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In 1914, Frederick Seebohn published his book, “Customary Acres and their Historical Importance”, which looked at Britain, Ireland, France, Northern and Eastern Europe before venturing to Egypt, Magna Graecia and Spain. Its importance is that it identified the earliest measures generally in constant use and hence the size of “acres” and lengths of “furrows” which pertain to the surveying carried out and thus the maps being studied.

The “Mile” has been a variable measure until standardized by Decree, but customary miles were still very much in use throughout Britannia and thus are found pervading these maps. Some of which have three scale lengths, Small: Midle (sic); and Great (Large) even as late as 1700AD.

Then we meet “Computed Miles”, “Measured Miles” and “Customary Miles” in these Cosmographical Treatises which require examination and comparison to arrive at their actuality.


Commencing with Christopher Saxton and his Atlas of the Counties of England”, 1579, we know he used some of John Rudd’s earlier work to begin the survey in 1574. My previous text, Cs1, “The Saxton Map, 1574; an investigation” details his career and work with an analysis of the distance measures utilized. They are described later in this text.
In my text CgEM/0, “English Maps, c1300-1760AD”, there are a series of short essays of explanation, as follows; Angliae Figura, c1540: George Lily, 1564; Humphrey Lluyd, 1579; Christopher Saxton, 1579; John Speed, 1552-1629; John Ogilby, 1675; George Rollos, 1670; Thomas Badeslade and W H Toms, 1741 and 1742.

The text closed with CgEM/JO/1; “John Ogilby and his Geographical Twist”, which dissected the “A New Map of the Kingdom of England and the Dominion of Wales” which is shown as having a 5 degree twist in its layout.

Thus it is possible to compare the output and accuracy of the surveying and mapping in the 16th and 17th centuries.


In his book there are many illustrations but two are of great help in determining the “Customary” miles in use for England and Wales. The first he notes as “In this map I have tried to show the length in meters of the “OLD BRITISH MILE” as calculated from the “VULGURLY COMPUTED” and “MEASURED” distances in Statute Miles in “OGILBY’S” Itinerary or Road Book. The Gallic Leuga of 1500 Roman Paces was 2200 meters. The English Statute Mile is 1609 meters. ( In other words the Gallic Leuga is 1.5 Roman Miles)”.

Thus using the figures he has produced it is possible for the counties to be discussed in the North, Midlands and South as the diagram illustrates and are tabulated as each map is discussed. The counties chosen to illustrate the cosmographers art are, Northumberland, Cumberland, Durham, Lincolnshire. Warwickshire, Shropshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire,, Cornwall, Dorset and Kent.

The second map has the “Furrow” length in metres and again is very useful as the “Furrow” was in fact the derivation of the Furlong and thus the Mile. It was as standard, 660 feet which equals 210.168 metres with the metre being 39.37008 inches. But the landscape does affect the furrow length, hence in Wales we find shorter measures whilst in the lusher parts of England much longer measures.

Within “Customary Acres”, pages 79-93 is a complete resume of “Medieval Mile “ measures, under the heading, “The Old British Mile”. It deals with the work of Harrison and Ogilby and their use of three measures, 1) as the crow flies; 2) by vulgar computation;, 3) measured in Statute Miles.


Hence when we come to the maps of John Speed and Robert Morden which are evaluated here-in, we can but use their scale bars.


His text, “The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine”, published in 1611,1616 and 1623 is a collection of 56 County maps of England and Wales as well as 4 for Ireland; a map of the various islands, and singular maps for the Isle of Man and the Isle of Wight.

The first four maps are of Britannia in its phases and divisions and are the only maps to contain the latitude and longitudinal scales. A complete set of maps are available at the Cambridge University Library web site, being coloured “proofs” for the 1611 text maps. These maps were engraved by “Joducus Hondius” the Flemish engraver and printed in England as is clearly acknowledged in the SW cartouche.

But John Speed also acknowledged that he had “Copied, adapted and compiled the work of others”, which indicates he did not make a new survey of Britannia.

