Prefatory note: I wrote this last summer as part of an intensive course in cartographic manuscripts at the University of London. I’ve held vague hopes of publishing it some day, but to truly finish it would require trips to Kew, the British Library, and the University of Sussex, which will not happen any time too soon. Written as it was to meet the stringent standards of the London Rare Book School, I’m afraid it’s a quite humorless piece of work, and at times indulges in the excess of what Nietzsche derided as “antiquarian history” in his Untimely Meditations. But those aware of my recurring critical concerns – melancholy, decay, hauntology, class struggle, spectral Albion – will see traces of them herein. (I even managed to smuggle in a reference to Boards of Canada by speaking of “the past inside the present.”)
John Norden (c. 1547-1625) was one of the eminent figures in the great flourishing of English mapmaking heralded by the work of Christopher Saxton, who completed the nation’s first atlas in 1579. Norden was patronized (if not enriched by) the eminent Lord Burleigh, of Queen Elizabeth’s Privy Council, for whom he produced a number of well-regarded maps and chorographies which continued to be used and copied for centuries; he tirelessly surveyed all corners of the country, produced the classic manual on surveying, and was so highly regarded in this regard that even as he entered his seventies the Prince of Wales would consider no other man to perform the work he needed done (Kitchen). Norden also produced a large body of hugely popular devotional writing. Despite these achievements, his life and work remain little known outside specialist circles. His only satisfactory biographer, Frank Kitchen, completed his (unpublished) work on Norden as late as the 1990s.
In light of this dearth of attention, my choice in this paper to focus on a fleeting detail – the sign for “decayed places” that appears in several of his keys, and the relevant passages from his texts – may seem puzzling. My first aim is simply to correct the historical record on the point, which as we will see, has been inaccurately and incompletely rendered. But my further intention is to reposition these cartographic representations of decay as a hinge connecting the map key to Norden’s place within Tudor cartography and the great ideological battles of the day. In doing so, I will – hopefully – add a new dimension to the study of his work. Since this subject of decay in Norden’s maps has not been properly addressed before, this paper has the character of a prolegomena. A fuller analysis would need to consider, among other things, Norden’s devotional writing, which for considerations of space I have been unable to fully engage herein.
John Norden and His Innovations
Norden had several motivations for the massive undertaking that was the Speculum Brittaniae, a quixotic and ultimately failed attempt to duplicate and expand upon Saxton’s precedent: the county-by-county English atlas. Partly, it was inspired by a temperamental antiquarianism and a personal taste for the encyclopedic. Edward Lynam writes that Norden was spurred on by that “patriotic enthusiasm for local history and antiquities which was in the spirit of the age” (Lynam 15). Such enthusiasms could not be fully satisfied by the existing sources, which Norden felt were inadequate, for various reasons: Saxton’s maps lacked roads, for instance, and William Camden’s Britannia was in Latin and therefore inappropriate for a general reader (the latter being a fairly recent category). Norden’s Speculum, generically, is more similar to Camden than Saxton: he is writing chorographical descriptions that also include maps, rather than producing maps which also include glosses (Delano-Smith;Lynam 15). Nevertheless, he brought some crucial innovations to the practice of English cartography, namely: the addition of roads, the development of an alphanumeric marginal grid, and the inclusion of a key.
The keys in the Speculi are not uniform, and some, depending on the engraver, lack them entirely. This is especially true of the maps made using Norden’s surveys after his death. In general, they contain a handful of essential features of human (not natural) cartography: settlements of various types, houses of the nobility, churches, etc. (see Figure 1 below). Many of these would become standard in maps over the coming centuries, but even these can be considered ideologically fraught. J.B. Harley notes that only one of the staunchly Anglican Norden’s maps includes Bishop’s Sees, and that it pointedly uses “a curious starlike symbol rather than a cross (a papal symbol abhorred by some protestants)” (Harley 249). But Norden’s keys have even greater idiosyncrasies, what Catherine Delano-Smith has called “the more arcane aspects” of Norden’s maps (Delano-Smith 73). Notable among these are the signs for “chapels of ease,” “an ecclesiastical category found on no other English, or European, printed topographical map,” and for “decayed places,” elsewhere called “places ruinate and decayed” (Delano-Smith 74).
This is a unique moment in cartographic history: after the meaning of signs was either assumed or explained orally, but before the proliferation of printed maps to a mass audience led to a gradual conventionality of signs (Delano-Smith 12). The result was a rich, idiosyncratic, and sometimes chaotic abundance of signs; Saxton, for instance, used five different signs for “park” (Tyacke). Norden’s iconography was, almost as a matter of course, highly influential; Lyman writes that he “should like to suggest, though…cannot prove, that our present symbol for a battlefield, two crossed swords, derives from the picture of the Battle of Barnet on this map, where two ranks of swordsmen clash” (19). But the “arcane” signs lack such a lineage, and continue to puzzle.
