This drawing of Trethevy Quoit in Cornwall is from a unique manuscript by John Norden. Surveyor to Elizabeth I (1533-1603), Norden visited this Neolithic burial chamber in 1584 as part of a survey of the county. The manuscript of his survey, entitled Speculi Britanniae pars, or a topographical and historical description of Cornwall, by the perambulacion, view and delineacion of John Norden, was presented to Elizabeth’s successor James I (1566-1625) in 1604. It was published long after Norden’s death in 1728.
Robert Harley (1661-1724) or his son Edward (1689-1741) purchased Norden’s manuscript for their family Library. When it was eventually sold to the British Museum in 1753, the Harleian Library encompassed 7660 unique and illuminated manuscripts, over 14,000 original legal documents and 500 rolls. This collection is one of the cornerstones of the British Library’s Department of Manuscripts.