GLOCESTRIAE Sive Claudiocestriae Comitat.
Cartographer: Saxton, Christopher
Medium: Engraving, coloured
This is a map of Gloucestershire by Christopher Saxton dating from 1577. It forms part of an atlas that belonged to William Cecil Lord Burghley, Elizabeth I’s Secretary of State. Burghley used this atlas to illustrate domestic matters.
This map is actually a proof copy of one which forms part of Christopher Saxton’s 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 use of maps in government matters, Lord Burghley, 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. Burghley has annotated this map, adding place names along the river Sabrina Flu and at points on other rivers near Bristol. Dotted lines have also been added, possibly indicating communication routes. Black marks have been added at tributary mouths. These additions to the waterways of the area possibly reflect a concern that enemy invaders could sail up the Bristol Channel. At this time England was under threat of invasion from Catholic Spain, a threat which culminated in the events of the Spanish Armada. The map was engraved by Augustinus Ryther, the most accomplished of a team of seven English and Flemish engravers employed to produce the copper plates for the atlas.