Category Archives: History

Winter short, but very cold

The end of January marks the eightieth anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, generally regarded amongst military historians as the turning point of the Second World War. German troops in the city surrendered on January 31st, with the encircled troops to the north following on a few days later. For Germany Stalingrad was meant to be a quick battle, a way of cutting off the Volga River supply route before the main objective of the Caucasus oilfields. Instead vicious street fighting bogged down an already extended army, forcing them into another Russian winter.

In preparation for the invasion of Russia in June 1941 the German army produced a large amount of mapping. Most of the topographic at 1:50,000, 1:100,000 and 1:200,000 was based on pre-existing Russian maps but the Germans also produced a large amount of small scale mapping, including thematic maps, to help plan the invasion. Examples here show both the range of maps made and the logistical issues involved in invading a country which had, in the countryside at least, poor transport in place and a winter that could be brutal. Due to the large size of the maps shown here these extracts centre on Stalingrad.

Wehrgeologische Übersichtskarte des Europäischen Russlands, 1941. C40:6 (163)

This extract from a much larger map shows the geological conditions around Stalingrad (which is just north-east of centre, on the bend of the river). The brown indicates a loess soil structure, which makes for finely grained soil. Good for agriculture but not much good for transport or water retention, something which the legend on the map states, ‘wasserversorgung schwierig’ (‘water supply difficult). The map also shows something else that was going to be a major problem for the German troops fighting in the area. The dotted blue lines show areas of frost by months. Stalingrad falls into the zone where there was on average four months of frost which, with extended supply lines and lack of winter-clothing, led to German troops fighting in freezing conditions without appropriate winter gear, many suffering from frostbite and other aliments as a result.

Strassenzustandskarte der besetzten Ostgebiete, 1942. C40:6 (50)

From another large map comes this extract showing the road set-up around Stalingrad. This shows on the surface what the geological map hints at, the dotted red lines of so many of the roads around the Stalingrad area are graded ‘Ungeeignet, d.h. für Mot. Verkehr nicht geeignet’ (‘Unsuitable, i.e. not suitable for motor traffic’) while the lack of knowledge of the area (the map dates from August 1942, when the battle for the city started, and would partly be based on earlier Soviet maps) is shown by the continuous red-lined roads being labelled with a general description of ‘good’. There’s also this text box…

… which asks for the ‘Cooperation of all required! (Mitarbeit…)’  going on to request that any changes in road condition be reported immediately, a hint to the boggy nature of loess ground when the rains come.

And then there are the general topographic maps made by the cartographic branch of the army. Maps such as this example at various scales cover the whole of Europe, most of North Africa and the Middle East. Usually based on pre-existing national sets (the British maps are adapted versions of earlier Ordnance Survey commercial maps) these are often highly detailed and, with added text and town plans on the reverse, specialising in the area shown. Sheet D49 of ‘Mil.- Geo.- Karte Östeuropa 1:300 000′ (1942, C40 (72a)) covers Stalingrad.

The city is shown with a black box surrounding it indicating that there’s a town plan on the verso. Text on the side covers topics such as soil, structure, hydrology, climate (‘winter short, but very cold’) , transport and population. As an example of the confidence the army had in a quick victory at Stalingrad the map also lists 8 locations east of the Volga, beyond the city, to take as well.

Finally, the city itself. This is the city plan from the back of the 1:300,000 sheet, again this features text on the city (population – 445,470 as of 1939 – etc) and a list of objectives.

The city stretches out along the west bank of the Volga, making the key features an easy target for the German artillery that surrounded it and the bombing raids by the Luftwaffe. Vastly outnumbered soon Soviet troops were occupying the factory area to the north of the map (nos. 31-39) the station area (Bhf. just below no. 40) and the important low hill of Mamayev, fought over and won and lost continually throughout the battle (shown by the spot height 100. west of nu.39 and now the site of the ‘Heroes of the Battle of Stalingrad’ memorial).