I have already indicated the Counties for this study with a north/south spread but as stated, because of the fact that the county maps do not contain Latitude or Longitude scales I have resorted to firstly looking at his “Map of Britain”, drawn by Robert Morden to gauge the John Speed positional spread, but, also decided it is first necessary to look at the County maps of Robert Morden where-on he has those scales as well as the three measurement scales already referred to.


Robert Morden c1650-1703 was an English antiquarian and probably the first successful commercial map maker. In 1695 when William Camden’s Britannia was published it contained a full set of County Maps engraved by Robert Morden. The book was republished in 1722 and it is from that publication the maps here-in used are taken.

Robert Morden is also known for his treatise, “An introduction to Astronomy, Mathematics, Geography, Trigonometrical Problems and Spherical Triangles “ published in 1702. Within the pages 91 to 94, Trig. Problems, he makes the very accurate comment after detailing the angles in a spherical triangle (P94) at 51° 30′ latitude that, “These angles do vary in every latitude and are not always the same”. Hence he acknowledges the difference in latitudinal degrees as measured from the Equator to the Pole.

The maps in William Camden’s, Britannia are set down alphabetically and thus to illustrate the North, Midlands and South they have been selected by Geography.



I have identified 20 places in Cornwall giving a complete NSEW spread from which it is possible to gauge the scale and methodology Robert Morden is using to set down this map. The first and obvious point is that the orientation of Cornwall has been adjusted to enable its form to be accommodated on the double page spread. Using his longitude markers it is also obvious he is one degree west of a setting out either from the Cornhill Standard, London Bridge or even the Queen Eleanor’s Cross at Charing Cross. Greenwich had not yet been agreed as the World Longitudinal Marker. However, using the places there-on named and positioned, the geographical co-ordinates can be applied. From the scale bars, the degree of Latitude on the map is measured as 2 x 31 Small Units and the longitude as 54.667 small units. The actual geographical graticule appended measures 60 small units for latitude and 41 small units for longitude.

It is obvious , as will be clearly shown many times that Robert Morden is using 60 small units for latitude which can be translated as
60 x 1.15 = 69 statute miles = 1 degree latitude
60 x 1.25 = 75 Roman Miles = 1 degree latitude
60 x 1.5 = 90 miliaria, the nautical measure for a degree of latitude on portolan charts.

This gives the three scale bars appended a very curious relationship, as scaling from the copy we have for a scale of 10 miles;
Small = 42mm and will be considered as “1” for the ratio comparison
Great=46mm and the relationship ratio is therefore 1: 1.048: 1.095 and hence the 60 Small units reduce to, Small = 60; Middle = 57,25 and Great = 54.79 miles.

But Cornwall according to the F Seebohn map has miles at 1.344 and 1.355, and thus if the Small unit is actually 1.15 Miles, the Middle will be 1.2052 miles and the Great will be 1.26 Miles. Thus it appears that Robert Morden has chosen what is described as a MILLARIUM being 1.15 Miles as his basic unit.



Again the map has been slewed to fit it into the page bordure and the latitudinal lines are set accordingly. From the layout, the latitudes are 60 small units and the longitudes, 43 small units and are thus an acceptable format, but, the ratio is actually for 44.22 degrees north.

The 17 places I have chosen, as before, are representative of the NSEW of the County. However, one, Middleton ceased to exist in 1769, when it was demolished and moved to become Milton Abbas. Apparently the original town was named as it was thought to be the centre of the County.

There are five measurements given by F Seebohn, 1.286; 1.274; 1.271;1.303 and 1.465 miles with a furrow length being one of the shortest at 184 meters or 620 feet, slightly less than the 660 feet norm. However it is in fact the Roman Stade, one eight of a Roman mile, 1.4791KM divided by eight = 0.1848875Km, 184 or 185 metres. The longest mile given as 1.465 has a furlong/furrow of 0.183125 mile, and the shortest, 1.286 miles has a furlong/furrow length of 848.76 feet or 258.77 metres.



