Author Archives: stuart

Before and after

Is there a more famous event in the history of London than the fire which started on the 2nd of September 1666? We call this the Great Fire to separate it from numerous conflagrations that had beset the city both before and after. One unexpected outcome of the disaster was the amount of mapping produced in the immediate aftermath, mainly to support the number of different proposals for redevelopment. One of quickest to print was this map, made a mere fortnight after the end of the fire by Valentine Knight.

Several proportions and scheems were offer’d to rebuild the City of London after the great fire. This one was proposed by Val. Knight, 1666. (E) C17:70 London (485)

This hastily made map isn’t the important part of Knight’s proposals, that comes in the accompanying text which sets out his ideas for redevelopment. The map does give an immediate view of the damage caused by the fire though, almost all buildings in the City destroyed, including over 13,000 houses, close to 90 Parish Churches and then some of the major buildings within the City, including St Paul’s. Of his proposals number 9 suggested a way that the rebuilding could be paid for, setting out a scheme of rent and deposits that could be charged on the grander houses. In part of the proposal Knight writes ‘…with all the fines [fees] shall be paid to the King, his heirs and successors, towards the maintenance of his forces by land and sea…’. The idea that the King could profit from the fire so incensed Charles II that Knight was temporally imprisoned.

This neater map was made in the year of the fire by the diarist and contemporary of Samuel Pepys, John Evelyn. Evelyn’s plan allows for a neater layout of the City but was rejected as being too expensive and cumbersome with the large number of different land holders involved, as was Knight’s.

What with the destruction to life and property the fire made any earlier maps outdated, such as this wonderful panorama of the city (stitched together digitally from the three sheets that make up the set for this blog) which was printed earlier in the year of the fire by Wenceslaus Hollar

 

The Prospect of London and Westminster taken from Lambeth. Version I, the original state, 1666, C17:70 London (1365)

The view of the City, from Lambeth Palace from the south bank, shows a host of church spires, with in the middle of them all St Paul’s. All were destroyed so Hollar had to make a new map showing the post-fire cityscape. Here’s the original sheet covering the City

and here’s the revised sheet with the new St Paul’s and Parish Churches.

This image of the new design for the dome of St Paul’s is part of a small set of maps made by Sir Christopher Wren for the rebuilding of the Cathedral.

Old St Paul’s; a section showing the choir with Wren’s suggestion for a dome over the crossing and a new nave. [Together with] Ground plan, 1666. (E) C17:70 London (498).

Hollar produced many maps of the city, including one showing the area destroyed in the flames. An inset shows the fire at its height

When one name leads to another

Most of the blogs here are fairly easy to write. You have the map, you have enough knowledge to write about the map, and if not books in the library will help. Occasionally you start looking into something where one clue leads to another, where one name stands out or where something doesn’t seem right.

This seemingly innocent small atlas , with three maps from the U.S. Geological Survey at 1:125,000, looks at first glance to be a simple presentation to friends.

But the dedicator, Albrecht Penck, is a familiar name. Penck was a German geographer and geologist who was the instigator of the acclaimed mapping series the International Map of the World. At the 5th International Geographical Congress in Berne in 1891 Penck proposed that there should be a standard map coverage of scale and design covering the World, and after further discussion in following congress meetings a design and a way of producing the maps was agreed on at the London Congress in 1909. More on the IMW series of maps can be found here

As for why Penck was sending out best wishes from the Townshend Ranch, that is more of a conundrum. He travelled to the United States a number of times but there seems to be no biographical information about a trip to Colorado. The story takes another twist when you look into the Townshend Ranch, which annoyingly doesn’t actually appear on any of the three maps in the atlas, something not helped by the fact that the ranch was by Black Squirrel Creek, and there are a number of different creeks in El Paso County with this name (the extract on the right is just one of two Black Squirrel Creeks on the three sheets in the atlas, Big Springs Sheet, Colorado, 1:125,000 1900). Born in England in 1846 Richard Baxter Townshend emigrated to the United States in 1869, moving around the south west before building a ranch alongside the creek. Townshend returned to England after making money in the States, married and eventually got a tutor’s position in Wadham College, across the road from the Bodleian here in Oxford. He wrote about his adventures in ‘Tenderfoot in Colorado’, first published in 1923.

