Author Archives: stuart

That’s a relief

First day back at work (happy new year btw) made more enjoyable by cataloguing and adding to the collection a set of U.S. Army relief maps of the British Isles.

sheet NO 30-10 covering the Grampians and Ben Nevis

Produced by the Army Map Service of the United States in1956 the plastic sheets have been pressed onto a raised model thus creating a relief image. On the back of the sheet you get the image in reverse. Due to the cut-off for heights shown in relief there are a number of sheets covering the Central and Southern parts of England that have no raised relief at all. Here is the reverse of the Isle of Arran. Relief maps such as these are a joy to look at but troublesome to store, as they can’t take too much weight on them for obvious reasons. Given a normal shelf mark for maps of the British Isles this interesting series will be stored in a box to protect the sheets from being damaged. All together there are 38 sheets at a scale of 1:250,000.

When joined together (as well as possible due to the large marginalia, and with the top north-eastern part missing) Ireland looks like this

While when photographed in profile the coast and peninsulas of Cork looks like this

Britain’s highest peaks are all represented; Sca Fell Pike (978 metres/3,209 feet), Ben Nevis (1,345m/4,411ft), Snowdon (1,085 m/3,560ft) and Carrauntoohil (1,038 m/3,407ft)

while other famous hills and ranges also feature, such as the Cullin Hills of Skye

and the smaller but impressive due to their high position in a low-lying area, Malverns

British Isles, Series M5216P, 1956. C15 (68)

 

 

BCS Map Awards

The British Cartographic Society (http://www.cartography.org.uk/), the leading cartographic organization in the country, hold an annual award ceremony for that year’s best maps. These are a few of the recent entries, chosen because they are both outstanding examples of mapping but also because they each take a different approach to the traditional topographic map. They look good as well.

Jane Tomlinson, an Oxfordshire artist, has created a beautiful work of art in this map of North-West Europe on the theme of the life of Vincent van Gogh. Jane’s work regularly features maps, more can be seen here https://janetomlinson.com/medium/maps/

On the order page for copies of the painting Jane says ‘In this painting, I tell the story of the life and works of Vincent van Gogh through his paintings and words. As it’s a schematic map,  I have shown motifs from some of his best-loved paintings very roughly in the locations where they were made….the actual putting down of paint took only about 6 weekends. But I can honestly say that really it’s taken about 38 years of study’. The page ends with a lovely, and cartographically appropriate, quote ‘You can’t be at the pole and the equator at the same time. You must choose your own line, as I hope to do, and it will probably be colour” wrote Vincent to his brother Theo, April 1888′ (https://janetomlinson.com/artworks/life-and-works-of-vincent-van-gogh/)

Maps International, part of the Lovell Johns group (https://www.mapsinternational.co.uk/), are a cartographic firm close to the Bodleian’s heart, literally as they are based in a village just outside Oxford. They have created this wonderful map of the wines of Europe, with the unique selling point of being Scratch map, so you can scratch off wines you’ve tried, it even has a count bar at the bottom that you scratch off every time you try a new wine. We have in the Bodleian plenty of tactile maps, be they 3-D  relief models with hills, or braille maps and globes, but this is the first scratch map in the collection.

 

The last map comes from the University of Sheffield. This map of British islands 5km² or over takes familiar places out of their normal context and forces us to view them in a different way. Instead of being in their familiar locations just off shore the map makes us realise the different and complex geographical make-up of Great Britain. There are over 4,000 islands of over 0.2 hectares regardless of tide in Britain so these are just the tip of a very large iceberg, or maybe it would be more appropriate to say the cream of the archipelago.

The life and works of Vincent van Gogh, 2017. C1:3 (301)

European Wines 2018. C1 (1072)

Great Britain’s Islands… 2017. C16 (918)

Mr. Carrington’s pocket maps

These small maps, dating from 1864, are designed to fit in the pocket of a waistcoat or jacket. Usually maps of this type are travelling maps and often have timetables included, there are also examples for fox-hunting meets, so to have a World map done in this way is rare.

Showing the equatorial regions with the polar regions at the right the idea is that in folding over the right-hand section of each side you create a wide span of the world. It’s hard to see the use though after the novelty effect of the map has worn off as the scale is such that only the barest information such as relief and major rivers is shown.

