Map Features - diagrams
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I have plotted the map features noted
against time, decades from 1570s-1890s. The crude plots
show occurrences, not counted frequencies.|
This exercise builds on an idea first tried out on longcase clocks in the late 1970s which produced a dating system. A clock with no maker's name could be dated reliably from its features. Thsi sounds nothing special, it's what an expert does anyway, but the application of fuzzy set theory and objective observation produced far more reliable results than any expert.
Norgate, Martin: 1984: Clock Dating: Antiquarian Horology: vol.14: pp.489-497This exercise with maps is seriously faulted. The sample of maps is small. The type of map studied covers a range of scales, and a range of areas, both of which factors effect what is shown and how it is shown. But the effort proves that the study would be worth doing again properly. My interests are moving on and I cannot face going back over a decade of work to repeat the same again, even though far better.
There are a few small thoughts about what and how are shown on a map:-
Terminus Ante Quem NonFeatures cannot be shown on a map before they exist. If the wreck of the Royal George is shown at Spithead then the map was drawn after 1782 when it sank.
Existence is not always so definite. The London and Southampton Railway opened throughout in 1840, by which time its name had changed to the London and South Western Railway. But parts of it in Hampshire were opened in 1838 and 1839; the authorising Act of Parliament was passed 1834; the Bill proposing the line is earlier and includes a mappable description of the route; the idea is even earlier. The map maker wants his map to remain accurate into the future and will plot the railway as soon as he can. This forward thinking can misfire. The branch of the Basingstoke Canal to Turgis Green never was cut, but it is plotted on several published maps.
The earliest county map of Hampshire to show roads is Robert Morden's playing card map of 1676; the roads are roughly those of John Ogilby's strip maps of 1675. The tiny playing card map is barely useful and Richard Blome's map of 1681 deserves whatever credit is due to a 'first'. The presnce of roads on a map looks liek a clue to the map's date. Do not be lead astray. Roads, of some sort! existed earlier than this period. If you find an earlier (from other evidence) map with roads then don't conclude it is after 1681; get excited, you've discovered an earlier county road map.
Terminus Post Quem NonThe 'ending' of a feature from the landscape should, but might not, stop the map maker showing it. Cessation of use doesn't mean it disappears. The Portsmouth and Arundel Canal, section across Portsea Island, closed after a short life. But the canal was there, to be plotted, for a while after. Beacons went out of use, their posts and cressets are removed, but the notional sites remain and are still remembered in placenames. If map makers copy from earlier maps without careful checking, they will continue to plot disused features.
FashionNot all map features depend on the existence of a feature on the ground. A map [usually] has a title, a scale, clue to orientation, etc. The way these are treated depends partly on technical matters, units, accuracy, zero point, and so on. But it is also subject to the whim of the map maker, or on fashion, communal whim, which changes with time. The way a map feature, like a title cartouche, is shown is a dating tool. Do remember that it can be fashionable to use an oldfashioned idea.
TechniquesHow a map feature is shown can reflect a desire to show more and more accurate information; qualitative symbols will give way to quantitative depiction. The drawing of a walled town, with towers and gates, positioned by a dot and circle, will give way to a simplified street plan with blocks and shading for built up areas, showing the shape and extent of the town. Finely engraved labels, mostly italic lowercase, give way to a graded series; upright block caps, italic block caps, upright lowercase, and italic lowercase, in various font sizes and weights, to differentiate the sizes of settlements.
ContentWhat gets plotted varies from period to period. Excluding the demands of purposeful thematic content, there is a basic group of topographical features which make a county map; sea, coast line, rivers, relief, woodland, county boundary, settlements, roads, ... The list is neither exclusive nor all inclusive. Some features, roads for one, are left off early maps - surprising to a modern map user. Parks are significant in the Elizabethan landscape but, whilst they are still in place and are plotted, are of less concern today. The warning beacons in Hampshire are all plotted by John Norden in 1595, seven years after the Armada, but only exist today as placename memories. In the 1830s county maps included complicated data about electoral divisions, voting facilities, and representation in Parliament: the first Reform Act was passed 1832. The first road maps by John Ogilby showed ascents and descents; today's road atlases mostly ignore a road's gradient, the modern car doesn't care. What is shown is a clue to the map's context.
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