The maps are published by the United States Geological Survey (U.S.G.S.). The rather bland description ‘U.S. Geological Survey, J.W. Powell, Director’ doesn’t do justice to a remarkable man. Born in New York to English parents Powell had explored most of the major rivers of the Eastern United States before signing on as a cartographer and engineer with the Union army in 1861. During the Battle of Shiloh the following year his right arm was blown off, making his subsequent achievement of being the first man to sail down the Colorado and Green Rivers, passing through the Grand Canyon on the way, even more remarkable.

Townshend’s story didn’t end there though, as his name continues to ring out every time the ‘Enigma Variations’ is played. Townshend was a close friend of Edward Elgar, who dedicated the third of the Variations to ‘R.B.T.’

 

 

The first of these next two images comes from ‘My friends pictured within‘ by Edward Elgar, (17402 d.799) which shows the people Elgar dedicated the different variations to. The second image is the start of the score to variations No. 3, dedicated to R.B.T. This is from the first published copy of the score from 1898 (Mus 221 c.40)*.

The Townshend Ranch, El Paso County, Colorado U.S.A.’ 1908 F6:14 b.1

  • Thanks to colleagues from our excellent Music Department here at the Bodleian

дорожное путешествие!

This beautiful map, published in 1965, shows that it’s not just the U.S. that does lovely road maps. Over three strips in a small atlas the road from Moscow to Simferopol via Kursk and Kharkiv (in Russian Kharkov) is shown in pictorial form.

It is the perfect map for a road trip. Starting at Moscow, with the white Grand Kremlin Palace visible behind the trees, going south following what is now the E105, part of the International E-Road network which starts in the north of Norway and finishes at Yalta, the map (and road) finishes in Simferopol, capital of what was at the time of the map the Crimean Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Next to the map is text giving tourist information along the way. Throughout the map and amongst the text are small pictures of life on the road, camping

or, just in case you were having too much fun and needed a reminder of Soviet achievement, tanks on a War memorial

The map is part of a series, the Bodleian also has a version going from Moscow to the Trans-Carparthian region of Ukraine. This follows the same design as our featured map (including the lovely picture of the crane shown here) but does include a warning to the perils of the road.

As the introduction says, ‘Traveling by car from Moscow to Simferopol enjoys well-deserved popularity. The route of travel passes along a well-equipped highway, suitable for traffic at any time of the year’. Time for a holiday, mid-60s Soviet style.

If you fancied something a bit more sedate here’s a page from a travel guide to the Oka River, which flows south of Moscow.  All three maps are published by the Main Directorate of Geodesy and Cartography of the State Geological Committee of the USSR.

More on U.S. road maps here

Moskva Khar’kov Simferopol‘. 1965, Glavnoe Upravlenie Geodezii i Kartografii Gosudarstvennogo Geologicheskogo Komiteta SSSR. C40:6 d.3

Moskva – Kiyev – Zakarpat’ye, 1964 Glavnoe Upravlenie Geodezii i Kartografii Gosudarstvennogo Geologicheskogo Komiteta SSSR. C40:6 d.4

По Оке (On the Oka), 1964. Glavnoe Upravlenie Geodezii i Kartografii Gosudarstvennogo Geologicheskogo Komiteta SSSR. C40:6 d.5

A map of the most beautiful place in the World (perhaps)

The Lake District is one of the most beautiful areas in the country. Don’t just take my word for it, take Peter Crosthwaite’s. This map, created by Crosthwaite, is titled ‘An acurate map of the matchless lake of Derwent (situate in the most delightful Vale which perhaps ever human eye beheld) near Keswick, Cumberland…’  Considering that Crosthwaite alludes to himself as ‘Admiral to the Keswick Regatta, Keeper of the museum at Keswick, guide, geographer and hydrographer to the nobility and gentry who make the tour of the Lakes’ he obviously wasn’t one for modesty.

