Old Hampshire Mapped


The Old English Mile

statute mile  The earliest statutory definition of a mile in England is almost by accident.
An Acte againste newe Buyldinges
Act 35 Elizabeth I cap 6 1592/93
prohibiting building work within three miles of the gates of the City of London, laid down in passing that:-
1 mile = 8 furlongs
1 furlong = 40 rods
1 rod = 16 1/2 feet
This local ordinance had wider influence, and the by-the-by definition of a statute mile spread slowly throught England and wider. It only became universal in the country with the all encompassing act for weights and measures
Act 5 George IV cap 74 1824
A reminder:-
1 mile = 8 furlongs
= 80 chains
= 1760 yards
= 5280 feet
1 furlong = 10 chains
= 220 yards
= 660 feet
1 chain = 22 yards
= 66 feet
1 yard = 3 feet



old english mile 

The Old English Mile?

Up to tudor times, and beyond, there was uncertainty as to what a mile was; except in the mind of the person telling you how far it was from place to place. There were at least two contradictory concepts of 'a mile'. The miles was either 8 furlongs of 40 rods; or 5000 feet, the feet being natural feet, english or roman. Reading old records and measuring of old map scales can be confusing and difficult.

Arnold's Chronicle, 1502
XVI fote and a half makith a perch as is a boue said, that is V yardis and half, VIC foote by fife score to the C making a furlong, that is XXXVIII perchis sauf II fote, VIII furlong make an English myle, that is VM foote and so IIC and III perchis also an English myle
so:-

Arnold has, a perch being much the same as a rod:-
1 perch = 5 1/2 yards
= 16 1/2 feet
then a furlong is defined:-
1 furlong = 600 feet
but also:-
1 furlong = 38 perches - 2 feet
= 625 feet
and then the mile:-
1 mile = 8 furlong (4800 or 5000 feet)
= 303 perches (4999 1/2 feet)
= 5000 feet
and the feet are not the length we expect today. The natural foot seems to have been about 9.9 inches.

This is a typical confusion around the subject of the mile. The topic is discussed at length in the reference sources; go read them.



a mile 

A Mile

The name 'mile' is from Latin milliarus/miliare - a thousand, or Latin milliarum/miliarium - a milestone, implying mille passuum, 1000 paces each of 5 roman feet (about 11.65 modern inches). The roman mile was divided into 8 stadia of 125 paces, 625 feet. But the roman mile is not the old English mile.

There are many plausible suggestions for the source of our modern statute mile, none is proven. Connor suggests the most plausible is a norman mile, imported from France after the Conquest, 1066.



map miles 

Map Maker's Miles

Early map makers and compilers of itineraries have used a mile commonly referred to, nowadays, as the 'old English mile'. Various maps and itineraries have been studied in the past to get an estimate of what this unit might have been. The examples below have been found in various publications; these are not our estimates.
source old mile = statute miles
Gough map of England 1.3
William of Worcester's Itineraries, 1477-1480 1.5
Chronycle of Yeres, 1544, tabulations
of town to town distances 1.3
Mercator, map of England ..., 1564 1.18
Saxton, map of Hampshire, 1565 1.22
Wiliam Smith, Particular Description
of England, 1588, tabulations 1.25
William Harrison, Description of
Britain, 1577, tabulations 1.25
Blaeus' map of England 1.12
All the figures are averages and approximate. In many cases the presumed accuracy of 1 in 100 in not supported by the evidence.

Some of Gibson's maps (Morden's?) of 1695 had three scale lines corresponding to about 1.29, 1.17, and 1.07 statute miles. The ratio of these is about 10:9:8 and Flinders Petries suggests they are customary miles of 10, 9 and 8 furlongs.


However, there does seem to be an 'old English mile' and we can only estimate its size. It was about 1.2 to 1.3 modern statute miles.



Hampshire 

OLD HAMPSHIRE MAPPED

The study of maps in the Old Hampshire Mapped project includes measuring the positions of some towns and villages. This was initially done to enable the fitting of the National Grid to old maps as an indexing tool. But the data can also provide estimates of the maps' scales. Firstly the distances between places can be compared with known distances calculated from grid refrences - ignoring the curvature of the earth and the map projection used as being insignificant in the bounds of the county. This gives an estimate of a map's scale in statute miles. Secondly, if there is one, the map's scale line, or lines, can be used to estimate what the map maker's mile was. A comparison with the scale in statute miles gives an estimate of the size of the map miles; an estimate of the Old English Mile being used by the map maker.

The measurements are mostly based 21 towns. About 200 distances to be calculated per map; a computer program DISTTAB.exe has been written to help! Although the distances are not independent the estimates are treated as such, and simply averaged. The map positions were measured either to the nearest mm, but mostly using scanned images at 300dpi (dot per inch) ie to about 1/300th of an inch.