As well as the large amount of single and series sheet maps produced the cartographic branch of the army (the ‘Abteilung für Kriegskarten und Vermessungswesen’) produced large numbers of information pamphlets for various countries. The earliest were made out of hard board but as more and more were produced brown paper packages were created. These included maps, books on locations and features (duplicating a lot of the information shown on some of the maps here) and photographs. Here’s the pamphlet package for the area covering Stalingrad

Miltärgeographische Angaben über des Europäische Russland, Die Wolgagebiete, 1941 C40 e1/K

And here are two images from the book of photographs, the first showing the central square and the second the tractor factory  (no. 31 on the town map extract above), sight of some of the heaviest fighting throughout the battle for the city

In contrast to these military maps is a series of maps published in an atlas by the New York Times during the war (2023 d.39). These maps show a history of the war from its origins in treaties after the First World War up to publication of this, the second revised edition in 1943. While German forces were in retreat in the East Western Europe was still firmly in control of the Axis powers and the outcome in the war was still in doubt. Typical of the sort of maps that were common in newspapers during the war here are two maps from the atlas, with an extract from the first at right, covering the Russian campaign before and after Stalingrad (a short blog about maps in newspapers can be found  here ).

Last word (and map) to the victors. On a large map covering four sheets the ‘Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union’ (1956, C40 (427)) shows the advances, retreats and battlegrounds between the German Invasion in 1941 to the end of the war in Berlin in May 1945. Around Stalingrad the thick orange and red tipped arrows can be seen that show how the Soviet advance, codenamed Operation Uranus, encircled and then cut off supplies to the Axis forces (Italian and Romanian divisions also fought at Stalingrad), eventually forcing those trapped to surrender.

The map was published in 1952 by the Glavnoe Upravlenie Geodezii i Kartografii, the official cartographic department for the Soviet Union, and known more commonly by the initials GUGK.

A blog on the changing names of the city on the Volga can be found here

 

 

Brrr

During the Little Ice Age of the sixteenth to the nineteen centuries the River Thames occasionally froze right from bank to bank. Never ones to pass up a commercial opportunity the good folk of London decamped onto the ice to sledge, skate, roast oxen, play nine pins or drink coffee.  The whole of London life was there and obviously maps and keepsakes were produced to mark the occasion. Mementos were even printed on the ice.

The maps produced at this time show quite an organised affair with rows of stalls and marked footpaths.

The first frost fair was in 1608, then 1683-84, 1715–16, 1739–40, and 1789 then the final one in 1814. The maps we hold date from the earlier fairs in the seventeenth century. This one is illustrative rather that truly accurate but encapsulate the holiday-like feel of the time.

 

 

We may never see the Thames frozen in London again so these are not only historical documents but images unlikely to be repeated.Gough Maps 21

Broxb. 95.89

‘…Wonderful things…’

A short blog to mark 100 years to the day that Howard Carter, a team of archaeologists and        local workers cleared the last of the rubble from steps in the Valley of the Kings and found an undamaged door at the bottom. After removing this outer door the door to the tomb of Tutankhamun was revealed. Two days later, November the 26th, 1922, Carter, along with Lord Carnarvon, made a small hole in this door which Carter then peered through. Asked if he could see anything by his patron Carter uttered the most famous words in archaeological history, ‘Yes, wonderful things…’

Nearly 100 years earlier the west bank of the Nile was mapped by the one of the first Egyptologists John Gardner Wilkinson. Wilkinson produced a detailed map on 6 sheets, with the relief beautifully and realistically engraved. Here’s the sheet covering the Valley of the Kings area.

Topographical Survey of Thebes…by J. G. Wilkinson, 1830. (E) E13:30 Thebes (1)

This is an extract from the map showing the Valley above the Temple of Deir el-Bahari.

With its use of shading and hachures (the short engraved lines showing direction of slope) you get a real sense of the hills and valleys. Following his death in 1875 Wilkinson’s extensive papers came to the Bodleian, an invaluable resource for the study of Egyptian antiquities before the onset of tourism and removal of objects changed their appearance for ever (The page of hieroglyphs at the sides of this blog come from one of Wilkinson’s note-books, MS. Wilkinson dep d.47). Here’s a beautifully hand-drawn sketch of the Valley of the Kings from Wilkinson’s papers.

Valley of Biban el Molook, or of the Tombs of the Kings of Thebes’. Original manuscript by John Gardner Wilkinson, c1830? MS Wilkinson dep. a.22 (fol. 70).

