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Richard Gough, 1735-1809 became the Director of the “Society of Antiquaries” from 1771-1797. He had been an active member of the society having been elected a Fellow in 1767 and the yearly Minute Books indicate his interests. He was elected F.R.S. in 1775.

Whilst at Corpus Christi College Cambridge, 1751-1756, he began work on his first book, “Anecdotes on British Topography”, published in 1768. What is referred to as the second edition, “British Topography” copies of which are held in the Bodleian and Soc Ant Libraries was published in 1780, but a third edition was destroyed in a fire at the printers in 1808, and he died on the 20th February 1809.

The 1768 edition, “Anecdotes of British Topography” comprises a reference work for others to use in locating data and is markedly different to the 1780 book which contains seven engravings, the most important being by James Basire of the Gough Map. It is a large fold out map, 672 x 320 mm and is reduced from the original of 1164 x 553 mm.

Within the 1780 book, page 76, R Gough describes how he obtained the map as follows; “The late Mr Thomas Martin shewed to the same society at the same time a map on vellum, which he supposed to be of the age of Edward III in which the names of London and York were distinguished by large gold letters. This map I purchased at a sale of his MSS, 1774, and shall subjoin the following account of it, to illustrate the copy made by Mr Basire, pl VI. It is drawn on two skins of vellum, in a style superior to any of the maps already described.”


Gm1: The Gough Map; An Investigation. (1992-2008)

This text explored the historical context, ancient cosmography, Roman surveying and then detailed how it was formed from a graticule ( Diagram Gm1D06). Various comparisons were made to other maps and two conclusions posited, with the second opting for an English Monastic establishment for authorship. This text is 9 pages and has 14 diagrams.


After the introduction a section entitled “Research Methodology” set out in the first paragraph the basic errors of the Gough Map. I quote; “Although the Gough map appears to be visually a geographical map of Brittania, it is not. Let me be clear, the errors within the map far outweigh the visual pleasantry, when assessed from a cartographic rather than historical viewpoint. For example, the Cornish peninsula is far out of position; Anglia extends beyond the North Foreland; Wales has an excessive land area infilling Cardigan Bay and completely omitting the Lleyn Peninsula and Bardsey Island; an historic pilgrimage site since the 6th century, the existence of which would have been known to any cleric.. The North Midlands are tilted decidedly westwards and this includes the North of England, and finally Scotland has been afforded a shape that has not been found in any text or extant map of the Middle or late Middle Age.”

However the map produced a complete setting out in terms of a geographical basic graticule. From their use of latitudes and longitudes the precision of those from 51N to 55N is clearly demonstrated along with the Scottish anomaly. The diagrams were Gm2D07 to D10 and there-on the towns which set out the latitudes and longitudes were indicated as well as the setting out method for them. It was thus obvious the map was “constructed” not just drawn.


However, given the excellent latitudinal positioning of towns it was obvious that years of work preceded its construct in gathering the data. Thus as stated in both Gm1 and Gm2 I doubted that it was drawn in c1360 and attributed it to 1400/1420 when historically it was more likely the Survey work could be carried out.
It should be noted that K D Lilley and C D Lloyd in their 2009 paper; “Mapping the Realm; A New Look at the Gough Mao of Britain (c1360), published in Imago Mundi 61;1, 2009, pp1-28 on page 17 posited the idea as follows;em>”It is plausible, therefore, that certain places in England for which terrestrial coordinates were known were positioned relatively more accurately on the Gough Map because knowledge of such information was being practically applied by map’s maker(s). If this is so, it is a finding of great significance, not just for the Gough Map but for medieval cartography more broadly.”

That text was written after my 2008 text Gm1 where I had shown it was plausible and happened.

In my text ChNO/1, I made the following comment taken from John Kirkland Wright, “latitudes and Longitudes”, page 80.
“Walcher of Malvern (England) wrote sometime between 1107 and 1112 a short treatise regarding the difference in local time in various places. Walcher tells how on October 19th 1091 during a visit to the eastern part of Italy he noticed an Eclipse of the Moon in the west shortly before dawn. He was prevented from making accurate observations as he had no “clock”. Desirous of finding the time difference between England and Italy on his return he asked another monk whether he had seen the eclipse. The monk had gone outside, saw the eclipse and noted the hour is still before midnight and the moon in the eastern half of the heavens. From this information Walcher concludes that the difference in time and hence longitude separating England and Italy is by no means inconsiderable.”

