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Saxton 1575
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These notes are made from a map of Southamtoniae, ie Hampshire, by Christopher Saxton, 1575, published in An Atlas of England and Wales, 1579. The maps studied are in the Map Collection of Hampshire CC Museums Service, mostly using item HMCMS:KD1996.1.
map type: HantsMap & Saxton 1575
Some of the symbols and labelling on our copy of the map have been added to the printing plate in an indifferent hand.


Christopher Saxton was born in Dunningley, near Wakefield, Yorkshire, about 1542-44. He was commissioned by Thomas Seckford, gentleman, Suffolk, Master of Requests to Elizabeth I, to map all the counties of England and Wales. The surveys were done 1570-78, the project assisted by letters from the Privy Council. 34 county maps were published 1579, in An Atlas of England and Wales; the first national atlas of any country. The map maker was granted letters patent by Elizabeth I for a 10 year privilege of printing and selling the maps, and given his own coat of arms, granted 1 July 1579. The arms of Elizabeth and of his patron, Seckford, appear on his maps. Saxton died about 1660.
Each county map, except Yorkshire which is large, is engraved on a single plate. Various scales are used, to suit the size of county. Magnetic North is at the top; roughly, the shape of the county might occassion a swing of a few degrees to fit it neatly in the rectangular sheet.


title cartouche    
coat of arms    
map maker    

The title of the map is in a cartouche surmounted by the royal coat of arms, Elizabeth I.
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Quarterly, 1 and 4 azure three fleur de lys argent, 2 and 3 gules three lions passant guardant or
and mottoes:-
The supporters are a crowned lion and a dragon, this is one of the few periods when the welsh dragon is inlcuded with the arms.
The title is:-
SOUT / HAMTONIAE. / Comitatus (preter Insulas / Vectis, Jersey, et Garnsey, / quae sunt partes eiusdem / comitatus) cum suis undiqe / confinibus; Oppidis; pagis; / Villis; et fluminibus; / Vera descriptio:
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A secondary cartouche, decorated with a rams head has the title again:-
SOUTHAMTONIAE / Commitatus preter Civitatem / Wincestriam habet Oppida, me / rcatoriae 18 pagos et villas 248
In a small strapwork cartouche bottom centre is:-
Christophorus Saxton descripsit.
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The engraver's name is given below the scale line:-
Lenaert Terwoort was a Fleming living and working in England.
The text engraving on this map is a delight; accurate and clear with a lovely feel to the letter spacing and decoration. Extended ascenders and descenders work between cartographic elements to please the eye.
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coat of arms    
As well as the arms of the monarch there is the coat of arms of Saxton's patron, Thomas Seckford. Motto:-
idleness is the plague of the country

In the strapwork of the cartouche there date is a date for the map:-
AN DNI / 1575
(After 1576 Seckford's motto was Industria Naturam Ornat)
With all the strapwork there are fantastical bits of engraving, fruit, insects, the rams head mentioned, etc.

picture frame border    
The map border imitates carved wood picture framing
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swash lettering    
Empty space outside the county is filled with swash lettering, naming the contiguous counties.
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labelled borders    

The four borders of the map sheet are labelled with directions:-
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scale line    
old english mile    

There is a scale line of 10 miles, chequered in half miles, caption:-
Scala Miliarum
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There is a pair of dividers above. The 10 miles = 83.2 mm, giving, wrongly assuming a statute mile for the map maker's mile, a map scale about:-
1 to 190000 ?
3 miles to 1 inch
A better estimate can be made from town positions, comparing known town-town distances using DISTAB.exe. The map scale is about:-
1 to 240000
4 miles to 1 inch
The map maker's mile is an:-
Old English Mile = 1.22 statute miles

index grid    
This map has no index grid. Calculations have been made to overlay the National Grid system on the map, see:-
button see:- SAX1NGR.txt

sea area    
sea pecked    
sea monsters    

The sea to the south of the county is stippled.
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In the sea are various ships, small coastal craft and two carracks of the period. A couple of unlikely fish are drawn as well.
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The hull of the smaller carrack is clearly pointed at one end and flat at the other, where there is a stern rudder. It has two masts and a bow sprit: main mast and main topmast with square main sail and main topsail; mizzen mast with a lateen sail; bow sprit with a square sail.
The larger carrack looks more fierce to this lubberly eye, with fore and stern castles of several stages. It has 3 masts and bowsprit: fore main and fore top masts with square sails; main and main top masts with square sails; mizzen mast with a lateen sail; bow sprit with a square sail. Ratlines can be seen on the main mast rigging.
Most of the small coastal vessels have spritsails; one has a square sail.

coast line    
coast shaded    

The coast line is shaded.
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Harbours, havens, along the coast are labelled clearly

coastal defence    

dot, circle, pair of towers with flags marks a castle, eg:-
Hurst castel
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Coastal defence castles are shown at Hurst, Calshot, Netley, St Andrew's, Southsey and the blockhouse east of the last. Portsmouth and Southampton are NOT drawn with recorgnisable polygonal fortifications, though town walls and bastions are shown.