The second map, of the constellations, works on the same principle.

As can be seen by the above image of the envelope (still going strong after 154 years) it is quite a flimsy package, and you wonder how long it would last with regular use. Compare it with a more typical example of the genre, with this fox-hunting pocket map with a hard cover,

much more suited for purpose ( Places of meetings of Lord Gifford’s hunt, 1843, C17:7 g.1).

Mr. Carringtons Pocket Maps, 1864. B1 (401)

Early maps of New Zealand

Two early maps of New Zealand, both from the 1840s, which use different names for the three islands. Polynesian settlement dates from around 900, with Abel Tasman being the first European to see the islands in 1642. The Dutch named the islands Nova Zeelandia after the province of Zeeland in 1645 which was then anglicised by Capt. James Cook in 1770.

This first map is by the cartographer John Arrowsmith in 1844. Map of the Colony of New Zealand from official documents by John Arrowsmith and shows how, just 4 years after the Treaty of Waitangi signed between the British and Maori recognizing British sovereignty over the islands the land was already being allocated to European settlement. The islands have unfamiliar names; New Ulster, Munster and Leinster suggesting a strong Irish settlement but in fact come from a new Constitution of Government sent from London in 1846 to replace an earlier unpopular one. The Islands were to be divided into two provinces, Ulster and Munster, with two Governors. Bizarrely the Islands weren’t intended to be split between North and South but on the line of the River Patea, in the North Island, with everywhere north of this to be New Ulster, everywhere south to be New Munster. There was no mention in the new constitution as to why these names were chosen. Arrowsmiths map of 1844 seems to be a reprint of an earlier map from 1841 with additional land ownership information. Arrowsmith  produced maps of New Zealand at this time for official Government reports, and it is likely that this map accompanied a select Committee report on New Zealand from 1844.

This second map, an extract from New Zealand and Oceanic Islands, dates from 1847 and uses Maori names for the two large islands.

The third map is a strange one for a number of reasons.

The map, Map showing New Zealand as it would be situated if placed in corresponding latitude of Northern Hemisphere, but with east (instead of west) longitude, for comparison with countries on the Mediterranean Sea dates from 1968 but places New Zealand over a pre-World War One map of Europe (note the existence of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and pre-war Germany) but in trying to encourage emigration into the country by suggesting temperatures are similar to favourable European countries the text isn’t entirely honest. Auckland’s mean temperatures are compared to Rome despite being closer to Algiers and doesn’t include anywhere on the colder South island.

Finally an inset from the 1844 Arrowsmith map showing a World map with New Zealand in the middle.

 

Maps to mark the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armistice

Maps and other items from the Bodleian to mark the anniversary of the signing of the Armistice.

First a War map of the Western Front showing main lines of retreat and advance 1914-1918… (1919, C1:3 (121). The blue line running north is the front-line in August 1914, the broken red either side is the front-line at the signing of the Armistice four years later. Other lines show the front after key battles while the red shaded area is land to be occupied by Allied troops.

The front page from the Pall Mall Gazette, 11th November 1918. N.288 b.4

Throughout the War burial parties worked to deal with the dead, often burying in shallow graves with a simple cross. At the Armistice the Imperial War Graves Commission set out plans for uniform gravestones giving no distinction in class or rank and, controversially, not to repatriate any bodies. Rudyard Kipling provided text to go on the gravestones and in 1919 authored The Graves of the Fallen,

which gave an idealized view of the cemeteries with trees and plants, which was in contrast to the bomb-scarred landscape left over from 4 years of fighting.

Front cover and extract from The Graves of the Fallen, 1919. 247518 d.26

This next item comes from the Bodleian’s Music Department. Ernest Bristow Farrar (1885-1918) was a promising young composer and organist who was educated at Leeds Grammar School and studied with Charles Stanford at the Royal College of Music before settling in the North, firstly in South Shields, moving to Harrogate in 1912 . He completed his Heroic Elegy in May 1918 whilst training at Raglan Barracks, Devonport as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 3rd Battalion Devonshire Regiment. The work bears the dedication ‘For Soliders’ and Farrar conducted its first performance whilst on leave in Harrogate on 3 July. He finally left for France on 6 September but, after only two days on duty at the front, was killed on 18 September leading his men at the Battle of Epéhy Ronssoy, just a few weeks before the Armistice brought hostilities to a close. The piece is a moving tribute to his fellow soldiers and incorporates bugle calls and strains of the 15th-Century Agincourt Song into the music. This is an extract from the manuscript of the work held in the Bodleian. Farrar is buried In Ronssoy Communal cemetery (grave B.27) about 15km north-west of Saint-Quentin.

