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John Speed: Caermarden Both Shyre and Towne Described

Map: WCTS1281
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: Caermarden Both Shyre and Towne Described
Date: 1676
Published: London
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 15 inches / 39 cm
Map ref: WCTS1281
Caermarden or modern Carmarthenshire is an important Welsh historical county. During Speed’s time in the early 17th century, it was one of the largest counties in the country and notable for its rebellious inhabitants, both during the original conquest of Wales under Edward I and later during the rebellion of Owen Glendower in the 15th century. Its major town is Carmarthen, which contained a substantial castle.

Speed derives much of his geography from Christopher Saxton, but as usual, adds an inset of the town of Carmarthen, on this occasion on the upper left. The plan emphasizes the size of the castle and also portrays the dominance of the structure in relation to the surrounding town. The opposite upper corner bears a large armorial coat of arms belonging to England and the lower right corner shows a further shield bearing four lions, the Welsh coat of arms. Above the latter, a large compass rose has been drawn.

Although the county has a coastline, it is quite small and Speed has been unable to add any of his usual marine embellishments.

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