In this map Wilkinson identifies each tomb with letter; by the time he had drawn and published the ‘Topographical Survey…’ these letters had been replaced by the numbers that are still in use today, as can be seen in this extract from the map. Tutankhamun’s tomb would be found by Carter close to tomb 9, the shared tomb of Rameses V and VI.

 

Karte der Westlichen und Umgebung von Luķsor und Karnak [Theben] 1909. E13:22 (1)

This 1909 German map of Luxor and the surrounding area shows how different the relief is on the west bank of the Nile compared to the east. It’s a land of contrasts, of flat fertile land close to the river and desert and mountain further out, of a land of life and of death. The hilly area centring on the Valley of the Kings (Königsgräber on the map, and extract at right) is rich in tombs of royals, nobles and workers. It’s also a map full of the wonders of ancient Egypt. On the east bank the temple at Karnak, the greatest of all surviving Egyptian temple complexes and on the west bank famous archaeological sites, including the temples of the Ramesseum, Medinet Habu and Deir el-Bahari as well as the Valley of the Kings and Queens.

Here’s another of the sheets from Wilkinson’s map of Thebes with the Luxor and Karnak temples.

The library holds a set of maps showing the area around the tombs, ‘The Theban Necropolis’, published by the Survey of Egypt in in 1924. Frustratingly it doesn’t include the sheet covering the Royal Tombs though one sheet, C-7, does include Howard Carter’s house.

The Theban Necropolis, 1924. E13:30 Thebes (3) sheet C-7

Want to know more about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb? There’s a marvellous exhibition on at the Bodleian until February next year, details here Tutankhamun: Excavating the Archive | Visit the Bodleian Libraries (ox.ac.uk)

 

Maps to justify your existence

Few countries suffered as much as Poland during the Second World War. Historically a country that had undergone numerous border changes, losses of territory (3 forced partitions in 23 years in the late 1700s!)  and caught between two countries with strong ideologues of such differences that an alliance between them would seem absurd if it wasn’t for the conniving geopolitical machinations of German and Russian foreign policies. When German forces invaded on the 1st September 1939, kick-starting the Second World War, Polish forces made a valiant effort to defend their country only for Soviet forces to invade from the east two weeks later. For the Poles there was to be five years of brutal occupation. Here’s a map showing German occupation of Central and Eastern Europe in 1942.  Poland has been swallowed up by the Greater German Reich and the front-line is in Soviet territory with further advances to come before the horrors of Stalingrad and the turning of the war.

Grossdeutsches Reich und angrenzende gebiete, 1942. C1:5 (595)

The reason for this in a map blog? We’ve just started working on some material that’s been at the library for a while, the majority of which are maps of Poland which look at some point to have been removed from an atlas. There’s very little information on the majority of the maps, but some have been published by the Polish Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Shipping, based in London and part of the Polish Government in Exile while others come from the Światowy Związek Polaków z Zagranicy (World Union of Poles from Abroad), an organization set up in the mid 1930s to ensure Poles abroad still felt part of and could help and support the Polish Government. As quite a few of the maps are similar it’s fair to assume that the majority come from these sources. So far so good but the range of themes of the maps is surprising.

As well as maps of contemporary borders and population there are maps covering such diverse subjects as air routes between the wars by Polish Airways, maps on historical borders and territory, maps on the German occupation and maps giving information on industry, agriculture and architecture.

Why the range? It’s hard to be sure but the answer may lie in the fight that the Polish Government had to be recognized in the face of Soviet opposition and British and American Governments willing to give into Stalin’s demands as the cost of keeping the Soviets fighting the Germans before a Second Front could be opened in Western Europe. By creating maps showing changing borders the Government in Exile were hoping to show a legitimate reason for being the rightful possessors of not only a country based on pre-war boundaries but also the legitimate Government to run the country after the defeat of Germany. Take these maps, showing numerous Polish boundaries between 1001 and 1939, thus establishing a long history of a Poland being centred around the immediate pre-war state.

[Polish boundaries and territory changes, 1001 – 1939], 1945? C31 (561)

Polish frontiers in the course of history, C1:4 (204) 1940?