The map itself doesn’t quite match the beauty of the location but it does include a lot of useful information; spot depths in the lake and travel and tourist information. As with most maps of the time Gentlemen in the area are named and the major houses in the area are portrayed. Crosthwaithe made maps of other lakes, including Windermere (shown here) and Coniston. While neither have such flowery titles both have poems extolling the landscape shown.

All the maps feature ‘West’s stations’, viewpoints mentioned in one of the earliest guides written about the area, Thomas West’s ‘A guide to the Lakes: : dedicated to the lovers of landscape studies, and to all who have visited, or intend to visit the lakes in Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire’. West and Crosthwaite were promoting the Lake District at a time when tourism to the area began to grow.

Many cartographers make bold claims with their maps, with titles including such phrases as ‘an exact survey’, ‘new and improved’ and ‘drawn from the best authorities’. These maps flip that convention around by putting the praise back where it belongs, the countryside.

An accurate map of the matchless Lake of Derwent (situate in the most delightful vale which perhaps ever human eye beheld) near Keswick, Cumberland; with West’s seven stations 1784. (E) C17:22 (9)

Dog-eared

We all have maps like this. Dog-eared, well used, creased, pushed into pockets or bashed about in a rucksack. For whatever reason they show signs of wear and tear, which is an inevitable outcome considering the purpose of Ordnance Survey Landrangers and Explorers in the first place. Every crease or mark is a souvenir of a good walk or cycle.

This map, Landranger 194, Dorchester, Weymouth & surrounding area, from 1989 went on an early walking holiday with the future wife, in the early 90s. We took her dog Tess with us, an intelligent Labrador with a sense of fun. On one walk the map was spread out on the grass to plot the route and Tess walked across it. Tess is long-gone, but her paw print is still there, over Winterbourne Abbas and its stone circle, the Nine Stones. The map may have been superseded, but the personal importance will never go out of date.

We all have maps like this, don’t we? We have in the collections at the Bodleian. It’s exciting to come across a map that has been changed in someway, often to suit the owners’ needs. War seems often to be a cause, be it an altered trench map to show terrain

or a commercial Ordnance Survey 1/4″ sheet with additional marks made by a First World War pilot marking safe landing grounds around London (more on this map can be found here)

Then there are the plain bizarre, these links will take you to earlier blog posts of an intriguing burn mark on a map made during the Revolutionary period in France (here) and a map used by the film director Michael Winner to plan scenes for a film set during the Rome Olympics (here), 

Wife and dog on Dorset walk. Note state of paws, those aren’t socks.

Making a point

What connects contraband, the Magna Carta, one-upmanship and the sin of earthly desire? The answer is Emanuel Bowen’s map from 1733, A New and Accurate Map of England and Wales’. 

In this map Bowen shows the roads throughout the country, with additional information on either the map or on the accompanying sheets giving distances from London and whether the roads are post, cross or ‘roads not to be found on Mr. Ogilby’s survey’ . If this was all the map did it would be a very good example of a common road map of the time (Bowen had produced earlier road maps that again had a dig at John Ogilby, with his ‘Britannia depicta or Ogilby improv’d’ set of road maps’ atlas). What sets this map apart from all others is the championing of the Members of Parliament that had recently voted against an Excise Bill. Introduced by Robert Walpole, generally regarded as the country’s first official Prime Minister, the Bill was intended to raise taxes on contraband goods while reducing the taxes of the rich landowners, appeasing those who had the power to vote. The idea that tax officers could go into people’s houses looking for such goods proved so unpopular – William Pitt, MP, led the rallying cry with ‘an Englishman’s house is his castle’ – that the Bill was quickly dropped. Bowen dedicates his map to the ‘the 205 members endear’d to their country by so seasonable an interposition in defence of it’s liberties’.  Bowen further emphasises this sense of liberty by evoking an earlier time when the Crown and right of rule was challenged. The arms of the Members of Parliament that voted against the BIll feature on two accompanying sheets, the coats of arms that appear underneath the map are for those Barons who forced King John to sign the Magna Carta in 1215, protecting rights and restricting the power of the Crown. To make the point further Bowen uses symbolism around the cartouche to reinforce this connection between the 1215 and 1733 opposition to the State and Crown