The Robert Morden map is centered on either London Bridge or the Cornhill Standard as they are both aligned at this scale. However, London Bridge is longitudinally set 00005.16’ west of the Greenwich Meridian. Because of its longitudinal shape I have chosen 22 places to assess the map, which unfortunately because of the book binding when scanned has a large gap in the centre. The Getty Research Institute have set the two sections precisely positioned and the gap can thus be ignored. Basically it can be shown that the eastern section of Kent from Rochester and Maidstone is set quite accurately but from London Bridge to Rochester there is a small enlargement of the longitudes. Fortunately, the County could be drawn square to the paper which makes for a simpler plot to be assessed.

Kent has 6 mileages to consider, 1.194; 1.308; 1.266; 1.349; 1.448 and 1.453 with a variation of 0.259 miles or 2 furlongs and the standard furrow is only 202 metres or 660 feet.




Perhaps one of the most accurate maps for the original latitudes and longitudes as drawn. It follows the first maps investigated as no doubt the latitudes are meant to be 60 small units. However the small difference between the longitude measurement does not indicate just where Robert Morden chose to set the proportion between latitude and longitude for his maps.

If we study the latitudes from Northumberland to Land’s End Cornwall or the Lizard Point they are 55° 46’N to 50° 00’N and the centre line would be 53° 13’N and thus Lincoln at 53° 14’ and to the east Horncastle at 53° 13’N would be appropriate. That is equivalent to the Cosine 0.598791, an easy 0.6 or 3/5ths ratio. Considering the fact that Robert Morden wrote a Trigonometrical Text, I am perplexed as to why the ratio has not been used.

The County of Lincolnshire has five “old English Miles”, 1.3114; 1.367; 1.305; 1.205 and 1.284 and a furrow length of 256 and 292 metres. They are respectively 840 and 958 feet and amongst the longest in England, being 1.27 and 1.45 greater than the norm of 660feet.


A very problematic map, in that the latitudes appear to slope in the south of the county and then adjust to horizontal in the north. The scale bars are such that the latitudes are c35 small units per half degree but the longitudes have the same measurement.

However, using the MIDDLE scale the latitudes are 61 ½ units per degree and the longitudes 31.25 per degree. Thus we may assume it should indicate 60 units per degree of latitude and 30 units per degree longitude, which would give a degree of latitude for 0.5 of 60000’. I must query whether it was designed as a square chart using the small scale and the Middle scale adjusted to ensure correct readings?


The “Old British Mile” measurements are, 1.2875; 1.538; 1.48; 1,385; 1.56 and 1.50, but the furrow length is the standard 660 feet. These “Old British Mile” lengths far exceed any seen with four approximating to 1 ½ miles, which may signify the Gallic Leuga.



I had expected this map to be similar to the Norfolk Map, but find instead I can construct a normal Latitude/longitude graticule. However the three scale bars Small /Middle/ Great being so close in length all provide a near correct answer. They are Small, 34.6; Middle, 32.7 and Great, 30.5 units with corresponding longitudes of 41.5, 39.27 and 36.6 units. The original latitude/longitude markers are very reasonable but the profile junction Norfolk/Suffolk leaves a lot to be desired.

Suffolk has seven “Old English Mile” measurements, 1.155; 1.41; 1.386; 1.304; 1.609; 1,324 and 1.59 miles. These are now the longest recorded with 1.609 and 1.59 miles, but, the furrow length is not that long at 722 feet. What it does point to is the excellent soil conditions to be found in Norfolk and Suffolk.



The map is set vertically as opposed to all previous maps and is actually set out on the side graticular scales. Royston at 00° 00’, is geographically correct and Royston is also at 52° 03’N and hence the 52N line is set for the map. Unfortunately the longitudes are seriously awry both east and west of Royston. On the Small scale bar the latitude is the standard 60 units per degree.