In an unusually colourful example the second map  portrays a Poland that throughout history has grown and been a dominant part of East Europe. Turning the map over reveals it’s actually part of a postcard including defiant text on the role of Poland in Europe, ‘the first country to oppose Hitler’s “New Europe” and goes on to highlight Poland’s perilous situation at the start of the war, ‘the geographical position was, and is, incomparably difficult and dangerous…the map shows how unjust were the Polish frontiers after the last war. This fault is the reason for Poland’s position today. Only a powerful Poland can secure European equilibrium. Our deepest faith will ever be Poland must rise again!’ A postcard is an ideal medium to spread the message included, both in the map and text, a pre-digital age version of a tweet.

Here’s another example, one that combines the current situation in Poland and German aggression with a sense of historical Poland. This map is published by the Min. Informacja i Dokumentacja w Londynie. 

Map of Eastern Poland, Baltic countries and the western part of U.S.S.R. showing German occupation and historic boundaries of Poland, 1943. C1:4 (201)

By creating maps showing such diverse themes shown in this blog the Government were promoting Polish culture, industry and tradition, and leading on from this a Polish identity, putting forward a strong argument for the continuing existence of Poland against Soviet aggression.

Polish airways in 1935, c1945. C1 (1128)

[Poland imposed over British Isles], C31 (562) 1943

To finish, a map that imposes over a map of the British Isles the outline of Poland according to 1938 boundaries.  We have a few maps in the collection here at the Bodleian that does this (an earlier blog featured one of New Zealand). By imposing a country over another like this the cartographer hopes to draw comparisons between the two, in size and in, it’s imagined, a sense of both being long-established nations with traditions and histories, of a country that deserves to be treated equally.

On the last day of September

This panorama of the Manchester Ship Canal was created to mark its opening by Queen Victoria in 1894; the culmination of more than 12 years of campaigning and construction work. This section at the bottom of the map shows the docks and the canal itself which runs almost into the heart of the city of Manchester.

For much of its length the canal is a straight, wide channel; this section from the middle of the panorama shows it cutting out the loops of the River Mersey between Manchester and Runcorn. Beyond this point the canal runs alongside the river, before joining it on the estuary past Liverpool to the sea. The title makes clear that this was a local production, designed, lithographed (printed) and published by J. Galloway & Son of Manchester. Undoubtedly the finished canal, allowing direct access to the city for large cargo ships, was a source of civic pride.

The plan to create a shipping canal linking Manchester to the sea had first been proposed in the early 1880s, in an attempt to reduce costs for traders in Manchester.  This simpler, uncoloured panorama was published in 1883 as part of the campaign, surrounded by quotes from local dignitaries (such as the MPs Jacob Bright and William Agnew, and the Mayor of Salford) and from supportive newspapers.  It argues that “the general industries in this region have to bear excessive taxation in carriage of their merchandise to and from the sea,” referring to the charges imposed by the port of Liverpool and cost of railway transport. It was allegedly cheaper to transport cotton from Liverpool to Glasgow than from Liverpool to Manchester, for example. The proposed route is represented clearly but the campaigners have cunningly foreshortened the straightest part of the canal, perhaps to make it look shorter and easier to achieve. However, as one of the notes on the map points out, the much larger Suez Canal had recently been constructed, to great admiration. So the Manchester Ship Canal was a viable proposition.The plan above was made in the late 1880s, probably once the canal was under construction. The section here shows the relative shallows of the Mersey estuary bypassed by the canal. It is surrounded by advertisements for huge a variety of products, including toothpaste and medicines, and domestic items such as sewing machines and locks; a detailed inset plan of the Manchester and Salford Docks promotes both furniture and ale.

What of the connection with September? The well known nursery rhyme and singing game, “The big ship sails on the Alley Alley-Oh” is popularly believed to refer to the Manchester Ship Canal. The song refers to a ship setting out “on the last day of September,” which comes to grief and sinks “to the bottom of the sea”. Various interpretations of the song have been suggested: one is that a ship that was contracted to set out in September might be under financial pressure to do so even the weather was unfavourable or the ship not seaworthy; it may also have been a reference to the last date a ship could expect to set out and reach Canada before the St Lawrence River began to be blocked by ice. Whatever the explanation, the unhappy ending of the ship does not seem to have deterred generations of children from singing the song.