Heroic Elegy, Ernest Farrar. Ms. Mus. C434 fol. 1r. 1918 *

Finally maps to show War Graves around the Ypres area. The red crosses mark a Commonwealth Cemetery.

with extracts, first of the area around Zonnebeke. Just off the map at no. 31 is Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest Commonwealth War Graves cemetery in the World.

And an extract of the map for the Ypres area

Belgium and part of France 1:40,000 1923 C28:18 (14)

And to finish, an extract from a trench map made at the end of the Third Battle of Ypres, just after the capture of the village of Passchendaele. At the bottom of the map is the hamlet of Tyne Cott and the start of the Allied cemetery.

Extract from Zonnebeke 28 n.e. 1, Dec 1917, C1 (3) [720]. This is the 9a edition of a sheet updated throughout the advance made by the Allied troops throughout the battle. British trenches in red, German in blue. Trench maps very rarely show British trenches in too much detail in case the map was captured by the enemy.

* With thanks to our colleagues from the Music Department for the piece on Ernest Farrar.

 

Pacific tectonics Soviet-style

This large (2.5 by 2.2 metres), colorful and complex map of Pacific tectonic activity was produced by the Academy of Sciences of the Soviet Union. Printed on 6 sheets the Tectonic Map of the Pacific Segment of the Earth, spans an area from the Bering Straits in the north to Antarctica in the south, from the Americas in the west to the countries of South-East Asia. This is a large map covering a large area.

Tectonics, and the structural activity such as volcanoes and earthquakes that result, are a tricky thing to show, as can be seen on the map. Fault lines, areas of volcanic and earthquake zones and different eras of geological time often overlap and make for a complicated view where it is tricky to get an idea of where you are without closer inspection.  Due to the large area covered

the projection means the countries portrayed follow the curvature of the earth, so the Americas starts at the top middle and then goes down the right-hand side of the map while the Soviet Union and then the countries of east Asia; China, Malaysia, Cambodia and so on are on the left. Australia is above the legend on the bottom left sheet.

The two blue lines running from north-west to south-east represent the Great Barrier Reef

Japans complex geological make-up can be seen by the amount of detail overlaying the islands.The black dots are volcanoes, the black lines with spikes are main fault zones while the purple lines are geosyncline trenches (folds in the earths crust). The different colours represent different eras in geologically history.

At the time this map was published the concept of tectonics was going through major changes. The discovery, made after important mapping surveys of the oceans floors in the 1950’s and 1960’s, of seafloor spreading (where vents on the ocean floor bring up rocks from the earth which slowly, very slowly, spread out until they meet the edge of the continental shelf and disappear back into the earth again like a conveyor belt) led to the somewhat grudging acceptance of plate tectonics in the mid-1960s. Tectonic plates are a series of large and numerous smaller plates that make up the surface of the Earth, and it is the movement of these plates that creates areas of weakness in the Earth leading to, amongst other things, volcanoes and earthquakes. Plate tectonics and continental drift explain a great deal about the Earth; how South America looks like it could join up with Africa like a giant jigsaw (something which has been puzzling people since the 1600s), how fossil strata and rock formations match up in countries separated by vast oceans, how the same rocks are found on shores thousands of miles apart. As Bill Bryson notes in his book A short history of nearly everything  the acceptance of these theories suddenly meant that ‘Geologists…found themselves in the giddy position where the whole Earth suddenly made sense’.

The volcano of Krakatoa, the black dot at the northern end of the orange line, between Java and Sumatra.

The idea behind plate tectonics, that the earths crust could move, had its origins in ideas from the turn of the century. One of the earliest exponents of drifting continents was Alfred Wegener, a German meteorologist. He published a book in 1912 called Die Entstehung der Kontinente und Ozeane setting out the theory that the continents were once all joined together and had, throughout time, separated and re-joined in different ways a number of times. Here is the title page from the earliest English translation in the Bodleian from 1924

Wegener’s theory didn’t go down well in the scientific community, not only going against current thinking but also coming from someone working outside the relevant disciplines, Wenger after-all, being in their eyes only a weatherman.