I concluded, that it was quite possible the other monk is Roger of Hereford who determined the longitude of Hereford by observing a solar eclipse in the early 12th century.

Thus the figures of latitude and my longitudinal lines are very feasible and the setting out of the Gough Map technically.

RESEARCH CARRIED OUT IN 2012 (Gough Map website text)

“In 2012 an interdisciplinary team convened to take a new look at the Gough Map. Their task was to re-evaluate the existing, often contradictory, literatures with the aid of newly-available high resolution scans and spectral imaging techniques. This team reported its findings are a work-in-progress Symposium in 2015 at the Bodleian Library, and a summary of provision al findings was published in 2017. These qualify much that has hitherto been believed about the map. Most significantly, it is proposed that the extant cartographical image is not a single map, but an accumulation of three distinct layers; Layer One (1390-1410) showing the whole of Britain; Layer Two ( first quarter 15th century) comprising England south of the Wall and Wales; Layer three (last quarter 15th century) restricted to the south-east and south central England. The last two layers in particular are individualized by systematic re-inkings, additions of colour and other details and alterations to place-names.
A study of the pinholes was undertaken. The holes occur in groups, marking the shapes of many of the pictorial town signs across the map- though the holes are absent from Kent, East Anglia, and the south-west. Some of the pricked outlines have no corresponding ink line, and in some places the group of holes is offset from the inked sign. This has led to the conclusion that the holes are most likely medieval in origin, and were made while copying onto the map during its first production, rather than while copying from it. Hitherto they were thought to have been part of the copying process for the creation of the facsimile for Gough’s” British Topography.”

Traditional conclusions about other aspects of the map were revised, including many transcriptions of the place-names and the identification of some places represented on the map. New discoveries have also been made about the subsequent history of the map. Grey stains over many place names have been found to be caused by a reagent (made from oak galls and Madeira wine) applied at Richard Gough’s request, that he hoped would make the faded writing more legible. On-going research extends the number of regional case studies already carried out (Northwest England, North Norfolk coast)”



The “Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Preservation” produced a facsimile for technical study when their specialist scan enabled a full examination rather minutely of the map.

Their website has 6 options for viewing the map and if “Colour+ 3D Lucida “ is chosen then the map clearly indicates the pin-holes when enlarged as necessary.

I have used this to plot the pin-holes on my overlay copy of the 80% map I use for the study.


However there is a paragraph which assists the viewer, but, also has the main contentious sentence; “The scan was carried out using the Lucida 3D Scanner, and the results exceeded expectations: evidence from the 3D scan points to the use of a pin in copying features from an unknown exemplar onto the new, appropriately-sized, parchment”

However, what it does not make clear is that the pin-holes do not penetrate through the vellum of the map and are spread in an almost arbitrarily pattern along the map’s length in the west. Neither are they positioned on coastlines, rivers etc., which seems to indicate if the comment is correct, that they were only interested in the towns features. BUT WHY?

Surely competent scribes could draw vignettes of the towns with such an aid. But that also means that the coastlines, rivers and other features not towns were previously drawn, and as a large section of the map does not have the pin-holes, it is open to opine the idea is false.

Thus the latest New Discoveries and Facsimile, 2022 has a text as shown on the diagram but one very important single sentence, “Prominent pinholes and scoring marks are clearly visible from the recordings.”

There is an obvious reason for scoring marks, and thus at this point it is necessary to ignore the above possibility of pricking through and establish just how James Basire copied the map to produce his engraving.


The attached diagram sets out the reduction from 1164 x 553mm to 672 x 320mm and clearly shows it is a mathematical concept based upon the square root of the umber 3. Thus the engraving is one third the area of the actual map. From these measurements we can calculate precisely the methodology of producing the engraving.



In the late 1700’s there were many engravers established in London and many were used by the Society for Antiquaries for their publications. There are two principal methods of obtaining a copy of an object/building/map to provide a basis for an engraving; Camera Obscura and Pantograph.



