Tel 44 (0)20 7589 4325
Fax 44 (0)20 7589 4325
Email:[email protected]



John Speed: Hereford-shire

Map: HERE192
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: Hereford-shire
Date: 1614
Published: London
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 16 inches / 41 cm
Map ref: HERE192
Herefordshire is one of the more extensive counties of England, renowned for its natural beauty. Its geographical position on the border of Wales ensured its strategic importance during both the conquest of Wales and the Wars of the Roses. Speed repeatedly mentions the castles on the border in his description of the county.

On a panel on the lower centre, Speed does not credit the geography of the map to anyone but himself although it is known that he travelled to the area so he may have obtained local maps as his sources rather than relying on Saxton’s map.

Aesthetically, the map bears all of its decoration on the right. The upper right shows a city plan of Hereford, which is extremely detailed, again suggesting that Speed actually visited the town. The right border shows the coats of arms of various noble and aristocratic families. Finally, there is a vignette of a fierce battle below the city plan, together with a text panel underneath. This vignette illustrates the Battle of Mortimer’s Cross, in 1461, during the Wars of the Roses. It is particularly famous for the dawn appearance of a solar phenomenon known as “parhelion” which made it seem as if three suns were rising on the day of the battle. Edward of York took this as a sign that God was on his side and after his victory in the battle, took the three suns as his symbol and one of his mottoes was “The Sun in Splendour.” Speed immortalises this in the vignette with the three suns overseeing the battle below.

English text on verso. Image available on request. Coloured.