John Ogilby, Britannia (1675)

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John Ogilby (1600-1676) was Scottish translator and cartographer.

Britannia (1675)

Britannia is arguably Ogibly's best known work. It depicts a series of "Strip Maps" with an accompanying itinerary for each map. They are available in the public domain here. Rather than depicting a "map" as we might understand it, the Strip Maps display carefully annotated routes between major towns and cities.

Plates I, II and III, for example, depict the route from London to Aberystwyth. Because the Strip Maps are almost like a set of visual directions, we are treated to natural waymarkers such as fields, hills, and forests, as well as man-made features such as bridges, churches, and windmills. Forks in the road and appropriate turnings are also indicated, and supplemented by the detailed itineraries. Ogibly also measures the journey by units of distance giving us the opportunity to physically "map" the routes and cross reference them with other surviving sources.

Although the map depicts a predominantly vertical "road" map, Ogibly also displays compass points along the way as an additional travelling aid.

John Cruickshank recommends Gordon Dickinson's 2019 publication,[1] as it 'discusses in detail the sources and reliability of the Ogilby maps as a resource for study of the developing road network, and although it under-recognises the importance of enclosure by agreement (as opposed to Parliamentary enclosure) in shaping the road network it is still fundamental'.


With funding from Cambridge Digital Humanities, we have commissioned the high-resolution digitisation of all 100 maps in Cambridge University Library's copy of Ogilby's first edition of Britannia. We will annotate images delivered by an IIIF server.

(Insert pictures with annotations of how we would use the source here)

  1. Gordon C. Dickinson, Britannia's Roads; An Introduction to the Strip Maps of John Ogilby's Britannia, 1675, ed. David I. Bower, (Leeds, 2019)