On the left is Liberty, here shown with a staff topped by a Liberty Cap (which dates back to Ancient Rome, and were worn by freed slaves) while on the right is Britannia, holding a copy of the Magna C[h]arta. The chained figure represents man enslaved by earthly desires. Bowen’s opposition to the Bill didn’t do him any harm in the long-run as he eventually became Royal Geographer to George II, despite the King supporting Walpole after the defeat of the Bill and the opposition in both Parliament and on the streets .

The Bodleian has four copies of the Magna Carta, the earliest from 1217, which can be viewed here

The ‘Mr Ogilby’ derided at every opportunity by Bowen is John Ogilby, who in 1675 published the first set of road maps done as a set of strips. Ogilby’s work was revolutionary, but due to reasons possibly nefarious left out some routes, more on his story can be found in an earlier blog here

A New and Accurate Map of England and Wales… Where unto are added… a list of Members… who voted for & against bringing in ye late Excise Scheme. 1733. (E) C17 (540)

hey, you, get off my cloud…

In an already crowded field this has to be one of the more over the top cartouches.

A cartouche is a decorative part of the map that contains information such as the title, cartographer and other relevant text, and often uses symbolism to portray a meaning rooted in Renaissance thinking. It can also, in the case of this map, include a dedication to a person who is either the patron to the map-maker or subscriber to the map being made, the original crowd-funding. Here’s a guide to what is actually going on with this map of Surrey, dedicated to His Royal Highness William Henry.

Prince William Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh (1), grandson to King George II and brother to King George III, is surrounded by the the Nine Muses of Greek mythology, and with Geography, an additional Muse introduced during the Renaissance. The Muses are symbols for knowledge and the arts, and by portraying them and the Prince together the inference is that the Prince, and by association the map-makers, both deserve to be included in such lofty company. Amongst the Muses are Clio, who represents history and is usually shown with a book or a scroll and often a lyre (2), Melpomene, the Muse of Tragedy (3) holding a dagger, Urania, associated with astronomy, usually shown with a globe, compass or armillary sphere (4) and, appropriately, Geography, shown with a telescope and other surveying tools (5). The Muses to the left of Prince William Henry draw his attention to lavish praise given in the cartouche.                                                                                                                                          Amongst this wealth of decoration is something that is easily over-looked but is as important at the time the map was made and now. Because of the lack of female cartographers Mary Ann Rocque deserves her place in the clouds (6). The title of the map is ‘A topographical map of the county of Surrey, in which is expressed all the roads, lanes, churches… the principal observations by the late John Rocque… compleated and engrav’d by Peter Andrews’ and this is the third edition,  from c1775. John Rocque died in 1762 and his wife Mary Ann carried on publishing maps after his death. Even though Rocque surveyed Surrey in preparation for this map it was Mary Ann who was responsible for the printing and selling of the work and it is Mary Ann, ‘his most h[um]ble and oblig’d servant’ who dedicates the map to the Prince. Mary Ann went on to make maps herself, eventually being awarded the title ‘Topographer to HRH the Duke of Gloucester’.

The skill involved in engraving the cartouche is apparent throughout the beautifully coloured map. This extract of the Horsell area shows off the skill involved in engraving such fine detail.

This is the only map that John Rocque and Peter Andrews worked on together though Andrews did further work for Mary Ann Rocque before concentrating on nautical charts. The two different colours on this extract are for separate Hundreds, a county division larger that a Parish. For different reasons Horsell features in an earlier blog post here

A topographical map of the county of Surrey, in which is expressed all the roads, lanes, churches… the principal observations by the late John Rocque… compleated and engrav’d by Peter Andrews. c1775 (E) C17:57 (31)

 

Counting people

March 2021 is a census month, the 22nd since the first in 1801 (the 1941 census was cancelled due to the war*). United Kingdom censuses initially set out to count the number of people and their employment, it wasn’t until 1841, the date of our map, that names were taken. From the 1851 census onwards information such as disabilities and religion was gathered as well. Here is a map showing information from the 1841 census, the rather wonderfully titled ‘Map of the British Isles, elucidating the distribution of the population, based on the census of 1841. Compiled & drawn by Augustus Petermann’.

