Earth between 2 points will be the shortest distance between those points (the Earth is not, of course, a perfect sphere, but it is close enough for this to be of use).

Navigational charts are traditionally drawn on the Mercator projection. This has the great advantage of showing a line of constant bearing (rhumb line) on the Earth’s surface as a straight line on the map. This is the simplest course to navigate, as mariners have known for many hundreds of years, but it is not the shortest. The shortest route is a great circle, and this requires constant adjustment of direction to stay on course. Sailing ships were limited by the challenges of winds and currents, and early steam ships by the need to refuel, but from the 1870s this principle began to have more practical applications. A straight line drawn on this orthodromic chart is a great circle course between the two points it connects, enabling navigators to plan their great circle journeys relatively easily. These charts were published in 1879. 

Charts of this sort do not appear to have passed into common use, and there could be several reasons for this. For one thing, the difficulties of plotting a great circle course are sufficient to outweigh the advantages for all but the longest ocean crossing journeys. Mariners continued to use rhumb line navigation well into the late twentieth century, by which time GPS systems had come into use. When a great circle course was followed, for sea or air travel, it was calculated in advance, sometimes using a chart of this sort. The course would then be plotted onto a Mercator projection chart where it was easier to follow. 

The usefulness of great circles can be seen most clearly on a modern map of long distance air travel. This is why aeroplane routes from, say, London to San Francisco always appear oddly curved when viewed on a map, with the route going much much north than you would expect. This is a great circle course, and the shortest way to connect two distant cities. A demonstration can be seen on this useful site http://demonstrations.wolfram.com/GreatCirclesOnMercatorsChart/.

The charts were created by Gustave Hilleret, a naval lieutenant and teacher at the École supérieure de guerre navale, who also published books on navigation. The projection is the Gnomonic projection with Equatorial aspect; the charts’ Bodleian shelfmark is B1 a.61/1 [39-41].

The Great Game

This map of the north west frontier of India reveals some fascinating political manoeuvres. Produced in 1889 and titled simply ‘Afghanistan’, it shows the boundaries between British India and Afghanistan. It was made during the period sometimes described as the Great Game, when the imperial ambitions of Russia and Great Britain were fought out in the border regions of Afghanistan. 
The map is accompanied by a letter, dated 1890, from W.J. Cuningham of the Foreign Office in Simla, which makes clear that the map was intended to publicise the British view of the boundaries, but unofficially and in a rather underhand way.
The letter begins by explaining that a new official map of Afghanistan is to be produced, which shows the established boundaries, ‘… to the publication of which exception cannot be taken by other countries.’
The accompanying map – ‘unofficially prepared, for confidential use’ shows the actual situation on the ground, and the territories controlled by Afghanistan, Russia and British India. The map is a Survey of India unpublished proof, and boundaries, some of them complex, are marked by hand in colour.
The third part of the letter is most interesting. Having explained the need for an uncontroversial ‘official’ map, and a more controversial, secret, unofficial one, there follows the clear instruction to give an unofficial briefing to commercial cartographers. They should be given access to this unofficial map, as ‘it may be advisable to communicate to them the approximate boundaries, which … we should prefer to have marked in their maps.’ Commercial publishers were to be encouraged to produce maps showing the situation on the ground; in particular, they were ‘to indicate, as certainly not within Afghanistan, the belt of frontier tribes which intervenes between India and Afghanistan.’
The situation the map shows is a complex and confusing one. There is no key, but Afghanistan is outlined in blue, India in red and Russian territory in green. Between the red and blue lines there are territories enclosed by neither and marked ‘Frontier tribes’ – the Survey’s finely hachured relief making clear that the area is mountainous and inaccessible. The border between Afghanisatan and Pakistan now runs through the region; it was divided by the Durand Line in 1896 and is still disputed today.

St. George’s Day and dragons

It’s Saint George’s Day on the 23rd, which gives us a chance to show some items related to England’s Patron Saint and his most famous action, killing the dragon. While there are numerous sites claiming to be the location of the slaying the one closest to the Bodleian is Dragon Hill, just below the Uffington White Horse.

This image comes from sheet XIII.14 of the 1st Ed. County Series for Berkshire (1879) by the Ordnance Survey. The area is rich with archaeological remains. An Iron Age hill-fort and the White Horse are just above Dragon Hill while further along the ancient track the Ridgeway is the Neolithic Long Barrow Waylands Smithy. Dragon Hill is a natural chalk hill which at some point has been levelled, possibly in the Iron Age. Legend has it that the patch of chalk on top where no grass will grow is the place where the dragons blood was split.