There are only three “old units”, given as 2465, 1942 and 2131 plus a large portion of another at 2070 “Old English Mile”. They are respectively 1.53; 1.206; 1.324 and 1,286 miles. The furrow length is 220 metres or 721.6 feet and are very similar to the County of Suffolk.




I have noted 17 places from Whitchurch at 52° 58’N, in the north to Tenbury Wells in the south at 52° 18.5’N. And, with Bishops Castle being 03° 00’W a geographic graticule could be easily established.

This map is not labelled as others in that the two measurements are given as “Computed Miles” and “Measured Miles” with scale bar lengths of 10 and 15 miles respectively. Hence the latitude is 46 computed miles or 34.7 Measured Miles for the Whitchurch to Tenbury Wells 000 30’ distance and thus it is 69.4 measured miles per degree when the actuality is 69.142 Miles.

The “Old English Miles” are 1.343; 1,515 and 1.265 miles with a furrow length of 292 metres or 957.76 feet which is 1.45 of the standard 660 feet. This is a very surprisingly long furrow for Shropshire given the diversity of its geographical landscape.


This is a slewed map to fit to the page and has a nearly correct original graticule which gives the latitudes as 60 small per degree and 41 small longitude.

The “Old English Mile” is , 1.257; 1.319 and 1.327 miles with a standard furrow length of 660 feet.





Drawn over large with only two scale bars of 5 miles each and measuring 45 and 49mm, hardly a real difference, the latitude scale is 60 small units per degree and the longitude scale is 36 small units per degree.

The edge scales are drawn slightly awry as the plot indicates possibly because of the slewing of the map to fit the page.

Durham is actually devoid of a singular “Old British Mile” dimension but has part of the North Yorkshire measures which are, 2162 = 1.342; 2260 = 1.405 and 2048 = 1.27 miles. The furrow length is 256 metres or 840 feet which is 1.27 above the standard 660 feet and is thus a division of the 2048 metre/1.27 “old” mile, a perfect one eighth.



Another County drawn vertically and slewed to fit the page. It is unremarkable with latitudes of 60 small units and longitudes of 36.66 small units, and thus accords to the Durham measurements, an adjacent County.

There are three “Old English Mile” units of 1.32; 1.357 and 1.365 miles and could include one stretching from Northumberland at 1.46 miles. Surprisingly for such a diverse county the furrow length is the same as Durham at 256 metres, although there is no matching “Mile” unit.



Set vertically and slewed it is an awkward setting out as it could be set to the bordure angles, however as plotted it has a different layout more to the east. The Middle scale gives 58.25 miles per latitude degree and I suspect it is actually meant to be 60 Middle units per degree, with a longitude of 37.25 miles. The small gives a degree as 64.8 miles as the diagram illustrates.
The “old English Mile” is a shared County Mile, 2350 = 1.46; 2234 = 1.388 and 2048 = 1.272 miles. The furrow length is the same as Durham and Cumberland at 256 metres.