Map of the British Isles, elucidating the distribution of the population, based on the census of 1841. Compiled & drawn by Augustus Petermann’. c1847. (E) C15 (157)

The map works by way of shading and spots. The shading indicates the varying degrees of population over the country, with the darker shading showing an area of denser population, while the coloured dots show towns according to population size (red for towns of 100,000 or more and so-on down to a clear dot for towns of under 10,000). It’s not an ideal way to show a large amount of information but gives an immediate idea of where populations are; London, the Midlands, the Manchester-Liverpool and Glasgow-Edinburgh regions, and of how under populated the country-side was, partly by this point as a result of Enclosure Acts forcing people off the land and into the cities and towns. Here’s an extract showing London in more detail

The numbers shown (204 for Sussex for example) shows the average number of people per square mile, or as the map nicely puts it ‘the number of souls to 1 English (statute) mile’. There is also a table listing population per county.

Text on the map explains how geography has played a part in population. ‘Mountains and valleys determine the main features in the distribution of the population, the latter exhibiting naturally the greater masses’. Petermann gives as an example Scotland, and how with a wide range of Mountainous areas most of the population live in-between the Firths of Clyde and Forth, with a 3rd of the total population occupying a 30th of the land mass. Ireland, by comparison generally has smaller mountain groups, and less of them, so there is a more even spread of population.

The 1801 census asked 6 questions. Broadly speaking these were; how many inhabited houses in each Parish, Township or place, and how many families live in each one, how many people in each parish etc, distinguishing between male and female, how many are employed in agriculture, trade, manufacturing and handicrafts, how many baptisms and burials in the years 1700, 1710, 1720 and so-on until 1800, how many marriages between 1754 and 1800 (1754 chosen as the year when a Marriage Act made the year before came into force), and then finally if there were any questions or notes about any of the previous questions.

Augustus Petermann was a celebrated German cartographer, learning his trade in Germany, then Scotland before moving to London to work in 1847. He became a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and, which accounts for the dedication in the title, ‘Physical-Geographer Royal’ to Queen Victoria.  Unfortunately professional success wasn’t matched in his private life. His first marriage ended in divorce, his second in suicide in 1878.

The Bodleian has a large number of maps and atlases which makes use census information. Census information also began to appear in gazetteers from the 1830s onwards, when, with the availability to compare current to previous figures accurately, population figures for towns could be given. This population map of the Saxony region of Germany is a recent addition to the map collection. Volksdichte-Schichtenkarte des Königreiches Sachsen nach der Zählung vom 1. Dezember 1900 (Population density layers map of the Kingdom of Saxony after the census of December 1, 1900) shows density of population by colour with two insets for the areas around Dresden and Leipzig from an earlier 1846 census. The map uses a technique called isopleth to show the density of population. Isopleth uses lines to show areas of equal value, the lines are similar to contours on a physical map and work on the same principle. The main advantage is that you can see at a glance the heavily populated areas by the colour ranges shown on the graph. That Saxony was, in 1900, a mainly rural area can be seen be the amount of green and brown cover shown.

Volksdichte-Schichtenkarte des Königreiches Sachsen nach der Zählung vom 1. Dezember 1900, C22:25 (74)

*There was a census count in 1966, the first and only time a mid-decade count was made.

 

Mapping radiation

On the 26th April 1986 technicians at the Chernobyl Power Plant in the Ukrainian SSR turned off the power to the number 4 reactor, hoping to test back-up generators used to keep the cooling waters circulating in case of a power outage. During the test the power-levels dropped to unexpected and dangerous levels. Following instructions that didn’t allow for such a possibility meant that the test proceeded, leading to a chain reaction releasing a huge amount of energy which immediately vaporized the cooling water, caused a devastating steam explosion and then the escape of a large radiation cloud. Wind conditions and proximity to the site meant that most of this radiation fell on the Byelorussian SSR.