The Physical Atlas of Natural Phaenomena, 1849. Allen LRO 393

This extract from an atlas published in 1849 shows the volcanic activity in the Pacific area, with the red dots indicating active volcanoes, the black inactive. This map shows how the Pacific plate, which runs along the line of the activity, was evident even if Scientists of the day were unaware of the concept.

Tectonic Map of the Pacific Segment of the Earth, Academy of Sciences of the U.S.S.R. 1970. J1 (188)

 

 

 

A railway guide from this world to the next

‘The object of this guide is to afford an accurate description of the various competing lines from Time to Eternity, as well as of the country through which they pass; to instruct all passengers in a familiar, sometimes humourous, but always sober and rational manner; and thereby to assist the judgement in the choice of lines, so as to ensure safe and expeditious travelling. It is designed not only for travellers by rail, but for all without distinction’.

The guide mentioned in the introduction to ‘The new railway guide, or thoughts for thinkers on the road from this World to the next’ is a small 32 page book which accompanies one of the strangest maps in the Bodleian. By taking different paths from the ‘City of the World’ the traveller can find themselves either in the land of Glory or Perdition either by going through the countries of ‘Holylivingshire’ and Sanctificationshire’, or the lands of ‘Follyshire’ or ‘Evilhabitshire’. Both journeys first have to go through the rather unpleasant sounding ‘Natural Depravityshire’ , a land of swamps and strange creatures that adhere themselves to the carriages. There are 6 lines that leave the City of the World for Perdition; ignorance, superstition, infidelity, hypocrisy, fashion and intemperance lines. These are matched by the lines that leave for Glory; Popery,  Protestant, Independent, Episcopalian, Presbyterian and Methodist lines.

Despite the comic aspect to the map and the title there is a clear moral message to take from the book, which is set out early in the text. ‘The accompanying map…affords a general view of the country through which the lines pass from time to eternity. There is constant traffic between the two places; and as the reader will probably have to pass at some period from the one to the other, he will do well to cast his eye over the map beforehand’.

Maps such as this are a common feature in books of the time, either travel guides, battlefield guides or books on history. This map has been cleverly designed to give, along with the accompanying text, the illusion of a real place with religious instruction and moral guidance the intended destination.

The guide then goes onto describe the countries passed through to the two destinations, giving the good points on one hand, the bad on the other. The book and map have been designed to look like  standard railway guide of the time. Information is given on the quality of the carriages, gauges, prices and times of each different line as well as details of the various countries passed through. This closely mirrors authentic railway guides of the time, as can be seen from the examples here, taken from Fowler’s Railway Traveller’s Guide from circa 1840

 

The new railway guide, or thoughts for thinkers on the road from this World to the next…accompanied by an accurate map of the principal competing lines. 1848, 48.1515.

 

 

Looking down on the World

Projections are used to show a spherical object, the Earth, on a flat piece of paper. There are many different projections and quite a few throw the Earth into strange and unusual shapes, such as the example shown here. This map of the World uses a projection designed to show the whole of the World while keeping the spherical shape of the Globe intact. Doing so leads to a bizarre World-view though, with meridian lines radiating out from the North Pole but still allowing for a fair representation of the South Pole by curving the lines of latitude and longitude.

The benefits of the Azimuthal Equidistant Projection is that true scale can be measured between two points, and maps with this projection usually centre on a particular place, in this case London. Most of the World is accurately portrayed, and it is only the countries of Australasia, and in particular New Zealand that suffer as the lines of longitude increasingly bow out as they get further away from London.

It’s probably best not to stare too long at this map.

The World on the Azimuthal Equidistant Projection showing the true bearing and distance from London… Admiralty, 1950. B1 (1602)

A Victorian view of the World

This colourful and informative view of the World from 1882 is a classic example of a Victorian map. Famous battles, races of the World, information on the stars and hemispheres, lengths of rivers, heights of mountains are just some of the examples of information shown in what would have been intended primarily as a school map.

