Map of the coast of Dorset from Poole Harbour to Lyme Regis


This drawing of the Dorset coast dates from 1539. It shows the defensive capacity of the county, depicting forts and gun towers as well as the network of beacons that run the length of the coastline. The defences depicted here probably include planned as well as existing fortifications. Defences were bolstered and built all along the south coast during this period as a response to the threat of invasion from King Francis I of France (1494–1547) and Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain (1500–1550).

This particular map was made in 1539 under the auspices of Thomas Cromwell (b. in or before 1485, d. 1540), who had issued orders to the inhabitants of vulnerable, coastal areas to survey and report on the military condition of their counties. These surveys, which were often just sketches or even text, were sent to Greenwich where they were edited, compiled and copied out for presentation to King Henry VIII (1491–1547), who displayed them in Whitehall. Such large scale fortification planning is symptomatic of the growth in consciousness of the value of maps that occurred in the Tudor period. This map forms what is most likely to have been the original survey for a pictorial roll map measuring 10 feet long which contains information concerning the state of defences, detailing the distance between points along the coast and measurements at sea. The prominence given to beacons is notable, as are the manuscript notes detailing the various depths of water throughout.

Full title:
Map of the coast of Dorset from Poole Harbour to Lyme Regis
Manuscript / Illustration / Map
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Cotton MS Augustus I i 31

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