Panoramic map of the Manchester Ship Canal / designed, lithographed and published by J. Galloway and Son, Manchester, 1894. C17:3 (14)

Bird’s eye view of the Manchester Ship Canal, 1883. C17:3 (49)

Manchester ship canal – general plan of canal and district. Revised. [1889?]  C17:3 (13)

…and in less than a quarter of an hour went all to pieces…

Before the introduction of the first Admiralty Chart by the Hydrographic Office of the Navy British- produced nautical charts were published by independent map-makers. In the case of the map featured in this blog Laurie and Whittle. Robert Laurie and James Whittle took over the map making business of Robert Sayer in 1794, and this map, drawn in 1786 but published in 1794, must have been one of the first the duo made. The company still exists today, producing maps and charts under the name ImrayLaurie, Norie and Wilson. Laurie was a skilled artist and engraver and presumably was responsible for the fine cartography and views on display on…

A new chart of the Southern Coast of Africa, from The Cape of Good Hope to Dalagoa Bay; including The Bank of Cape Agulhas, its soundings, currents within and without & c. is a remarkable chart for a number of reasons.

The skills involved in the creation of the map are evident, from the engraving to the information on depths and sea-floor sediments in the Bank of Cape Agulhas to the artistic representation of the view of the Cape of Good Hope.

The map plots the course around the Cape, an important but dangerous part of the journey to and from the Indies for European shipping. To aid in this journey the area to the south of the Cape, the Bank of Cape Agulhas, is prominently featured, showing both the extent of the bank to stop ships running aground and the depths and constitution of the sea floor. Sea depths, called soundings, would have been recorded by lowering rope with a lead weight attached, which may have a waxy substance added to the bottom which would pick up sediment. Judging by the amount of information shown this was considered an important place to survey and was presumably a tricky place to sail over. That the Bank was navigable can be seen by the course that the Worcester took on the outward bound journey from Britain to India in 1786. The Worcester was an East Indiaman (which is a general term for a ship of any European nation with trade links with India) which made a number of journeys to the Indies between 1786 and 1809, journeys which would usually take two years to complete. It may seem strange to focus on the journey of one individual ship, the intention being presumably to show the route taken as an example for those using the chart to plot their own progress round the Cape, as the Worcester has plotted a course to battle against as little head-current as possible. The map also shows the best line for taking advantage of the currents going round the Cape from a westerly direction, giving information on how fast the currents travel as well as the best course to take to make the most of the currents (‘the best track of the ships to avail themselves of the current’). Currents are also shown on the Bank, hence the …currents within and without … part of the title. Two large insets show safe harbours, both detailing rocks, good  anchorage and depths.

In this extract of the Bank of Cape Aguihas the routes of both the Worcester (the straight dotted line in the centre of the image that then goes off at an angle to the bottom right) on the outbound journey while the route to take best advantage of the currents for those heading home follows the line of the three ships. The make-up of the sea floor is clearly shown. The importance in plotting currents, especially in the age of sail, can be seen in the amount of times they feature on maps, both nautical and general. This map, again published by Laurie and Whittle in 1794 shows currents in the Indian Ocean, highlighting the importance of this part of the World for European trade. Unlike the main map in this blog, which would have been made from existing plates in Sayer’s collection this is a copy of a French map from 1776.

A chart of the currents in the Indian Sea during the southwest monsoon, to the northward of the line, 1794. (E) L1 (143)

The map below is an extract from Africa divided into its several regions (1792), by the person that Laurie and Whittle first worked for, Robert Sayer. The pair bought all existing stock and plates and took over his premises when Sayer died in 1794. At the southern tip of the continent is a less detailed portrayal of the Bank.

Ironically, for something that deals with the safe passage at sea, the most dramatic part of the map deals with a shipwreck. ‘On Thursday the 17th July 1755, about a quarter before one in the morning, the Doddington, outward bound East indiaman, struck on a rock about 3 leagues from the Main of Africa, and in 33d. 44m. south latitude. They had doubled the Cape…the time they were lost they saw the breakers, and in less than a quarter of an hour went all to pieces : out of 270 people only 23 were saved. They remained on this rock (which they named Bird Island) six months, and built a ship out of the wreck, the Chief Mate and 16 people all that were left alive, went to Madagascar in her…’. Bird Island is still named thus, and there is a Doddington Rock nearby, on the inset at right Bird Island is just to the east of Algoa Bay. Like the Worcester the Doddington was part of the fleet of the East India Company. Formed in 1600 to look after British trade the EIC eventually colonised large parts of India and Southeast Asia and pretty much ran India for the British Government following the Battle of Plassey in 1757 until corruption  and mutiny forced the Crown to take  control in 1858.

