#LoveMaps – Huw Owen

#LoveMaps / Collections / News and Events - Posted 14-12-2017

Huw Owen, former keeper of pictures and maps at The National Library of Wales takes part in our #LoveMaps campaign.

Humphrey Llwyd, Cambriae Typus, 1573

See a zoomable version of this map

Printed maps of Wales produced in the sixteenth century represented a considerable improvement on the manuscript maps created in the Middle Ages. Humphrey Llwyd’s Cambriae Typus, the earliest printed map to denote Wales as a separate country, was incorporated, together with his map of England and Wales, in the Additamentum, a supplement to Abraham Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, published at Antwerp in 1573. This was the first modern geographical atlas, compiled, edited and published by Ortelius in 1570, with 42 folio editions of the atlas published between 1570 and 1612.

Llwyd, a prominent Renaissance scholar, had been born at Denbigh, one of the major towns in sixteenth-century Wales, and which he represented as its Member of Parliament. Ortelius had probably been informed of the work of Llwyd by Sir Richard Clough, the merchant who worked in Antwerp, and who, like Llwyd, was also a native of Denbigh. Llwyd’s local associations probably explain the improved presentation of the coast and rivers of north Wales in his map of Wales.

Cambriae Typus was finely engraved, and measuring 456 x 348mm, the scale of 1 inch to 8.2 miles was displayed in the lower left hand corner. Other decorative features included the title, lettering and illustrations of a ship with three masts in Cardigan Bay and a sea creature near Fishguard. Mountains and forests were depicted pictorially. The outline of the Welsh coast was a considerable improvement on those shown in earlier maps, but defects included the failure to denote Gower, the mere suggestion only of St Bride’s Bay, and a distortion of the Ll?n Peninsula, Anglesey and Milford Haven, In contrast to the accurate representation of rivers in north wales, those entering the Bristol Channel were shown in diagrammatic form, and in west Wales the names of the rivers Rheidol and Ystwyth were transposed.

On the whole towns were accurately located. Place-names appearing in a bilingual format included ‘Trenewidd’ / ‘Newthon’, ‘Abertyvi’ / ‘Cardigan’; and ‘Abertawy’ / ‘Swansey’. The names of the traditional Welsh kingdoms, such as ‘Dehenbartia’ (Deheubarth), Povisia (Powys) and ‘Venoditia’ (Gwynedd) were presented in capital letters, whilst others, including ‘Meridnia’ (Meirionnydd), ‘Ceretica’ (Ceredigion) and ‘Morgannuc’ (Morgannwg) appeared in lower-case letters. Errors or inconsistencies may possibly be explained by the employment of foreign artists or engravers.

The words ‘Auctoris patria’ which appear on the map next to the place-name ‘Denbigh’ draw attention to Humphrey Llwyd’s family associations. These are of considerable personal interest in that he is believed to have been a descendant of Harry Rossendale, whose name reflects his Lancastrian family background. He was one of a number of persons from north-west England granted lands in the lordship of Denbigh, established in 1282 following the Edwardian Conquest of Wales. The survival of traditional elements in this area; upheaval caused by the re-settlement of native families and the consequent territorial and tenurial reorganisation; and movement to this locality of several families with a similar background to that of the Rossendale family are themes which have been examined by me in several publications, and in a forthcoming volume concentrating on the medieval lordship of Denbigh.

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