The attached diagram is an on-line short description and drawing of it being used. It was basically used to capture scenes of Architecture and Landscape and as the pages of books were not generally overlarge the unit of the Obscura was quite portable and adequate for an engraver to use. It is particularly useful as it is in reverse format which is precisely the format an engraver uses for printing.


However, anybody who is old enough to have used a Box Brownie Camera, basically a pinhole camera, will know full well that good lighting is essential. The Gough Map is basically a dark item and reflected light will not be able to provide the detail that is required to trace the image of the map at 672 x320mm size.

When the camera obscura is used externally, depending upon the day and time of day, the recorder can chose those. Where-as the Gough Map would require to be hung horizontally and vertically in brilliant sunlight to achieve the desired copy. Dull days and inclement weather would preclude this method. But if it was attempted and could not be achieved in a single day then setting it all up a second time and ensuring the exact dimensions were achieved would be a very onerous and perhaps impossible task.

There is also the fact that the Camera Obscura box would be very large as the diagram illustrates.


There is an excellent paper online “how does a Pantograph work” and I have included part of it as a diagram which also has a photo of a George III brass pantograph signed, J Search Crown Court Soho.

A second paper includes the following note; “You may not want to use it (the pantograph and its stylus pointer) on original photos” and is a salutary lesson for a beginner as the stylus will make a small hole by virtue of the weight of the brass castings.

Note that the researchers have shown a photo of a hole and given it dimensions and that photo does not show any ink in the hole which would happen if the hole preceded the ink lines.



The Science Museum London has the following on their Collections Online database, being Pantographs in their collection;
1980-1159 made 1734-1772 by George Adams, London
1909-168 made 1738-1777 by Benjamin Martin, London
1980-1168 made 1751-1773 by Heath & Wing, London
1962-195 made 1752-1754 by John Wilkinson, Ormskirk
1927-1151 made 1765 by George Adams, London
To which I can add
J Search of Crown Court, Soho London (WC2B)
J E Troughton, Instrument Maker, 136 Fleet Street London
William and Samuel Jones, 135 Holborn London
all of which were active in the 1770’s, and producing pantographs.


Richard Gough purchased the Map in 1774 and wrote his two volumes of “British Topography” which were printed and published in 1780. Thus either R Gough studied the map immediately to be able to write his text in volume one and possibly had the chemical experiments carried out prior to that thus hopefully enabling him to read the obscured names, or, he handed it over immediately to James Basire to engrave thus enabling both parties to work on it simultaneously once the basic reduction was achieved.

The engraving has all the items there-on which are hard to read even on the 80% photographic print I have been using and it suggests that it had not been treated but carefully examined by magnifying glass. The latest scans of course show these items but were not available in the 1770’s.




I have already shown how the reduction from 1164 x 553 to 672 x 329 was achieved and to check its accuracy I obtained two copies of the engraving print from two libraries. They were taken on “Mobile Phones” and are the best available without a proper photographer being employed or one being removed from the book and flattened out by ironing. That is the basic problem , the map has been folded and kept in a closed book since 1780, that is 250 years! Keeping it flat was not possible given those circumstances and the heavy folds also proved problematic.

However thanks to both parties I could enlarge the photos and produce an overlay to my 80% photograph map. The results were better than I expected in that when overlaid there was a very good comparison as the attached diagrams indicate. They are not perfect as the distortions on the photos and gauging the exact magnification was difficult.

My decision to increase the engraving and not reduce the 80% photo was premised on the basis of the larger the item the greater the chance of spotting differences. But of course with the distortions of the book foldout page and enlargement accuracy some were created by my technique.

Gm/3/D12 & Gm/3/D13

Thus I can opine that the engraving was not freehand drawn on a Camera Obscura screen, but was copied at Root3 size by a pantograph, hence only the town icons are marked as the coastlines and rivers afforded a continuous copying line and thus the use of a ball ended tracer which gave the scoring marks already mentioned.

The fact that Anglia, Kent and the SW have no pinholes has two possible explanations;
1) the operator was now proficient and did not require to set down the pointer but only just touch the map
2) to speed up production the map in the South East could have been traced to be reduced by pantograph onto tracing paper at a later date. Therefore the map could be returned to Richard Gough “on time”. This was of course at full scale and thus could be very accurate.

