“The parambulatyon of thys lordshype is not travele”: 450 years on, a digital re-evaluation of Robert Lythe’s survey of Ireland.
Surveyors tasked with measuring and recording the landscape of sixteenth century Great Britain and Ireland had no definitive guide on surveying practice and no comprehensive standardisation or regulation was in place. They rarely recorded the techniques used in their fieldwork and so their field practices are largely a mystery. For today’s historians of cartography who seek to understand why and how maps were made, this leaves a void in our knowledge of early surveying practice. This paper addresses this lacuna in knowledge by testing and applying methods for early map and survey analysis. Marking the 450th anniversary of the culmination of Robert Lythe’s time in Ireland, this fresh inquiry into his survey is approached through the little extant evidence available; correspondence, and what is believed to be a map produced from the survey, the ‘Petworth Map’ (1571), extant at Petworth House Archives. We invert
the standard historical methodology, beginning with the map and tracing back to the survey process, to reveal new evidence of sixteenth-century surveying practices. A mixed-method approach intertwining digital, quantitative and archival sources reveal
fresh insight on Lythe’s survey and highlight how, in re-thinking the methods by which we approach early map analysis, we can learn more about western European mapmaking of the sixteenth-century.
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