Oxford Atlas Volume published


After many years work and an almost unimaginable amount of careful scholarly research on behalf of Alan Crossley and his team (led by Julian Munby and Malcolm Graham), we're delighted to announce that the latest volume of British Historic Towns Atlas is being published this week (6th December 2021). 

The atlas is a major contribution to the understanding of Oxford's topographical development and brings together information gleaned from documentary, mapped and archaeological sources.  For the first time, the development of Oxford, as a town and then later a city, has been shown on a series of maps, with an accompanying text which explains what the maps show.  The volume also contains reproductions of some of the well-known historic maps depicting Oxford at various times since the 16th century, and many pages of illustrations.

The atlas has been supported by a patient group of donors and sponsors, and we must record our considerable gratitude to them for their generous donations and their patience in waiting for the volume to come out. 

The atlas is available through all good book shops and on-line retailers.  There is a discount for orders placed with the publisher, Oxbow, if ordered up to about a month after publication.


Historical Map of Canterbury wins a prize


Canterbury Archaeological Trust’s Research Officer, Dr Jake Weekes, received the John and Peggy Hayes Canterbury Award 2021 for his work on the new Historical Map of Canterbury, from Roman Times to 1907, presented by the Lord Mayor in September. Also recognised with an award for work on the map was Canterbury Christ Church University’s post-grad in Cartography, Alfie Day, and Jake collected the award on his behalf and it was presented to Alfie during the launch of the map at Waterstones, Canterbury, on Tuesday 30th November.


The official Canterbury launch of the map took place at Waterstones on 30 November 2021 when Jake Weekes gave an entertaining talk about the map, how it was made and some of the issues involved.  The occasion was also used for launching a project to fund the Canterbury Historical Atlas project. All proceeds from map sales (and it is selling well) after printing costs are going towards production of the atlas volume.



Apart from Jan Pahl on the right (another official awarder of the prizes), the other people in this group shot are receiving last year’s award on behalf of the [Canterbury] City Tour Guides, with whom Jake Weekes hopes to discuss more partnership work. The City Guides also have connections with other Canterbury heritage groups, including Canterbury Historical and Archaeological Society.


Historical Map of Coventry now published

The new Historical Map of Coventry has been published and is now available to buy. Coventry is the UK City of Culture 2021 and events (postponed because of the pandemic) have now started in earnest.

The map was launched at an in-person event in November 2021 with much interest from the people of Coventry.





Derek Keene, former HTT Trustee

It's with great sadness that we note the death of Professor Derek Keene who was for a long time a trustee of the Historic Towns Trust and the co-editor of the volume on Winchester.  A historian of international renown, his contribution to the Trust was great and he will be much missed by colleagues and friends.

An obituary and appreciation of Derek Keene by current trustee Prof Matthew Davies appears on the website of the Institute of Historical Research.

Historical Map of Canterbury now published

Canterbury is one of England’s best-known and most visited cities. It is also one of its most historic.

Founded before the Roman conquest, the city became a Roman provincial capital with a theatre and temple complex. After Augustine arrived in 597, Canterbury was a key Christian centre and eventually the seat of England’s premier archbishop. Following the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in the cathedral in 1170, it was a focus of European pilgrimage. After the Reformation it became a centre of trade and commerce and a regional capital as well as continuing to be a major church centre.

The map is the result of a collaboration with Canterbury Arcaheological Trust and Canterbury Christ Church University.  The challenge has been to show the palimpsest that is Canterbury in a clear way, illustrating the way that the city has developed over the many centuries since its foundation.  The map reverse carries an extensive essay on Roman Canterbury's development as well as details of its historic sites.

More details can be found here.  The map can be ordered from your favourite book retailer.


Map of Bristol in 1480 published

A map of Bristol in 1480 was published before just before Christmas 2020.  It's been a year-long project to produce a map of the city described by William Worcestre on a visit to his sister, and to his native town, in 1480.  He carefully recorded the dimensions of the buildings and their functions, allowing us to re-create what the city looked like.  Added to his description, we have archaeological and documentary evidence of buildings and - remarkably - there is still a layer of medieval Bristol to be discovered today.

The map has been compiled by a team of historians and archaeologists, including the former and current Bristol City Archaeologists.  The map carries a very comprehensive gazetteer of the sites shown on it, giving a short history of each of them. It also has a fascinating section detailing and explaining the different types of townhouses that Bristol had in its early years.

More details can be found here.  The map can be ordered from your favourite book retailer.



Map of Tudor London revised and reprinted

The Map of Tudor London has been reprinted and has been available again since early March 2020.  We've taken the opportunity to review and revise it and undertaken some minor corrections.  There are additional names to streets in Southwark, and the Tower of London has been revised to better reflect the layout and names (for example of towers on the curtain wall) which were there in 1520. We have added street markets as well.  The directory of streets and buildings on the reverse has also been updated to reflect the additional information we have included.

The map is available from all good bookshops and on-line retailers with a RRP of £9.99.


Ambitious plans for more atlases

The Trust has ambitious plans to produce atlases of a large number of towns and cities across Great Britain, and to address the relative lack of towns in Wales and Scotland that have been covered to date.  A long list of possible towns and cities has been drawn up, including not only Welsh and Scottish towns but industrial cities in the north of England.  We are now looking at which of those may be suitable for further research and which may lend themsleves to an atlas project.  For an atlas to be produced, a local team has to be assembled and money raised to pay for its production. Given that an atlas costs of the order of £80,000 to £100,000 to produce, each project that we embark on has to be accompanied by a substantial fund-raising campaign, and running such a campaign takes time and patience. We hope that the next atlas in the series will be of Canterbury, as noted above.

The Trust is also set to embark on a substantial fundraising campaign to increase its core capital, to fund the administration and project management that accompanies its work and which has grown as its output has also increased. To that end, we are delighted that Dr Alice Prochaska has joined the trustees to help head development and fundraising.  Dr Prochaska was until recently Principal of Somerville College, Oxford and is also an historian of international repute.  We are delighted that she has offered to lend her substantial experience and expertise to the Trust.

Using atlas material

The Historic Towns Trust is always pleased when researchers use maps from the Historic Towns Atlas volumes for research and illustrative purposes.  Recently, we've given permission to use two maps of Cambridge from volume II to be adapted as illustrations for a collection of essays on Commemoration in Medieval Cambridge. We've also been asked if the map of London in 1520 can be used and enhanced with additional information on legal inns in the Holborn area.

Further details on how to ask permission for use of maps can be found here.  If it's for a legitimate purpose that complements the HTT's charitable aims, we usually say 'yes'!