For a large map this provides very accurate distances; for a thumbnail the errors are greater. The problem of locating a town is discussed in the notes for OLDMAPS.exe - the computer program which works out the positioning of the national grid on old maps.

Map Miles v Statute Miles; Hampshire

map maker date old english mile
in statute miles
Saxton 1575 1.25
Norden 1595 1.24
Keer 1605 1.25
Norden 1607 1.24
Speed 1611 1.22
Bill 1626 1.31
Jenner 1643 1.10
Blaeu 1645 1.26
Jansson 1646 1.23
Ogilby 1675 1.01
Morden 1676 1.15
Seller 1694 1.26
Morden 1695 1.23
Bowen 1720 1.26
Moll 1724 1.10
Hutchinson 1748 1.13
Kitchin 1751 0.97
Taylor 1759 1.02
Hogg 1784 1.03
Milne 1791 0.98
Harrison 1788 1.00
Tunnicliff 1791 1.01
Faden 1796 0.98
Cole and Roper 1810 1.09
Greenwood 1826 0.98
Pigot 1828 1.06
Greenwood 1829 0.99
Moule 1836 0.99
Brannon 1859 0.98
MacKenzie 1893 1.00

Similarity between early makers must be expected; they copied each other. The later makers were using the statute mile. The range of values is mostly within the limits of my confidence, and the range of variation of paper dimensions as humidity changes over day by day.

Notice the mile used by John Ogilby, a statute mile, just as he claims. He also used customary miles, for the distances to places off the road, and was quite honest about this, though he did not say what length these miles were.

Map Miles v Statute Miles

Some examples of the detail results from DISTTAB.exe:-

Saxton's Hampshire, 1575

The average scale is 3.78 statute miles to 1 inch, ie 1 to 239618
The range of scales is from 2.48 to 5.61 statute miles to 1 inch.

The map scale is about:-
     1 to 240000
      4 statute miles to 1 inch


From its scale line (1), the map scale is 3.02 map miles to 1 inch.
Map miles = 1.25 statute miles.


Norden's Hampshire, 1607

The measured average scale is 5.93 statute miles to 1 inch, ie 1 to 375770
The range of scales is from 3.83 to 7.72 statute miles to 1 inch.

The map scale is about:-
     1 to 380000
      6 statute miles to 1 inch


From its scale line (1), the map scale is 4.78 map miles to 1 inch.
Map miles = 1.24 statute miles.


Taylor's Hampshire, 1759

The measured average scale is 1.02 statute miles to 1 inch, ie 1 to 64691
The range of scales is from 0.75 to 1.56 statute miles to 1 inch.

The map scale is about:-
     1 to 65000
      1 statute miles to 1 inch


From its scale line (1), the map scale is 1.00 map miles to 1 inch.
Map miles = 1.02 statute miles.


Milne's Hampshire, 1791

The measured average scale is 0.99 statute miles to 1 inch, ie 1 to 62764
The range of scales is from 0.90 to 1.08 statute miles to 1 inch.

The map scale is about:-
     1 to 63000
      1 statute miles to 1 inch


From its scale line (1), the map scale is 1.02 map miles to 1 inch.
Map miles = 0.98 statute miles.


Greenwood's Hampshire, 1829

The measured average scale is 3.05 statute miles to 1 inch, ie 1 to 193233
The range of scales is from 2.82 to 3.35 statute miles to 1 inch.

The map scale is about:-
     1 to 190000
      3 statute miles to 1 inch


From its scale line (1), the map scale is 3.09 map miles to 1 inch.
Map miles = 0.99 statute miles.


Brannon's Hampshire, 1859

The measured average scale is 3.05 statute miles to 1 inch, ie 1 to 193103
The range of scales is from 2.78 to 3.53 statute miles to 1 inch.

The map scale is about:-
     1 to 190000
      3 statute miles to 1 inch


From its scale line (1), the map scale is 3.10 map miles to 1 inch.
Map miles = 0.98 statute miles.



references

REFERENCES

Close, Charles, Sir: 1930: Old English Mile: Geographical Journal: vol.76: pp.338-342

Connor, R D: 1987: Weights and Measures of England: HMSO & Science Museum (London):: ISBN 0 11 290435 1

de Morgan: 1883=1843: [article]: Penny Cyclopaedia

Flinders Petrie, W M: 1882=1884: Old English Mile: Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: vol.12: pp.254-266

Karslake, J B P: 1931: Further Notes on the Old Englsh Mile: Geographical Journal: vol.77: pp.358-360


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