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William Hole: Hiberniae

Map: IRE2018
Cartographer: William Hole
Title: Hiberniae
Date: 1637
Published: London
Width: 13 inches / 34 cm
Height: 11 inches / 28 cm
Map ref: IRE2018
This finely engraved map of Ireland formed part of one of the most important geo-historical works published about the British Isles. “Britannia” by William Camden was first issued in 1586 without any maps and concentrated on a history of Great Britain from the Roman period onwards. Camden was a famous antiquary and scholar who often travelled to the sites which were described in his work. The volume was an immediate success and must have been very lucrative for him as the decision to illustrate it with maps did not happen until 1607 by which time it had gone through five separate editions. This was a major achievement as the book market in the Tudor period was much different than it is today.

Interestingly, this 1607 edition of the Britannia also bears the distinction of being the first work to contain maps of all the individual counties of Britain. Although Christopher Saxton produced the first Atlas of England and Wales, delineating many of the counties individually, in several cases he amalgamated regions together without engraving specific counties.

The Britannia also included a map of Ireland and of Scotland. The map of Ireland is on an East to West orientation and its geographical source is fundamentally Mercator. However, it shows several improvements, mainly from Saxton and Ortelius. The interior shows the counties, or shires, including the Kingdom of Desmond, near Cork as well as the traditional four Kingdoms of Ireland.

Aesthetically, the map is very striking, with several sea monsters present in the sea as well as a galleon. A large compass rose is engraved in the lower left corner and the cartouche, on the lower centre, shows the names by which classical writers knew Ireland.

This is the first English map of Ireland.

Coloured. [IRE2018]