This fold-out map comes from a book (A journal of the proceedings of the Doddington, East-Indiaman, from her sailing from the Downs till she was unfortunately wrecked on some rocks on the East Coast of Africa*)  written by one of the survivors, Mr. Webb, one of the ship’s mates.

The book describes how the ship set sail on April the 23rd, 1755, taking seven weeks to get to the Cape. Then disaster strikes early on Thursday, July 17th, as the ship is wrecked on Bird Island. Despite breaking an arm and being being told by the Captain that ‘we should all perish’ Webb managed to get to Bird Island and eventually take part in the journey on a boat made from the wrecked remains 6 months later to Madagascar.  On this extract from the map Bird Island is the central rock A while the rock marked F is believed by Webb to be the one the ship first hit before being driven by the high seas onto Bird.

At some point before coming to the  Bodleian the map has been repaired with sellotape, so this will have a trip to conservation to restore it back to its former glory.

If you have enjoyed reading about nautical charts then more can be found here  , a blog telling the story of a chart made for Samuel Pepys, while a blog about a map made by fellow diarist John Evelyn for Pepys can be found here , and a blog about beautifully engraved French charts can be found here

*203 g.233. c.1756

A new chart of the Southern Coast of Africa, from The Cape of Good Hope to Dalagoa Bay; including The Bank of Cape Agulhas, its soundings, currents within and without & c. 1794 620.11 t 2 (2)

 

Same but different

Location names get repeated throughout the World. Old and New York, Egyptian and Elvis Memphis, the list goes on and on. No one pair or group can have such a distance between them, and such a difference in what they are, as the Milky Way.

Der Südliche Sternenhimmel, c1899. A1 (42)

The Milky Way is one part of the Spiral Galaxy that includes our Solar System. Stars in their billions, so numerous that they appear as a river of milky light in the night sky. It is thought that there are as many planets as stars amongst the light. As with everything in the Universe size and distance defies belief, the width of the Milky way visible from Earth is 1000 light years across (light travels at 186,282 miles per second, 299,792 km, so in one year light travels 5.88 trillion miles, 9.46 trillion km. A trillion is one million million).

Here’s the Milky Way in two maps. First is a German map of the Southern Hemisphere from circa 1899 by the prolific Justus Perthes publishing house in Gotha. And then a later English map of the Northern Hemisphere from George Philip and Son in 1959. This is one part of a larger map which includes an equivalent  map of the Southern Hemisphere, a larger map of the Middle Heavens and lists and charts of stars and clusters. It’s easier to see from the Philip map how the Milky Way got its name.

Philips’ Chart of the Stars, A1 (10), 1959

The Milky Way is also a narrow bit of water between Noir and Kempe Islands at the western side of the Tierra del Fuego. It gets its name for the same reason, a milky appearance from a frothy stretch of white water. A book published in 1847, the North and South Atlantic Memoir, describes it as ‘a space of sea, in every part of which rocks are seen just awash with, or a few feet above, the water; on them the sea continually breaks’. The gentle name belies a dangerous passage between the islands with rocks clearly seen on the chart, a danger to any passing ship.

This extract comes from an Admiralty Chart of the Magellan Strait from 1887. The names on the chart give an indication of the hard landscape and dangerous sailing which abound. ‘Useless Bay’, ‘Desolate Bay’, ‘Famine Reach’, and the high number of narrow channels, many of which lead to a dead-end, show how hard it must have been for early explorers to navigate as opposed to sailing round Cape Horn. No wonder Magellan took so long to find a passage through.