BEDFORD 222/244/266 1/1.1/1.2
BERKSHIRE 235/248/265 1/1.05/1.13
CAMBRIDGESHIRE 156/186/207 1/1.2/1.33
CHESTER 170/178/189 1/1.05/1.2
CORNWALL 157/164/170 1/1.05/1.08
CUMBERLAND 136/146/156 1/1.07/1.15
DERBYSHIRE 114/127/135 1/1.11/1.18
DEVONSHIRE 120/127/135 1/1.06/1.125
DORSETSHIRE 137/166/186 1/1.21/1.36
DURHAM —-/135/148 –/——/1.1
ESSEX 166/178/189 1/1.07/1.14
GLOUCESTERSHIRE 136/150/171 1/1.1/1.25
HAMPSHIRE —–/155/170 –/—-/1.1
HEREFORDSHIRE 110/114/121 1/1.04/1.1
HERTFORDSHIRE 136/148/163 1/1.09/1.2
HUNTINGDON 116/154/176 1/1.33/1.52
COUNTY KENT 155/175/198 1/1.13/1.28
LANCASTER 104/118/132 1/1.35/1.27
LEICESTERSHIRE 146/177/194 1/1.21/1.32
LINCOLNSHIRE 104/127/138 1/1.22/1.33
MIDDLESEX 143/152/165 1/1.06/1.15
MONMOUTH 137/162/183 1/1,19/1.246
NORFOLK 118/136/147 1/1.15/1.246
NORTHAMPTON 116/122/140 1/1.05/1.21
NORTUMBERLAND 64/76/86 1/1.18/1.34
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE 104/111/122 1/1.09/1.17
OXFORDSHIRE 64/73/80 1/1.13/1.24
RUTLAND 61/—/83 1/—-/1.36
SOMERSETSHIRE 64/74/80 1/1.15/1.24
STAFFORDSHIRE 31/38/42 1/1.225/1.355
SUFFOLK 62/67/71 1/1.O8/1.145
SURREY 62/74/87 1/1.19/1.4
SUSSEX 47/51/54 1/1.085/1.149
S WALES —/113/127 —/—-/1.124
WARWICKSHIRE 78/87/95 1/1.115/1.218
WESTMORELAND 61/66/72 1/1.08/1.18
WILTSHIRE 38/45/51 1/1.182/1.325
WORCESTERSHIRE 45/68/80 1/1.51/1.78
EAST RIDING YORKS 80/85/93 1/1.0625/1.123
NORTH RIDING 55/62/63 1/1.127/1.145
WEST RIDING 65/70/73 1/1.077/1.123


His works are, “History of Great Britaine,1611” which includes maps as the first four chapters, but it was his atlas, “The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine” which comprised a complete set of county maps for England and Wales as well as several maps of Irish Counties and a general map of Scotland.

He commenced his Atlas with several “HOMILIES”, including,
“To the well-affected and Favourable reader” in which he inserted the only reference to the scale of his maps. I quote; “The true plot of the whole land, and that again into parts in several Cards are here described, as likewise the cities and Shire-towns are inserted, where-of some have been performed by others, without scale annexed, the rest by mine own travels, and unto them for distinctions sake, the scale of Paces, accounted according to the geometrical measure, five foot to apace I have set: but in this employment I am somewhat to excuse myself from wrongs conceived done unto more beautiful and richer Corporations, which in this survey are in silence over-passed, and places less note and frequencies described: for satisfaction where-of (good reader) understand my purpose, according to the title prefixed, which in this Island (besides other things) is to show the situation of every City and Shire-Town only.”

NOTE: The geometrical measure of 5 feet to a pace is of course the Roman System where it is the “Passum” and the Roman Mile is “Mille Passum”, that is 1000 paces of 5 feet. The Roman Mile is 0.919118 part of a Statute Mile and hence the degree of latitude of 69.142 miles is the equivalent of 75 Roman Miles used on charts and maps with the “miliaria” of 90 per degree used on Portolan Charts with the “Miglia Marittima” of 10 stades (furlongs) of 1.25 Roman Miles length.

The counties of England and Wales account for 61 maps, but unfortunately they do not contain latitudinal or longitudinal references. The maps are c43 x 50 cms in page size.



Thus the first map, “Britain as it was divided in the time of the English Saxons, especially during their Heptarchy”, which does have the geographical co-ordinates appended must be investigated first to at least indicate the general graticule for the county maps. The map has a scale bar of 40 “Miles” which produces latitudes of 53.33Miles and the longitudes which appear to be based upon a point some 20.5 miles west of Greenwich. The furthest point west in the Canary Islands is 18W and the Azores are at 25W. The scale bar would give longitudes as 33 .33 miles and thus a total of 20.5 x 33.33 = 683.33 miles west. At 50° N longitude is 69.142 x COS50 = 44.44 miles and longitude of 33.33 miles at c61°N.
Thus 683.33 divided by 44.44 =15.33 degrees and this is the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria, the central island and probably meant to be that of Claudius Ptolemy.


