Dury & Andrews’ Map of Hertfordshire

Dury & Andrews’ Map of Hertfordshire by Andrew Macnair, Anne Rowe and Tom Williamson. Oxbow Books, Oxford, 2016. ISBN 978-1-909686-73-1. PB, 238, 84 illus, DVD. STG £35.

Andrew Macnair has been working for several years on creating highly detailed copies of late- eighteenth century large-scale maps of the counties in and around East Anglia – the bulge in the lower east side of a map of England. These are: Norfolk (2005); London (2009); Suffolk (2010); Hertfordshire (2012); Essex (2015); Cambridgeshire is planned for 2016. These are all available as high-quality printed sheets, and in book form for Norfolk and the now recently published Hertfordshire.

The book takes as its starting point the map published by Andrew Dury and John Andrews in 1766, describing its production and its place in the eighteenth-century movement to create large scale county maps (at least one inch to the mile, 1:63,360), and then explains how highly detailed digital re-drawings have been made of the map, ascribing colour codes for differing types of land use and features.

Macnair is unusual in the cartographic world in that he is not looking solely at the creation and history of the maps, but more at just what the maps can tell us regarding the use of the land at the time of these maps. He therefore works with landscape historian Tom Williamson, Professor of Landscape History at the University of East Anglia, and Anne Rowe who is a historian of landscape history specialising in Hertfordshire) to analyse the spread, extent and relationship of differing types of feature – such as woods, parks, mansions, waste land, arable land and even settlement’s names.

There are example illustrations throughout the text as they bring out some of the relationships, generally arising from the varying soil types and land morphology, as well as more traditional copies of contemporary drawings and portraits of key players. There is an excellent section where landmarks as positioned on the 1766 map are compared with those on the modern Ordnance Survey map of the same area, and the initial 1766 map image is stretched and shrunk in order to create a ‘geo-rectified ‘map of the county – showing just how the distortions vary across the county.

The DVD principally contains maps, both as pictures of the original 1766 map and as the digitally re-drawn versions – overall and using their software to show the patterns of land usage and other features of the county. The DVD has nearly two gigabytes of images, which as mainly as high-resolution PDF files can be scaled and moved to let the user see specific and overall features. It also contains further articles on the county maps that were given Royal Society awards; counties which have detailed descriptions written of their large scale maps; and King George III’s involvement in promoting British mapping.

The book is not only a must for anyone who studies maps of Hertfordshire, which is presumably a rather restricted audience, but is also invaluable to those studying other counties in England and indeed, map enthusiasts anywhere who are interested in seeing what can be learnt from considering maps in the times experienced by inhabitants of the land when the map was created. Maps aren’t just for beauty – they are for information as well!

Peter Walker, Saffron Walden, UK