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A Coloured Plan of Tynemouth Abbey and Castle

A Coloured Plan of Tynemouth Abbey and Castle

Cartographer: Scala, Gian Tommaso

Medium: Ink and pigments on vellum

Date: 1545

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.ii.f.7

Length: 65.9

Width: 45.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript Map

This is a map of Tynemouth dating from 1545. On the basis of handwriting it is thought that the cartographer was Gian Tommaso Scala, described, with Antonio da Bergamo, as 'Italians expert in fortifying' and employed by Henry VIII in the 1540’s as engineers. Tynemouth was reviewed by Sir Richard Lee in February 1545. He found it to be 'a place moste apte and nedeful to be fortyfied' … 'none within this realme more'. Hostilities between England and France broke out once again in 1542 and Henry VIII was concerned about possible French plans to attack via the North as well as from Scotland. Reflecting this concern Lee was sent to survey the area with Gian Tommaso Scala and Antonio da Bergamo. This drawing and the proposals it contains may be the result of this survey. It shows two Italianate demi-bastions. These are very large and were intended to house artillery and reinforce the curtain wall which defended the west, landward, side. These proposals show the transmission of the Italian trace italienne fortification to the English. Quadrilinear in overall layout with massive angle-bastions the trace Italian fortification provided fire power outwards and flanking power along the walls so that no blind spots existed, enabling defenders to cover all the surrounding ground. Nothing like Scala’s proposal was built as there was not sufficient time to undertake anything so complex. A large ditch and a very long earth wall were built instead.

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