I have chosen randomly, Dorset, Kent, Durham and Northumberland as comparative maps. Each map is first shown as John Speed produced and then there is an overlay of the Robert Morden plot for comparison of Dorset and Kent.



It is set slewed upon the sheet and affords the latitudes of 50° 20’ and 52° 00’ to be appended with a scale measurement of 10 English Miles and thus ½ degree is 22.875 miles with the degree as 45.75 miles. Longitudinally we have 2° 00’W to 3° 00’W at 34.375 miles and a cosine latitude of 41.29 degrees. As one degree is 69.142 miles John Speed appears to have used a measure of 1 ½ statute miles per degree, which may stem from his original 5 feet measure.


The comparison overlay of Robert Morden’s Dorsetshire map which has 60 small units per degree latitude and 43.23 small units per degree longitude and would be Cosine 43.9 degrees, so very similar. Thus when actually overlaid with equalized scale bars they are virtually the same maps, and his comment about “copied” is certainly BORNE OUT.



The map is set normally on the page and has a scale bar of 8 miles length. Aligning the zero longitude to Greenwich, ½ degree east is Rochester and one degree east between Romney and Whitstable, longitudinally one degree is 33.4 miles. Latitudinally the 51° 00’N and n51° 30’N can be positioned and the measurement is 25 miles or 50 miles per degree. I have noted on the map the geographical position of 51° 00’N latitude, 30 miles south of the 51° 30’ latitude for comparison.


To compare the Robert Morden map by their scale bars proved fallacious and I resorted to the length longitudinally from Greenwich to the North Foreland as this gave similar longitudes on the two maps when plotted from the zero point. Hence there is a great disparity in the two maps latitudinally, although towns maintain a similar longitude as they move north wards.

The ancient divisions of Kent, are the “LATHE” which John Speed has used where-as Robert Moden has chosen to use the “Hundreds” divisions.


Again a slewed map with a scale bar of 8 miles length. The latitude is 53.33 miles per degree and the longitude c28 miles per degree.

I equalized the two maps as best possible and it clearly indicates they are one and the same. However Robert Morden has drawn his map with a constant 60 unit latitude, but the plotted graticule is very acceptable from one to the other.

It is possible to infer from this that the scale of miles used by John Speed varies from map to map dependent upon the original draughtsman of the map he has used!




Another slewed map, but this time in the opposite direction to the Durham Map. With a scale bar of 10 miles and averaging the two latitudes drawn it gives a total of 51 miles per degree. The longitude from 20 0’W to 30 00’ W is 29 miles and thus the cosine is for 55.345 degrees which is actually correct for this map.

The Robert Morden map has latitude measure of 60 Middle Scale Miles with a longitude of 37.2 and thus a cosine for 500 24’ and very similar indeed to the John Speed map and if they are overlaid one on the other it shows again just how close the two maps are geographically.



John Speed has produced a map comprising the North, West and east Ridings of Yorkshire with a scale bar of 16 miles, i.e. half the scale to his norm of 8, an easy change.
It is included with the putative latitudes and Longitudes to illustrate its geography, but as Robert Morden has produced the three Riding maps as separate items no comparison is possible.

NOTE; the afore-going comparison certainly indicates John Speed has used the maps of Robert Morden, perhaps more than he would admit.


Although John Ogilby did not construct an atlas in the normal manner of geographical maps, he produced two volumes which set down the major travel routes of England and Wales. His first volume was, “The Traveller’s Guide” which is a descriptive text of those main routes, sans diagrams, but there-in he describes by compass bearing the change in direction at the mileage taken on the road. He uses “computed” and “measured” miles in order to give a “direct” distance measure which discounts the extra mileage when travelling in hilly country.


From “The Traveller’s Guide”, the examples are page 10, a map of England and Wales with the roads drawn diagrammatically, but having place names and mileage between each. The second example is of the first pages of two routes;
“The Road from London to Aberystwyth “
“The road from London to Arundel in Sussex”.