Magellan Strait (formerly Magalhaen) sht 554, 1887

This chart shows the skills involved of the surveyors who measured, took soundings, kept records as well as lived onboard ship in such a harsh environment and the cartographers who then transferred this jumble of information on to a map. One of these surveyors was Commander Robert Fitzroy, of His Majesties Ship Beagle. This was Fitzroy’s first journey through Tierra del Fuego, his second, and more famous, was with Charles Darwin aboard as a companion and scientific officer. It was on this voyage that Darwin, after making numerous studies on the natural history of the lands explored on the voyage formed his theory of natural selection. In his book ‘The Voyage of the Beagle’ Darwin wrote ‘We passed out between the East and West Furries: and a little further northward there are so many breakers that the sea is called the Milky Way. One sight of such a coast is enough to make a landsman dream for a week about shipwrecks, peril and death…’. Fitzroy went on to become an expert on meteorology, forming what would become the Met office in 1854 and created ways to predict weather patterns, something which he gave a new name to, forecasts. A fervent Christian Fitzroy was horrified by the publication of Darwin’s ‘Origin of the Species’, the effect it would have religious beliefs and his role in helping Darwin form his theories by taking him on the Beagle voyage. Depression ran in his family, and Darwin’s fame together with financial difficulties and trouble with the Met Office led to Fitzroy taking his own life in April 1865.

Darwin’s importance can be seen in this  extract from the chart, with Darwin Sound and Beagle Channel appearing on a map just under 30 years after Darwin published his ground-breaking work.

 

 

Te pito o te henua

5. [April, 1722]. Saw a turtle, floating weed, and birds. About the 10th glass in the afternoon watch the African Galley, which was sailing ahead of us, lay to wait for us, making the signal of land in sight…a low flatish island lying away to starboard, about 5 1/2 miles off…and to the land the name of Paásch Eyland, because it was discovered by us on Easter Day.

This extract from the log of Mynheer Jacob Roggeveen dated the 5th of April 1722 describes the first sighting by Europeans of one of the most intriguing as well as isolated lands in the World, Easter Island, Rapa Nui, the Navel of the World (Te pito o te henua). The nearest inhabited land, Pitcairn Island is over a thousand miles away, mainland South America over two thousand. Easter Island is very remote, making the journey there by the original Polynesian explorers  all the more remarkable (there is some doubt as to when this was, with some believing it to be as early as 800, others as late as 1200, roughly the same time that New Zealand was first populated).

This copy of an admiralty chart from the Hydrographic Office of the British Navy dates from 1868, and gives no indication of the mysterious stone monuments found on the island, unlike this earlier map which comes from the voyages of Captain Don Felipe Gonzalez, in the ships San Lorenzo and Santa Rosalia. Gonzalez named the island San Carlos, and drew both the map after taking soundings and also the perspective, including some of the statutes, the Maoi,  the ‘ídolos uamados moay’. The letters off-shore on the smaller plan relate to the make-up of the sea bed.

These maps come from a remarkable collection of reproductions of original books on early exploration and travel published by the Hakluyt Society. Formed in 1846 and originally intended to be called the Columbus Society at the first meeting it was decided that Sir Richard Hakluyt (1552-1616), a writer and collector of travellers tales, better reflected the goals of the Society. The first chairman was the famous geologist Sir Roderick Murchison. This image shows Roggeveen measuring one the Maoi, one of the 887 listed either on the island or in museums throughout the World.

The Voyage of Captian Don Felipe Gonzalez to Easter Island, 1770-1; preceded by an extract from the official log of Jacob Roggeveen in 1772′ 1903. G31 B1.1 / NS 13.

 

 

 

Dedicated with great disrespect and contempt…

In a collection that has it’s fair share of strange maps (‘Naughty Norman’s London sex map’ anyone?) this has to be one of the strangest.

A new & exact map of Toryland, with the dangerous rocks & shoals of all the Jacobite Islands lying in the same parralell with the Red Sea, whose lattitude is 1588 & longitude 1714. Dedicated with great disrespect & contempt to the Knight of ye Warming Pan & King of No-Land ye Pretender & all his Brainless adherents’. 

Where to start? The Knight of the Warming Pan was James Francis Edward Stuart, the Old Prentender, the son of the last Catholic King of England, James II. His mother, Mary of Modena was considered past child-bearing age (a stately 29 at the time of the birth) so it was suspected that a baby had been smuggled into the bedchamber in a warming pan, in an attempt to keep a Catholic succession in place. 1588 is the date of the Spanish Armada while in 1714 George Louis, a Lutheran Prince from Hannover in Germany who was the closest relative to the recently deceased Queen Anne became George I. The fact that the crown was now in the hands of a foreign national who didn’t speak English didn’t go down well with James, who would have been King if his father hadn’t been deposed during the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688, restoring Protestant rule with William III, William of Orange as was.