This image of White Horse Hill from the north comes from A letter to Dr. Mead concerning some antiquities in Berkshire…By Francis Wise (1738), (Gough Berks 3 (20)), a pamphlet which incorrectly states the Horse was cut to celebrate a nearby victory over the Vikings by the Saxons in 871. Wise writes of the Dragon Hill ‘Between the Ickleton Way and White-Horse Hill, under the horse, stands a large barrow, which the common people living hereabouts call “Dragon Hill”; and they have a tradition “that here St George killed the dragon”. The horse too is brought into the legend, as belonging to the Saint, who is usually pictured on horseback. They shew besides a bare place on top of it, which is a plain of about fifty or sixty yards over where the turf, I don’t know by what means, can gain no footing; which they imagine proceeds “from venomous bloud that issued from the dragon’s wound”. The image of the horse in the Wise pamphlet looks nothing like the abstract figure overlooking the Vale of the White Horse. A similar view of the horse comes from the Oxfordshire Sheldon Tapestry. Dating from the 1590’s the tapestry will be in display in Blackwell Hall in the Summer of 2019. The horse should be on the other side of the hill, but some considerable artistic licence has been introduced to show the both the horse and the geographical layout of the land.

Another pamphlet from Gough Berks 3, explaining the origins of the Saint George figure. And to finish, extracts from The history of the life and martyrdom of St. George, the titular patron of England: with his conversion of Arabia by killing the dreadful Dragon, and delivering the Kings Daughter, a poem published in London in 1664, Wood 536 (4), with the title page from a History of Saint George…from the same volume.

Olympic and Commonwealth Games maps

With the Commonwealth Games taking place on the Gold Coast and the recent donation of a map of the XIII Winter Olympics in Lake Placid in 1980 it seems a good opportunity to show some maps of various Olympic and Commonwealth Games sites from the collection.

XIII Olympic Winter Games 1980, Adirondack Region, New York, U S A, special edition metric topographic map 1980, United States Geological Survey. F6:40 (112)

The majority of maps held in the collection are designed for the visitor, and show locations with text and information, promotional items which in the earliest examples were often part of a general map of a city – such as the 1936 map of Berlin, below – though of the 11 maps held on the Olympics in London in 2012 4 deal with the planning and design of the sites. The Lake Placid games were held in the Adirondack National Park, a mountainous range in North-eastern New York State, a popular winter sports destination which had already held a Winter Olympics in 1932. The map is produced by the U.S. Geological Survey, the national mapping agency for the United States and includes insets showing the lay-outs of the separate sporting areas around the village, including the Luge and Bobsleigh, the Down-Hill course and Village and Olympic centres. 

Maps are a valuable accomplement to exhibitions and events and the Library holds, as well as the Olympic maps shown here, maps of World  and Expo Exhibitions. The following maps are of other Olympic Games held through-out the World.

This map of the Berlin Olympics in 1936 (Stadtplan Berlin, 1936, C22:45 Berlin g.3) is an inset on a small atlas of Berlin, designed to fit into the inside pocket of a jacket. The atlas has tourist information in English, German, Italian and French and despite only being in power for three years the changes brought about by the ruling Nazi Partry can already be seen in some of the street names.  Following on from Berlin are maps of Innsbruck for the 1964 Winter Olympics (C4:20 Innsbruck 18), a lovely depiction of the Olympic Park for the ill-fated Munich Olympics in 1972 (C22:45 Munich (45), a map from Yugoslavia for the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo (C10 (232) ) and to finish two maps of the 1960 Rome Olympics.

 

 

The Rome maps are fascinating because as well as having the official map shown above (C25:50 Rome (55) ) we also have a map that once belonged to the film director Michael Winner, who made a film in 1970 set at the Rome Olympics about the Marathon Race. As well as under-lining in red places were filming took place on the map on the inside cover there is a list of the different locations in Rome where filming took place (C25:50 Rome d.5)

Descriptive sandbanks

 

We are used to seeing maps a certain way; the land in detail with physical features described or shown and generally with north at the top.  On my desk today is a map which turns all that on its head. A chart of the North Sea from the Foreland S to North Bergen, and from the Scaw to the Orkneys and Shetland … By James Thompson, 1777

is a detailed sea chart concentrating on the features at sea, with the land barely getting a look in.

Much is made of the many sandbanks which litter this part of the North Sea with interesting reports, one even describing the Little Fishing Bank as ‘like oatmeal’.

Thompson has also includes several land profiles or “remarkable appearances of land” of coastal features and a descriptive panel to aid the seamen in their navigation. The presence of an identifiable building, such as a church or a distinctive geographical feature were as effective as signposts to mariners.

The other unusual thing about this chart is that for no obvious reason it is oriented with west at the top.

Not a lot is known about John Thompson apart from he described himself as ‘Mariner’ and so was most likely the captain of a vessel crossing the North Sea frequently enabling him the survey the area in such a detailed manner, as shown by the sheer number of soundings. This is in the same vein as Captain James Cook who was doing much the same thing in the Pacific at the time.  It appears that this is Captain Thompson’s magnum opus and is found a small collection of seven charts by sea captains-hydrographers all published in the late 18th century, most by Robert Sayer and John Bennett in London.

 

 

 

A chart of the North Sea, from the Foreland S to North Bergen, and from the Scaw to the Orkneys and Shetland. [1777] (Vet.) 20122 a.13 (3)