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Cartographer: Saxton, Christopher

Medium: Engraving, coloured

Date: 1576

Shelfmark: Royal MS. 18. D.III f.8

Length: 41

Width: 53.8

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Map

This map of Cornwall is by Christopher Saxton. 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.

This map was produced under the patronage of Thomas Seckford, a Master of Requests to Elizabeth I, who had commissioned Saxton’s atlas of county maps, a project overseen by Lord Burghley, Secretary of State, whose administration increasingly involved the use of maps.

Here an annotation, probably by Lord Burghley, can be seen in the addition of a bridge at Truro. Such an addition is typical of Lord Burghley who was concerned with communication routes, such as roads and bridges, which were vital to the defence of the country, a central consideration during the reign of Elizabeth I, during which England was continually under threat.

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