Bodleian display celebrates new map of Oxford's history

18 January 2016

Image of Greyfriars from An Historical Map of Oxford

Oxford's long and complex history has been encapsulated on a map for the very first time, and members of the public can see the new map at the Bodleian Libraries' Maps of Oxford display, which runs from 14-24 January.

The display marks the launch of An Historical Map of Oxford, published this month by the British Historic Towns Trust. This new historical map of Oxford charts the city's development from the Middle Ages to Victorian times. It Image of New College from An Historical Map of Oxfordreveals details of Oxford colleges that have been completely lost over time or radically changed, and shows town buildings that have since vanished such as the butter bench, a meeting place at Carfax that was also used as a dairy stall on market days, and 'the shambles,' a meat market that ran down Queen Street.

The new map is based on the earliest accurate survey of the city published by Ordnance Survey in 1876, which is part of the Libraries' extensive map collection.

'In essence, we've added historical information onto a late-19th century base map to show the city's major medieval and post-medieval buildings, earthworks and defensive structures - including those that have been lost and those that survive today,' said Bodleian Map Librarian Nick Millea. 'Maps like this have never been created before.'

Image of Ralph Agas map of Oxford, Bodleian LibrariesMillea is a trustee of the Historic Towns Trust and helped direct the production of the map. The map's historical content is based on extensive research using the Bodleian Libraries' historical maps and material from the Bodleian's topographical, archaeological and photographic collections.

Visitors can see the new map in the Maps of Oxford display in the Bodleian's Proscholium in the Old Schools Quadrangle. The display also features two exceptional treasures from the Bodleian Libraries' map collection: the oldest surviving map of Oxford, drawn by Ralph Agas in 1578, and David Loggan's Birdseye view of Oxford, a beautifully engraved picture map of the city from 1675.

An Historical Map of Oxford will be on sale in bookshops from 21 January, and will be available to buy in the Old Bodleian Shop in the Old Schools Quadrangle. The map is part of a larger effort to create The British Historic Towns Atlas of Oxford, due to be published in 2017, which will include A2 sheet maps of the city, regional and local maps, an introduction and gazetteer.

Image credits: coloured map - Historic Towns Trust; black and white map - oldest surviving map of Oxford, drawn by Ralph Agas in 1578, Bodleian Libraries.

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