On the first, the opening eight lines explains the system he has used in the tabulations, and the routes indicate that the measurements are taken from the “Cornhill Standard”.


His great achievement is in fact the text “BRITANNIA”, where-in he produces 100 maps which depict in strip form those roads with the significant features to be seen.
Although Matthew Paris in 1250 in effect had route maps on his maps of Britannia, they are merely single routes in most cases. Thus John Ogilby’s “Britannia” is considered the original route map of the realm.


I have included a copy of the “Preface” as diagrams and point out below the sections I suggest are read. They are marked on the diagram pages for easy access.

In the preface to this masterpiece of presentation, J Ogilby makes the following points. He commences with the names of the ancient geographers as the attached diagrams show, and then remarks, “Their most accurate maps, being but so many “GUESS PLOTS” and their “PERAMBULATED PROJECTIONS” as those of our own Country compiled by Mr Saxton, and more and more vitiated since by trans-scribers and copiers, much inferior to what might have been done by a strict “Dimensuration”.

He then proceeds to describe his volume and remarks, “Commencing actually at London, receive the beginning of computation from the “Standard in Cornhill”, as from another, “Milliarium Aureion”, and dependants, or such as being computed from London, commence not actually there, but branch out of the aforesaid independants.”

Under the heading, “As to the prosecution, we may consider the Dimensuration, Delineation and illustrations”. There are 30 lines of text which should be read.
Under the heading, “In the Delineation or Deciphering these roads upon Copper-Sculptures,” item 3 four lines should be read.
There is then a 43 line section which is pertinent to the whole text.


Following the preface diagrams are two extra diagrams being the first and second of the “Copper Sculptures” showing the map of England and Wales and the roads “geographically” as opposed to the diagrammatic map in his first text. The second diagram is the first section of the road from London to Aberystwyth.

Thus in the 1500’s to the early 1700’s the form of Britannia was being quantified by strict survey measurement which culminated in the “Ordnance Survey” and the precise setting down upon maps of varying scales the whole of the British Isles, and they are still in production today, with constant updating as required.






As already noted, William Camden’s “Britannia” was first published in 1586 in Latin and his 1607 edition utilized the County maps of Christopher Saxton and John Norden.

But when the “Britannia” text of William Camden was translated into English and as the title page amended, the maps of Robert Morden were used making the whole text some 718 pages. However, the “Britannia” of W Camden is a far more detailed description of the whole idea of Great Britain, discussing the Courts, Hierarchical system of Honours, the coins and of course Britain from its very beginnings.

Hence, Robert Morden produced three maps to accompany this section of the text and they are, “England; Britannia Romana and Britannia Saxonica”. Thus it is a historical document from the beginnings through the Ages to Britannia in the 1600’s.

Of all the cosmographies it is probably the most expansive and inclusive of all.






The history of “Travel” maps of Britannia commences with Matthew Paris and his four maps which basically indicate “pilgrimage routes” for “Benedictine” establishments, whilst indicating many towns in England and Wales. He also wrote and illustrated a guide for the journey to Jerusalem.

Then c1420, “The Gough Map” of Great Britain features over 40 roads and their distance measures. My texts GM/1, Gm/2 and Gm/3 detail this fascinating map and theorize upon when it could have been surveyed as the data there-in clearly indicates.

But the foregoing completely ignores the Roman Roads, and the Ancient Tracks as described by R Hippisley Cox and the later Drovers Roads to get cattle to the centres with markets. But, other than the Roman Roads it was not until the 1500’s that major surveys of Counties and their roads was undertaken as the Gough Map is a conundrum.

Thus we come to the era of the Cosmologists who included major and minor geographical information in their maps and in the books descriptive texts of the counties.

The list should also include, Laurence Nowell; Ralph Agas; Humphrey Lloyd; John Norden; John Rudd; Willian Camden; William Stukeley; George Rollos and Thomas Badeslade as well as continental cartographers and cosmographers. However, it is only the beginnings of cosmography in England and Wales that is the subject of this text.

