The contouring technique used by Robert Dawson on this map precedes the introduction of obligatory contouring on Ordnance Survey maps in 1839-40. Short watercolour lines ('hachures'), drawn with a brush, follow the direction of slope and are paced to indicate the steepness of relief. Colour washes are steadily built up, giving realism to the depiction of hills, mountains and, in particular, the thickly wooded valleys descending from the moors and downs towards the sea. Tin and copper mining is evident around Redruth and Camborne. A triangulation diagram is inscribed on the reverse of the manuscript but is now obscured by backing material.
A coloured chart of Falmouth Haven and the river Fal up to Truro; drawn 1590-1600
This sixteenth century drawing shows the layout of Falmouth harbour in Cornwall. It must have been drawn after the completion of Pendennis and St Mawes Castles in the 1540’s as these are depicted, although in a fanciful manner bearing little resemblance to the real structures. These castles were part of a defensive chain built by Henry VIII after a peace treaty was signed by Francis I of France and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain in 1538, making invasion of England probable. England and France were ancient enemies and the catholic Charles V, nephew of Catherine of Aragon, was angered by Henry VIII’s decision to divorce her. Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries provided him with enormous wealth with which he was able to commission surveys of the vulnerable coastline and build defence fortifications.
This drawing was probably executed to provide a record of this vulnerable area of the coast for defensive purposes. It is possible that this drawing may date from 1598 – 1599 when the military engineer Paul Ivey was responsible for strengthening St Mawes and Pendennis following the 1597 scare that the Spanish might direct an armada towards Falmouth Haven.
Pictorial depiction’s of castles, ships and sea monsters feature on this map which verges on the fanciful in its details, the naval battle in the top left is simply an embellishment.
In the bottom left hand corner is a clover leaf pattern that is in fact an accurate ground plan of St Mawes Castle. A later annotator may have drawn this in an attempt to correct the picturesque inaccuracy of its depiction in this drawing.
St. Columb Major, Cornwall
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.This drawing is orientated toward the south-east. On its reverse, obscured by backing material, is a triangulation diagram used to plot locations accurately. Tin and copper mines are marked, and a key to the symbols used to distinguish them is given at the bottom of the drawing. ."Harmony Cot" is marked as the birthplace of the portrait painter, John Opie (1761-1807). The inclusion of such information seems at odds with the Survey's military emphasis, but it does reflect the interests and training of the draughtsmen, many of whom were professional artists. To the north of St Columb Major lies the ancient monument known as the Nine Maidens, symbolised by a drawing of stones. A dot, annotated "point", appears in the bottom left hand corner of the map. This is probably the coastal station at Trevose Head, a base for the measurement of angles of elevation.
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Military batteries are marked along the coastline in this drawing. The profusion of defensive castles in this area is testimony to the perceived vulnerability of coastal regions. Red blocks indicate individual structures within the complex of Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII after his divorce from Catherine of Aragon aroused the hostility of Catholic France and Spain. The nearby castle of St Mawes acted as a seaward deterrent, protecting the anchorage of Falmouth. Half Moon Battery is indicated, as are signal seats along the extreme edge of the coast.
This drawing is attributed to Robert Dawson (1771-1860), a first-class Royal Military Draughtsman and Surveyor. He was also an influential teacher at the Tower of London Drawing Room, where he had been employed since the age of eighteen. The map is oriented unconventionally, with north to the left rather than at the top. Consequently, Lizard Head, the southernmost point of Great Britain, lies to the right of the plan. The boundaries of the area surveyed are coastal from Porthleven to Falmouth Bay, but at Lower Trenoweth they leave the coastline and follow the roads inland. The word 'flag' is written in several places (the tip of the Lizard, for example) to mark points between which Dawson took angular measurements to pinpoint topographical features. Similarly Signal Staff points are noted around the coast at Black Head and below Mullion Island. Helston was a tin-mining town. Copper and tin mines in the area are indicated by symbols.
South west coast of England from Exeter to Land's End, 1539-40
This is a map of the south-west coast of England, from Exeter to Land’s End. It dates from 1539-40 and its creation can be imputed to the threat of invasion which became probable in 1538 after a peace treaty was signed by Francis I of France and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain. England and France were ancient enemies and the Catholic Charles V, nephew of Catherine of Aragon, was angered by Henry VIII’s decision to divorce her. Henry’s dissolution of the monasteries provided him with enormous wealth with which he was able to commission surveys of the vulnerable coastline and build defence fortifications. This map is the result of the order sent out by Thomas Cromwell in 1539 for the coasts to be surveyed by local people. These surveys, which were often just sketches or even text, were sent to London and in Greenwich they were edited, compiled and copied out for presentation to the King, who displayed them in Whitehall. The style of the map is pictorial with details such as ships, town views and fortifications shown in accurate detail. However, it contains vital practical information such as the state of defences and the distance between points along the coast and measurements at sea. Measurements at sea appear to be the estimated distance at which the navigator could discern features of the coastline. These are given in Dutch kennings probably due to the fact that the draftsmen in Greenwich included Flemish artists. The purpose of the map was to indicates, as if from the viewpoint of an invader, where landings could be made. Therefore, the cliffs, where landings would have been impossible are foreshortened, while the sandy beaches, where landings would have been easy are exaggerated in size. The sites for possible forts were then added to the map. The annotations on this map were made in about 1541 and record the state of fortifications, annotating made’ or not made’ over several fortification and half made’ over St Mawes Castle. Although this map contains measurements for use by sailors it is very unlikely that it would ever have been used at sea as it is almost 10 feet long and thus highly impractical for use within the confined space onboard ship.