The County of Shropshire

Saxton's map of Shropshire, 1577


(Salopiae Comitatus summa cum fide, cura et diligentia descriptionem haec tibi tabula refert).


Cartographer: Christopher SAXTON.
Size: 510 mm x 380 mm. Scale: approx. 1 cm = 1 mile.
Shropshire Archives ref: CM/2/1. Reproduction in map chest in reading room.
Cowling ‘Printed Maps of Shropshire’ 1

In 1574 Saxton was commissioned by Thomas Seckford, an officer in Queen Elizabeth I’s court, to map all the counties of England and Wales, as an aid to national government. The resulting book was the first national atlas of provincial maps in the world and, in 1592, Lord Burghley remarked that every Secretary of State should have a copy. This map was part of that atlas. It was reprinted many times throughout the 17C and 18C, separately or in atlas form and remained the standard on which all county maps were based for 200 years.

The county boundary is marked clearly with a dotted line. Adjoining counties are named, but left blank. Hills are drawn in profile, shaded brown with shadows to the east; the end result is rather lumpy and it is difficult to get an impression of continuous features or the extent of the upland area. Rivers are shown by a double line, coloured blue and named. Settlements are depicted as a central dot in a circle and are named. Market towns have buildings around the dot and their names are in capitals. Villages have a church with a tower. Castles, windmills, beacons and river bridges are shown. Deer parks have a boundary of paling fence and forests are shown by groups of trees. There are no roads on this map.

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