This map, made post-independence in 1992, shows the density of pollution caused by Caesium-137 at different levels of contamination (a radioactive isotype that reacts with water, which as a consequence makes it easy to move around the body. It is one of the two most prominent isotypes released after the accident, and will continue to be a major health hazard in the area for the next two hundred years). The strong use of colours, more reminiscent of coloured-layering, is here used to show dramatically the area of contamination. There is also an inset of the area nearest the nuclear site showing strontium and plutonium radiation (Chernobyl is at the bottom centre of the map, Черновыль). What the map doesn’t show, of course, is the human cost to this tragedy. Only the title, ‘…until January 1992’, hints at a lethal problem still in place 6 years after the event. An updated version from 1993 manages to convey this cost though. Text in a number of languages states ‘…a catastrophe broke out – the major break-down of the power unit at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station. By its scale, complicity and long-term consequences it is the most severe catastrophe throughout the entire World history of atomic energy use…after the Chernobyl accident Belarus has become the zone of of the ecological disaster‘.  The text is in a number of languages; Russian, English, French, German and Polish, and when you carry on reading you realise why. As well as a map to show the spread of radiation following the accident the map is also a plea for international aid, ‘But the extent of the consequences of the catastrophe of the Chernobyl Power Station is so enormous that, it is regrettably, impossible for Belarus to liquidate them alone. The Republic badly needs medicines…The Byelorussian people, guiltless victims of the severe catastrophe, need the help of the international community.’

This extract comes from the back of the 1993 map, which includes the appeal for international aid. The three maps show the spread of the contaminated cloud between the April 27 and May 1st.

Maps have played a crucial roll in showing the aftermath of the Chernobyl incident. From tracking the contaminated cloud spreading across Eastern Europe to the more long-term mapping of contaminated lands maps have been the most useful medium to show the immediate and long-term effects of the disaster.

The Bodleian holds maps from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Office for Official Publications of European Communities and the Hungarian Academy Research Centre for Astronomy and Earth Sciences as well as commercial publishers on Chernobyl and there are a number of interesting websites on the disaster, including Chernobyl Exclusion Zone Map – Chernobyl 35 years laterNew mapping of radioactive fallout in Western Europe | EU Science Hub (europa.eu) and  ESA – Mapping Chernobyl fires from space

Карtа Радиационной Обстановки на территории Республики по на Январь 1992 г (Map of the radiation situation on the Territory of the Republic until January 1992) 1992 C403 (101). The 1993 map, Republic of Belarus. Review – topographic map with the data on radiation contamination is at C403 (104). Both maps are at 1:1,000,000

 

How to make a map Soviet style

On the reverse of a map of Minsk from 1991 there are some interesting and unusual sections. As well as including instructions on measuring distances there are also examples of the same area at different scales (1:1,000,000 going down to 1:10,000 and centring on the village of Borovsty). Shown here are the 1:1,000,000, 1:500,000 and 1;200,000 scale maps as well as two pictures about orientation

 

Map reading instructions and examples of different scales aren’t uncommon features, what makes this particular map stand out is the little diagram showing the process of making a map, from planning (ПроеКт) through surveying (aerial as well as ground-work) to drawing

 

and production and finishing with sales. Can the whole exercise be included as proof that the Soviet system still worked despite the Union breaking apart?, the Byelorussian SSR itself declared independence the same year the map was made, becoming Belarus.

The end result of all this work is the main map, made by the Soviet Cartographic Department, the Glavnoe upravlenie geodezii i kartografii, more commonly known as the GUGK (Main Directorate of Geodesy and Cartography). The use of oranges and greens here is a common feature of Soviet maps, immediately recognizable as a product of the GUGK.

 

Mинск и окрестности (Minsk and surroundings) 1991. C40:12 (40)