Cartographer: Saxton, Christopher
This map of Devon is from the 1583 edition of the Saxton 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 used of maps in government matters, Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State, 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. The decorative scale bar houses the name of Saxton and of the Flemish engraver Remigius Hogenberg who prepared the copper plate for this map. This is the only map in the atlas that features a compass rose as well as the cardinal points in the borders, seeming to indicate the Devon has been turned slightly clockwise to fit the plate. Two ships engaging in battle are depicted off the coast of Plymouth, perhaps making reference to the vulnerability of this section of south coast and the location of naval bases.