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Cartographer: Unknown

Medium: Ink and tempera on parchment

Date: 1580

Shelfmark: Cotton Augustus I.ii f.6

Length: 27.5

Width: 46.5

Scale: Centimetres

Genre: Manuscript Map

This is a plan of fortifications at Tynemouth. It shows the internal structures of the fort, noting the function of each; stables, constable’s lodgings and gate house are marked. The town itself is shown in relation to the fort as a generic group of buildings, revealing that the defence fortifications are the primary concern of the draughtsman. This plan dates from 1580’s, a time of unease in England about the possibility of a Spanish invasion. The Anglo-Spanish relationship had been in steady decline since the accession of the protestant Elizabeth I. Raids on transatlantic shipping by English seamen such as Francis Drake and England’s support of the Protestant rebellion in the Spanish ruled Netherlands made matters worse and war broke out in 1585, culminating in the events of the Spanish Armada.
It is recorded that on 18th March 1588, Lord Hunsdon, Governor at Berwick, informed Sir Francis Walsingham that in response to the Council’s worries about the decay of Tynemouth, he would go there with his surveyor of works, ‘a very skilful man’ and take ‘a perfect view’, which he would then bring to London. This plan may be the referred to ‘perfect view’, reflecting the concern over Tynemouth’s defences in the face of the impending Spanish invasion.
This plan is also interesting as it does not show two Italianate demi bastions. These were proposed to be built in plans dating from 1545. Their absence here compounds the documentary evidence that suggests that they were never built.

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