The Jacobite Rebellions were attempts in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries to restore the House of Stuart to the throne. This map is a cartoon satire against that, the ‘dangerous rocks and shoals’ that surround Toryland are symbolical of the dangers that sailors face when navigating around dangerous shores while Toryland itself is full of warnings about what a Catholic monarchy would mean; ‘Restoration of Abby land’ (as in a return to the Abbeys and Monastery’s in place, and all the supposed corruption and indulgencies associated with them from before the Reformation), the Bishoprick of Rome, arbitrary government and absolute monarchy amongst others. The islands and shoals surrounding are also full of danger; No parliaments, loss of trade and no juries featuring here amongst others, as well as the island of ‘D-m me I’m in high church, & ye Presbyterians are Sons of Whores’.

Nearly off the map is Whig Island, a land of Protestant and English  tradition. Here we find safety in ‘Magna Charta’ land, ‘Parliamentary Right’ and ‘Hannover Succession Rock’.

Like all maps trying to make a serious point this works because it looks like, and uses, standard mapping practise. The compass rose is an example. Traditionally used to show the compass directions in this case the compass points to people prominent in the Jacobite movement.

The compass also has a dual meaning. In mapping terms it shows direction, shows the right and wrong way to go, and this can be compared to a moral compass, which has the same purpose, to show the right and wrong way to live your life. Other stock mapping traditions can be seen in the way that rocks and dangers are portrayed, the use of crosses is both common on nautical charts of the day to show rocks but also has religious overtones while the language in the title is similar to that of other maps, ‘Great disrespect and contempt’ mirroring the dedications on many maps to rich and influential people (see here for example)

There are a number of variations of maps making a point by pretending to be a serious cartographic work, a blog about a religious example can be found here, while political versions can be found here. These ‘imaginary maps’ have a long cartographic tradition, and can be seen to have their origins in the maps painted on the walls of Egyptian Tombs to show the departed souls the way to the underworld and continue with Thomas More’s map of Utopia through to the cartoon maps linked above to famous recent examples such as the classic Guardian April Fools from 1977 April fool – San Serriffe: teaching resource of the month from the GNM Archive, April 2012 | The Guardian Foundation | The Guardian

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Cycling Then and Now

The recent changes to the Highway Code set us thinking about the origin of cycling maps and their development. We have maps going back to 1887 but cycling routes were described purely by text earlier than that with this Walks in Epping Forest. A handbook to the forest paths with cycling and driving routes dating from 1885.

They still hadn’t really got into their stride twenty years later with this account of a route from Witney to Charlbury indicating the amount of puff require by the use of manicules.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interestingly, early advertisements for cycle hire and repair used the language associated with horses; ”warehoused and cleaned” could easily have been “stabled and groomed”. The maps being sold for cycling just showed main roads – which with the absence of many cars were sufficient.

This is map by Mason & Payne shows routes suitable for cycling in 1888 but today they are mainly major A roads with many being dual carriage ways, not really conducive for a pleasant ride through the country.

 

Many did not show relief, rather crucial for a cyclist, but this Bacon’s Cycling Map does show generalised relief in the form of hachures but also railway stations to facilitate cycle touring.

Cycling as a hobby has increased especially in recent years but modern maps and apps are very different from those early examples.  Cycle information is generally overlaid on to a topographic background usually in layers showing you what to expect every metre of the way.

The same route is shown thus

 

Unlike Bacon’s map, it is quiet roads and cycle tracks that are highlighted and sought out to make any expedition safer and more enjoyable. All sorts of analysis and interactive data is also available at the swipe of a finger and there is a sharing element promoting online competition rather than just the satisfaction of making it to the pub at the end first.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What probably hasn’t changed is the search for relief from any cycling-induced injuries or soreness as this early advertisement shows.

Walks in Epping Forest (1885) Johnson g.417

The Roads Round Oxford (1896) Vet. A7 e.505

Bacon’s Cycling Road Map of England and Wales. Sheet 5 (1887) – C17 (73)

Mason and Payne’s Cycling Map of the British Isles … (1888) – C15 (180)

OS route courtesy of Stuart Ackland

Strava route courtesy of Nick Millea

Witney to Banbury courtesy of cycle.travel.co.uk