In the four corners are shown famous explorers, Columbus and Cook at top, Livingstone and Humboldt below while between there is a double hemisphere map showing the countries of the World, ocean currents and shipping routes.

This double hemisphere map also manages to include graphics showing the highest mountains and longest rivers as well as a map of the Solar System. The map also shows the natives of the World, with written descriptions of various races

as well as a diagram rather grandly titled ‘The Universal Time Dial Plate’ showing the different time zones of various cities throughout the World compared to London.

Text fills the spaces where there are no maps or pictures, telling us of the different races in the World, the way the Solar System works and the shape and size of the Earth. This is a map full of information and gives a real sense of what the Victorian world-view was. Just think how a child’s imagination would have been fired by seeing this in the classroom every day.

The Pictorial View of the World, 1882. B1 (261)

Going, invasion and defence maps

From plotting troop deployment to setting out enemy positions to showing the ground conditions for tank movement maps have proved vital in the planning and carrying out of military operations in time of war.

The Bodleian’s holdings before the Boer war tend to be of mapping published after the event, mainly to illustrate books, such as this plan of the battle of Austerlitz printed in 1805.

Plan de schlacht von Austerlitz a m 2 then December 1805. (E) C1:5 (445) c1805

Another example is this sheet from a three map set showing the course of the three-day battle of Gettysburg printed not long after the decisive battle of the American Civil War in 1876.

Map of the battlefield of Gettysburg, 1st, 2nd, 3rd July 1863. F6:46 (3) 1876

The wars in South Africa saw an increase in maps produced during the conflicts. This manuscript map of Ladysmith made before the siege in 1899 is just one example of a number of manuscript and printed maps held in the Bodleian for the Boer and Zulu wars. The map mentions how it was sketched with the aid of a prismatic compass. Ladysmith was the headquarters of the British Forces in Natal against the Boer Army during the Second Boer War.

 

Approaches to Ladysmith, 1897 (MS) E54:11 (39)

The huge technical demands and the importance put on accurate artillery forced a huge improvement in the production of maps by both sides in the First World War and maps in their millions were produced, often in the later stages of the conflict in mobile printing workshops in the field. As well as the more famous trench maps early tank maps were produced as well as artillery barrage mapping and maps of no-mans land.

Detail of wire etc in no mans land, secret no. 84A. 1916. C1 (3) [269]

But it was with the Second World War and the global aspect of the threat of invasion by land and sea that military mapping went to levels not seen before. Goings maps, which showed ground conditions for the movement of tanks, enemy defensive positions, not so much from an artillery point of view but more so for troop invasions, and general intelligence maps, showing ground conditions, enemy positions and strengths. Take this enemy defences map of the area around Equeurdreville, on the western outskirts of Cherbourg. All the blue symbols mark enemy defences and artillery, the location of which had been gathered from aerial photography and observations from the Resistance or off-shore reconnaissance.

Maps such as this were crucial to the planning and carrying out of the D-Day invasion in June 1944 and the importance of these maps can be seen by the level of security marked on them, including…

France 1:25,000 Sheet 31/22 S.W. 1944 C21 (19b)

Going maps show the different levels of terrain and ease of use of that terrain for tank movement. These maps are often highly coloured and very detailed, included here are allied examples from Holland (with legend)

Holland 1:25,000 going map 1944 C1:3 (300)

and an example from Italy, without the range of colour but with more description . Interesting to note the lack of information on part of the map and the way the roads have been highlighted

Italy 1:50,000 1944 C25 (21c)

This use of mapping wasn’t just restricted to the Allied forces. The Japanese General Staff (Rikugun Sanbō Honbu) produced intelligence report maps of Papua New Guinea during what the allies called the New Guinea campaign, this example shows the island of New Ireland

with an extract of the northern tip of the island

1:500,000 New Ireland Is. Military Intelligence Source Map, 1944. D44 (80)

While these maps come from a 1:100,000 series of Poland done by the German Army, with information on terrain and geology overlaid onto a topographic map, first the complete map and then an extract of the south of Warsaw

with an extract from a another sheet in the series of the area around Kielce showing going information (sandiger lehm = sandy clay, lichter kiefernhochwald gut gangbar = light pine forest well passable).

Karte des Deutschen Reiches, 1944, sheets 357 and 374. C31 (46a)