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This drawings depicts the winding course of the River Usk as it flows by the Roman town of Caerleon into the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel. Not far from the river mouth lies Newport. The Usk is not navigable except at this point, but the Monmouthshire and Brecon and Abergavenny canals, in part following the valley, carry a small trade up to Brecon. Cardiff, depicted at bottom left, was a town of only 6,000 inhabitants when this plan was produced.
This is a map of Monmothshire by Christopher Saxton dating from 1577. It forms part of an atlas that belonged to William Cecil Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State. Burghley used this atlas to illustrate domestic matters. This map is actually a proof copy of one which forms part of Christopher Saxton’s Atlas of England and Wales. This atlas was first published as a whole in 1579. It consists of 35 coloured maps depicting the counties of England and Wales. The atlas is of great significance to British cartography as it set a standard of cartographic representation in Britain and the maps remained the basis for English county mapping, with few exceptions, until after 1750. During the reign of Elizabeth I, map use became more common, with many government matters referring to increasingly accurate maps, with consistent scales and symbols, made possible by advances in surveying techniques. Illustrating the increasing use of maps in government matters, Lord Burghley, who had been determined to have England and Wales mapped in detail from the 1550s, selected the cartographer Christopher Saxton to produce a detailed and consistent survey of the country. The financier of the project was Thomas Seckford, Master of Requests at the Court of Elizabeth I, whose arms appear, along with the royal crest, on each map. Burghley has annotated this map, adding several place names. The name of the engraver of this map is not included but it would have been one of a team of seven English and Flemish engravers employed to produce the copper plates for the atlas.
William Cecil, Lord Burghley
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The Avon barracks and battery are documented at the mouth of the River Severn, at the top of the map, protecting the Bristol Channel. Gravemounds ('Tumuli'), hill forts, ancient camps and antiquities are distinguished by the use of gothic lettering. The recording of archaeological details became obligatory in 1816. Quarries, kilns, mills, brickyards and pits dominate this industrial region of the West Midlands. According to a note in the Ordnance Survey Day Books, held in the National Archives, a one inch-to-the-mile reduction of this plan was delivered to Captain Gossett for engraving in the Drawing Office at the Tower of London in March 1830.
This drawing highlights Bath and the River Avon. Major communication routes are coloured yellow/buff, according to military cartographic convention. Shading and 'hachuring' denote relief and give an overall impression of the undulating landscape. The Somerset Coal Canal is clearly visible leading into Bath. It was established by Act of Parliament in 1794 and welcomed by the mine owners of north Somerset as a cheaper way of transporting coal to Bath and the surrounding areas, curbing fears of an influx of Welsh coal. The canal was one of the most successful in the country, carrying over 100,000 tons of coal per year. That success was to be checked, however, by the expansion of the local rail network, in particular, the opening of the line between Radstock and Frome, which hastened the canal's closure in 1898. At the time of this survey, the canal was fully operational.
This drawing covers the Mendip Hills, from Wrington to Wells. Pencil rays extend from the left of the map towards Red Hill, on the right, and Mark and Tillham, on the bottom right. The draughtsman used these lines to measure relative distance and to plot locations by triangulation. Masberry Castle is shown in the bottom right, on top of a hill whose steepness is indicated by soft brushwork interlining ('hachuring'). The castle path joins the main turnpike road, whose length is annotated at intervals of one mile. Many field boundaries are marked in red, denoting stone walls rather than corrections in this case.