I assume that Richard Gough’s experimentation would not have been a quick procedure by whomever carried it out, a Chemist I assume, and by working simultaneously it allowed for adequate time to experiment and write the two rather large volumes of “British Topography”.


I asked myself some simple questions at the start of this project;
How did the coastlines, rivers, mountains, islands and fish come to be drawn first to allow the supposed “pricking through” and how was the “first map” positioned to ensure the correct placement when the vellum is not semi-transparent? Thus is it a more likely fact that if the idea of copying was correct then the whole map would be pinned oner the new vellum and all would be marked accordingly?!
Why are the “pricked holes”, the so called pin holes, primarily on the vignettes of town buildings and basically from Scotland along the west coast into Wales?
If as has been clearly stated by the “experts” that this is the result of copying from another map and pricking through, why was this necessary? Were not the scribes in the monastic scriptoriums not capable of copying the correct form and positioning without the necessity to prick through for “profile” and why was it so important that the vignettes were so copied? Are they so important that they had to be the same?
Why are the pinholes basically clean when an ink line is supposed to have been drawn over them? With fading the dots would have stood out along the lines very visibly.

After assessing these questions I wrote my text and concluded that the answer was the use of a pantograph, which given the age, 1770’s, would be made of heavy cast brass and just placing it on the vellum would make a small pinhole. Even just using compasses or dividers can produce the same resulting small pinhole.

When I carried out the mathematical check on the reduction size and found it to be a precise Root3 scale down and was thus 1/3rd the original map area, I discussed this with Richard Goddard the author of “Drawing on copper; the Basire family of copper-plate engravers and their works” and deliberately copied my emails to the Bodleian Library.
On 06/03/2023 I wrote as follows to a Bodleian comment; “Thanks, I look forward to seeing what you have . But may I caution your deduction that a map was placed on it and salient points marked. Those are the same marks you will see if you are setting it out. How much use they will be unless you have a logical methodology to ensure that you know where the pin marks are is another matter indeed which will show by the scan results. Hence if it is pinned through another map then not all the pins will be stopped before producing a hole. The vellum is quite thin and it will be impossible to be anywhere near 100%”

The response on 07/03/2023 was;
“Our experience with this is limited to the Gough, but the distribution of pin-holes around key features such as coast, locations, even buildings suggests that a map was placed on top and used as a guide for the drawing of the Gough. No images available of the pin-holes at moment. There is on-going investigation on the map which should lead to publication of some sort in the near future which should include more of this.”


At this juncture I should add that I am an excellent draughtsman with 65 years of “training” and have used compasses, dividers, scale dividers, pantographs and beam compasses all my career and am capable of setting out maps. Thus the spurious marks are a day to day occurrence which we try to avoid, but as the points are so sharp even just lightly placing them on a surface can cause a pin-hole. Thus a pantograph is fitted with various pointers to allow for precision and for running around a shape the end of the pointer is a small ball which allows continuous movement. But compasses and dividers are equally a problem.


The Gough map is a mathematical construct using known latitudes to gauge the positioning of towns and has a rather precise setting out from 51N to 55N as the diagrams illustrate. The longitudes fall into place at the correct cosine percentage ratio.

To carry out this, compasses and dividers would have been required leaving spurious pin-holes and as “Pencils” were not available as markers then the points and blunt ends would be used on the vellum as guide marks. (Even lead sticks were used as pencils as well as thin charcoal sticks). By scribing with a blunt ended compass a small marked line is scored on the surface. Thus if there are any pin-holes around the coast (which I have not seen to any extent on the excellent Lucida scan) they are firstly to aid setting out and secondly probably cause by the heavy handed use of a pantograph pointer to copy the map at Root3 for engraving.

Perhaps it would be, in this instance, an idea to try to draw the Gough Map using the tools available in 1400AD and then make conclusions vis a vis any marks there-on if you are not persons au fait with drawing methodology. I do not think a competent draughtsman/cartographer was part of the research team which is perhaps a real pity when the whole of the research revolves around it’s drawing.