A selection of antique maps

The image shows Michael Drayton & William Hole’s Poly-Olbion, 1612 & 1622, The Isle of Anglesey, Carnarvan Shyre, Merioneth Shyre

Poly-Olbion is a topographical poem, divided into thirty songs, describing England and Wales. The poem was written by Michael Drayton (1563–1631) and the eighteen maps were engraved by William Hole (fl. c. 1606–1646). The maps have little of the usual cartographic information but display water nymphs, shepherds, hunters and allegorical symbols. Each map depicts a song from Drayton’s work. The maps, undoubtedly, have a topographical curiosity, the 10,000 line poem, however, may require a more specialist disposition to fully appreciate it.

The Traeth Mawr and Traeth Bach estuaries, either side of Plas Brondanw, were major topographical features on the earliest of maps, and major travel obstacles. Although the Ogilby strip map of 1675 shows a path across the ‘Sands’ the shrewd knew that the wise course was to use ferries or guides.

The memory of the splendour of the lost three mile estuary of the Traeth Mawr – on the shores of which Plas Brondanw would have stood for almost 250 years – still hangs over the area, and the older maps in our small but delightful collection of antique maps of Meirionnydd and sir Gaernarfon by renowned cartographers remind us of the change that Madocks brought about in 1811 with the building of the Cob.

If you would like to see our maps please contact the Curator on post@susanwilliamsellis.org