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Plan of Shrewsbury

Plan of Shrewsbury

Cartographer: Unknown

Medium: Ink and tempera on parchment

Date: 1540

Shelfmark: Royal MS. 18. D.III f.90

Length: 34.8

Width: 47.7

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Plan

This is a manuscript plan of Shrewsbury. 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. Here Shrewsbury is recorded as a walled town, adjacent to the city gate leading from "franc ville". Lord Burghley has added "ye welsh gate". The author and date of the map are not known, however its presentation suggests a date of around the 1540s. The map is presented in the bird's eye view style, with information recorded pictorially and differentiation between different buildings detailed. Human activity and wildlife is also illustrated. There is no indication of scale, with the swans depicted significantly larger than the people. The inclusion of this map in the atlas reveals a little about Lord Burghley's philosophy of map use, which can be summed up as "the more the better". He believed that no single map would tell you everything you needed to know about an area, so that the more maps of an area one had, the greater the chances of building an accurate picture of the area. From the annotation Lord Burghley has added, it seems quite clear that the value of this map for him was that it showed the city walls and the location of the city gates and the roads which lead to them.

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