Rivers are drawn tapering from their mouth, there is no excessive wiggliness but it clear that rivers are represented; some are named. Some bridges are shewn, some with names. A couple of ferries are labelled.
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Hills are indicated by little hillocks. These are partly grouped, though it is not easy to interpret what they mean. Some hills are made steeper than others; some hills are named.
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A number of beacons are indicated on hills, by little spikes, perhaps representing the beacon posts?
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This map is made 13 years before the Armada in a period when sea invasion was not quite so threatening? Beacons, while they were in place were perhaps not specially regarded; they are not all noticed by the map maker.


The map has definite groups of trees indicating forests, which are mostly named. The forests mostly correspond to the great hunting preserves declared as royal forests; but not all. Trees are also drawn in parks.
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Parks are shown by a ring of fence palings. The park might contain a settlement symbol; it is difficult to know when this indicates a hamlet or village, and when just the house in the park. Most parks are drawn roughly circular, but there are a couple of oddities, that near Clanfield, for example. Some parks are labelled.
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The county boundary is a finely dotted line.
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Contiguous counties area named. The detached part of Hampshire to the east is missed.

Although hundreds remained a useful? administrative unit only 5 of Saxton's 34 county maps show them. This sheet does NOT show the hundreds.
There is an unexplained area delimited by a red dotted line near around Cheriton, Kimston, Beauford, and Tichborn. This is not printed in black, and might have been inserted by the colourist.

Settlements are positioned by a dot and circle, with additions to suggest the sort of settlement. The labelling is nearly all one size of neat, legible, italic lowercase. Names are sometimes in a macaroni of Latin and English, eg:-
Sct Lukes chapell
The a of ...ham is often printed above the hm.
A letter p with a line thro the tail stands for par, eg:-
Fremantel pke
Long poche
A tilde has been used in the transcriptions for a abbreviation mark. There is no table of symbols, and the symbols must be understood with care:-
city     image snip from map

dot, double circle, lots of buildings, cross on highest tower, name in block caps is a city, eg:-

town     image snip from map

dot, double circle, buildings and towers labelled in block caps is a town, eg:-
A larger town has more buildings, eg:-
It is possible to see town walls and bastions at Portsmouth, Southampton and Winchester.

village     image snip from map

dot, circle, church, or at least a tower is a village, eg:-

hamlet     image snip from map

dot, circle, building is a hamlet, or perhaps just a house. The arrangement of building and circle varies, there might be two buildings; nice examples are Lynkenholt, Littleton, Emsworth

house     image snip from map

dot, circle, building with flag is a house, eg:-
Basing House



Windmills are drawn on the map, for example two on Portes down. The mills are post mills with four sails.
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The map has had some very crude alterations to its plate. Perhaps the most blatant 'correction' is the addition of Fordingbridge and Burgate with a village symbol.
Nearby Fordingbridge the Shire Oak, a single named tree, is added at the shire boundary.
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These additions are not well engraved, are rather naive.


Close, Charles, Sir: 1931: Ancient Maps of Great Briatin, with special reference to Hampshire: ProcHFC: vol.10: pp.211-219

Evans, Ifor M & Lawrence, Heather: 1979: Christopher Saxton, Elizabethan Map-Maker: Wakefield Historical Publications & Holland Press (Wakefield, Yorkshire):: ISBN 0 901869 06 6

Fordham, H G, Sir: 1928: Christopher Saxton of Dunningley, his life and work: (Leeds, Yorkshire)

Laxton, Paul:: 250 Years of Mapmaking in the County of Hampshire

Lyam, E: 1950: English Maps and Map Makers of the Sixteenth Century: Geographical J: 106: pp10-14

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HantsMap Notes -- SAXTON1.txt
MN: 27.10.1997
last edit: 11.3.2004