Map of a Nation

Talk about items you find on SABRE Maps - interesting features, historic road layouts etc. Also contains announcements of new maps available on SABRE Maps.

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KeithW
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Map of a Nation

Post by KeithW »

I am reading the book with the above title by historian Rachel Hewitt which is as the author describes it a biography of the Ordnance Survey from its conception in the confusion in Scotland during the Jacobite rebellions. Essentially nobody except the locals knew where anywhere really was or the best way to get anywhere else. The English largely solved this by establishing forts on the coast such as Fort William and Fort Augustus and sailing there. The army started the ball rolling by sending General Wade to Scotland in 1724 to build roads and of course the first thing he head to do was survey the routes. I am still in chapter 1 but thus far it looks very promising.
Other sellers are available but this one has a limited preview. The Kindle version preview is much more extensive.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Map-Nation-Bio ... =4&depth=1
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owen b
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Re: Map of a Nation

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I got that book for Christmas in hardback several years ago (it was published in 2010). It's been sitting on my bookshelf ever since waiting to be read :oops: . I must get round to it. It looks good but it doesn't look like light reading.
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Re: Map of a Nation

Post by Ritchie333 »

owen b wrote: Tue Dec 14, 2021 11:39 I got that book for Christmas in hardback several years ago (it was published in 2010). It's been sitting on my bookshelf ever since waiting to be read :oops: . I must get round to it. It looks good but it doesn't look like light reading.
Exactly what Owen said, except I got it for paperback (c. 2015) and have read the first few pages, then never got around to finishing the rest. :oops:
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wrinkly
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Re: Map of a Nation

Post by wrinkly »

I have a copy of a different book, Ordnance Survey: Map Makers to Britain since 1791 by Tim Owen and Elaine Pilbeam, published by OS 1992, large format paperback. I've probably read all of it by random dipping, some bits more than once.
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KeithW
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Re: Map of a Nation

Post by KeithW »

wrinkly wrote: Tue Dec 14, 2021 18:56 I have a copy of a different book, Ordnance Survey: Map Makers to Britain since 1791 by Tim Owen and Elaine Pilbeam, published by OS 1992, large format paperback. I've probably read all of it by random dipping, some bits more than once.
I got the Kindle version which was cheaper being as its the default book opened when I switch it on I am making decent progress :)
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KeithW
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Re: Map of a Nation

Post by KeithW »

Well I have finished the book and it was anything but dry and dusty.

It deals with the first edition maps which had also sorts of diversion including an early combined effort with the French to map both channel coasts to common reference, the UK base line was set out on Hounslow Heath ironically pretty much where Heathrow Airport is today. The personalities involved are explored in some depth so in some ways its rather biographical.

What I found particularly interesting was that the first effort was not just mapping process but an in depth survey of who owned what land and its usage which was primarily about taxation and ownership. It was in effect doing what the Land Registry does today. One of the results was a codification of place names in Gaelic , Welsh and Irish. Many of the land owners were unhappy about this as they had been economical with the truth when it came to the value of their land, many 'bogs' were found to be good arable land for example.

As result many of those involved in the survey were native Gaelic and Welsh speakers which was very unusual in government departments of the day. The downside was that the changes in land usage as the Highland and Irish enclosures got underway in earnest was that many of these surveys had to be redone multiple times so the remit of the Ordnance Survey was largely restricted to the cartographic aspects and the geologists adopted the OS base map for their survey.

I recommend it highly.
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