400 year-old Cambridge map displayed in UL digital library

Abby Watson 14 March 2017

A map portraying Cambridge dating from 1575 has been uploaded to the University Library’s digital library.

According to the library this “attractive” map was first published in the second book of the six volume Civitates Orbis Terrarum, published 1572-1617 by George Braun and the engraver Frans Hogenberg.

In the complete work there are 363 plates which portray over 500 towns and cities in Europe but also in Asia, Africa and America.

This map shows Cambridge from the west. Viewers might be able to recognise colleges such as King’s, Trinity, Jesus and Christ’s. One can notice the old castle as well.

A spokesperson commented on the map to the Cambridge News, explaining that maps in this time period would have been bought by the nobility and gentry.

“The plan is not 100 per cent accurate. Many of the churches, for example, appear to have round towers.

“It was printed from a copper printing plate. The image would have been engraved, in reverse, on the copper plate by skilled craftsmen on the continent.

“The engravers would probably have never visited Cambridge and would have been working from hand-drawn maps supplied by someone who also may never have visited the town.

“Once printed the map was coloured by hand.”