The fact that the “English Statute Mile” which was introduced in the Elizabethan era and was determined as 8 furlongs in 1593 by Act of Parliament is still not used and the Degre of 60 Milliarium continues is testament to the ingrained mentality of the cosmographers who stayed with what they knew.

My text Cs1, Christopher Saxton, analysed the comparable distances of Roman Fortresses to the Saxton 1579 Map and the conclusions were as follows;

“Thus it can be shown that the Miliarium used by Saxton is the equivalent of 1.2 Statute Miles or 1.3 Roman Miles. This is of course simple mathematics, and for that age it required to be! The Statute Mile is 63360 inches which has been thought of as 10 stadia. Thus 6336 becomes the number used; convert that number to Statute Feet and we have 1.2 Statute Miles, the Miliarium. The Roman Pes equals 11.64706 (11.65) inches and 6336 Statute feet equals 6528 Roman Pedes or 1.3056 Roman Miles. Hence from Statute Mile, 10/10, the Miliarium is 12/10 and the Roman Mile equals 13/10. These are the basis of the Saxton Map Scale.”

These maps being the first set of County Maps and a map of Britannia, they are indicative of what could be expected in our Cosmographical texts.

Thus we saw on the maps of Robert Morden three scales, Small; Middle and Great or Large, and a general agreement on the maps that the degree of Latitude was 60 Small units, which must represent the Milliarium. With one degree of Latitude at 50N being 69.1182 Miles and as already indicated 60 Milliarium x 1.15 = 69 Milliarium, which in Medieval Times would be seen as a good compromise on such small scale maps, and the fact that it is also known as 75 Roman Miles, the equivalent of 68.93385 Statute Miles, it was an obvious choice.

Why the Milliarium should be used when there was a “Standard” in the form of Metal Bar and hence the actual measure could be easily determined is unknown. But as already hinted at, why change something you “Know” and can easily use!

But when the Statute Mile became “De Rigueur” then the beginnings of “REAL” map accuracy occurred and was taken up by the likes of General William Roy of the Ordnance Survey Department. In 1798 to 1820, General Mudge FRS was Director of the Survey and from 1820 to 1846 it was Major-General Thomas Colby FRS.

However, in 1785, General Roy wrote a paper, “Account of the measurement of a base line on Hounslow Heath” and surprisingly the major component in the setting out of the line were a series of 1” diameter Glass Tubes, some 18 feet long, and others 26 feet long. Finally , the length of the base line, after applying corrections for temperature and reduction of sea level, was 27,404.01 feet. It was remeasured by two new Chains and found to be 27,404.32 feet and the mean of the two results was there after taken as the true length, viz, 27,402.2 feet.

The triangulation to commenced and a fact to be established was the distance between Dover Castle and the Notre Dame Church, Calais with the English Value at 137,449 feet and the French value of 137, 442 feet, the derived distance in Longitude between Greenwich and Paris was thus established to be 02° 19’ 51”.

Now surveying was no longer a guess, but a very precise set of measurements which culminated not only in the whole of Great Britian being surveyed, but in France “Mechain and Delambre” measured the distance from Dunkerque to Barcelona along a Meridien to establish the length of a degree of latitude, as well as another expedition to Ecuador (Equator) for comparative studies. That they did not agree led to an understanding that the world was an Oblate Spheroid and subject to differences in Latitudes from zero to 90N.

Perhaps the greatest study made was the Great Survey of India by Triangulation which even established the height of Mt Everest!

Cosmologists commenced the mapping of Great Britain, or Britannia, and by their efforts the country was explained to the populace and its actual form exposed to persons who generally travelled little other than in their own County.

It is without doubt that today’s cartographers and historians of cartography owe them a great debt.

Note. “The Green Roads of England”, by R Hippisley Cox, is printed by Methuen and contains many diagrams of the “Green Road” routes.