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John Speed: Huntingdon: Both Shire and Shire Towne with the Ancient Citie Ely Described

Map: HUNTS227
Cartographer: John Speed
Title: Huntingdon: Both Shire and Shire Towne with the Ancient Citie Ely Described
Date: 1614
Published: London
Width: 22 inches / 56 cm
Height: 17 inches / 44 cm
Map ref: HUNTS227
Speed’s map of Huntingdonshire is a little different than many of his other maps. One of its main features is the path of Watling Street, the old Roman Road that went from Canterbury in Kent to Wroxeter in Shropshire. It is the only one of Speed’s county maps that has an indication of a road marked on it. The map is dominated by the two city plans and multiple decorations, the whole effect emphasizing that this is one of England’s smallest counties.

Geographically, the region is dominated by the Fens, a type of wetlands or swamp which also explains the very small population of the county. The Northern region shows a large region of Fenlands as well as Whittlesey Mere, the largest body of open water in the county, with multiple drainage channels leading to it.

The upper corners show plans of Huntingdon as well as Ely. A panel in the shape of a book under the plan of Ely explains that although Ely is actually in Cambridgeshire, it was so important, especially in view of its magnificent Minster, or Cathedral, that it deserved a place in the atlas. The opposite side panel shows a series of armorial coats of arms with another text panel in the shape of a book explaining the history of the Earldom of Huntingdonshire which was first created by William the Conqueror as a reward for Waltheof, the husband of his niece.

English text on verso. Image available on request. Strong impression.