To question the “purpose” of such inclusions is to question the purpose of the maps themselves. J.B. Harley offers a schematic in which the “practical uses” of county maps include: “Westminster bureaucracy; national defence; county administration; regional trade and way finding; ‘decoration’” (Harley). The decayed places and chapels of ease do not fit easily into any of these categories, and lend themselves to ambiguity. Maps from this point forth necessarily contain an abundance of meaning due to large and/or variegated audiences. Catherine Delano-Smith referred to such maps as “multi-purpose maps,” “made to satisfy a diverse, largely unknown and impersonal market and available for a multitude of uses” (Delano-Smith and Kain 53). Norden was aware of, and frustrated by, how unwieldy such an audience could be. In the Preparative to the Speculum, “some (besides the more special things) will have all houses of name of any account, as also such as are decayed, being of antiquity to be observed,” revealing that his minor details were in fact being observed and debated. It also suggests the possibility that the inclusion of ruins was simply a symptom of an obsessive perfectionism that led him to include everything he observed. As he says (in a remark that gestures toward the totalizing archive fever of modernity): “The more things (I take it) are observed, the more like is the description to the thing described” (Norden 18).
But, of course, so far from allowing for such absolute mimesis, Norden’s semiotic field is rather spare by modern standards, and the oddities are all the more salient for that reason. If the presence of chapels of ease is curious, the inclusion of “decayed places” borders on the mystifying. Why, in an era of triumphalism, expansionism, and what W.G. Hoskins called the “great rebuilding,” would a cartographer focus on ruination, especially in a map that ostensibly aims to be purely practical? Is Norden’s emphasis on decay an early forerunner of the famous Jacobean melancholy? Is his impulse toward memorialization an instance of the perennial English longing for a lost Arcadia – the preoccupation of writers from Philip Sidney to Oliver Goldsmith, from Thomas Hardy to the Kinks and Iain Sinclair? Most basically, what does Norden even mean by the phrase? These were the questions that inspired my research, but Norden’s Speculum proves to be a coy mistress, with no forthright answers on these points.
Figure 1. Detail of map key from the Description of Middlesex
The existing consensus, so far as one could be said to exist on such a seemingly arcane point, is that Norden was identifying deserted villages. Indeed, this point was used as an example by Catherine Delano Smith and Kain, and J.B. Harley, of the way in which maps reflect and refract the social and political milieus from which they arise. This is, I think, axiomatic, and I concur that what I will call Norden’s cartography of decay is a rich lens through which to approach Tudor ideology.
I will argue that Norden’s “decayed places” were not “deserted villages” at all, but a graduated spectrum of “ruinate” traces upon the landscape. However, the supposition that he was mapping deserted villages is, superficially, a sensible one, and proves a useful foil to my own argument. The representation of deserted villages in maps was not unknown at the time. Maurice Beresford writes that a 1583 map of “Fallowfield” in Northumberland “may be claimed as the earliest cartographic representation of a desertion,” and there is a trickle of other examples from the following two decades (Beresford 49). The true extent of such mapping is impossible to judge, since most deserted villages show up only adventitiously in maps of other locales. For instance, the British Library contains an estate map of Chilton, Suffolk, which shows a forlorn church surrounded by empty fields – the site of a lost village (Chilton MS). Beresford writes that “direct description of the appearance of deserted sites in the period between Charles I and the Ordnance Survey maps is usually confined to the verbal,” in the works of writers like Sir William Dugdale and John Bridges. It is not until the eighteenth century that “depopulated places” were systematically marked and mapped, as they are in Henry Beighton’s 1725 Map of Warwickshire (Beresford 49ff). If John Norden were explicitly mapping deserted villages on a scale larger than the individual estate, he would thus be alone among pre-18th century cartographers. Before discussing the possible implications of this, a few words on the context of such desertions are needed.
Village Desertion in Tudor England
Village desertion or depopulation was relatively common in the medieval and early Tudor period, and happened for a variety of reasons. Coastal towns were subject to erosion. The Black Death wiped out many villages entirely or made them unsustainable for the survivors. Population decline in the 14th century, due mostly to plague, led people back from marginal lands they colonized in earlier times out of desperation (Beresford 7ff).
The most controversial means by which villages were depopulated, though, was derived from broad macroeconomic and demographic trends. The sixteenth century witnessed an unprecedented growth in population and corresponding economic inflation. The expanded labor market combined with rising prices meant a depression of real wages and an erosion of living standards for the small but growing portion of the population reliant on wage labor. But inflation’s effect on the aristocracy and the gentry was a spur to truly revolutionary changes in agrarian culture. The decline in the value of money lead to a relative erosion of income, living standards, and social position of the landed classes, who at this time still had many legal and moral/social restrains on their ability to exploit conditions to their advantage (Hindle 42; Wrightson).
Steve Hindle details the four responses available to landowners, all of which contributed to the great upheavals of the century and also the explosive growth of a new, capitalist economy. The first was to modernize estate management, to limit encroachments, assure proper taxation, prosecute infractions more severely, etc. The crucial figure here was the surveyor, and our John Norden was among the most famous and important surveyors of the time. Another response was to shorten leases, which were often granted for as long as 99 years on the assumption of little or no inflation; more nefarious methods of lease-alteration were also employed, as in instances in which copyhold leases were doctored or converted to leaseholds or freeholds.
Landowners also “took to the direct farming or leasing of their demesne, especially for the rearing of large flocks of sheep, in order to take advantage of rising prices and falling labour costs” (Hindle 3). The rising value of wool vis-à-vis the nascent textile industry incentivized raising land for pasture, or, most controversially, converting arable land to pasture land. This was the “fourth and most notorious” of the methods used by landlords to counteract changing economic circumstances. These conversions lead to nothing less than “the piecemeal extinction of common rights, especially those that permitted the grazing of livestock on, and taking of fuel from, wastes, forest and fen” (Hindle 46). These disruptive enclosures led Thomas More to bemoan an age in which “sheep eat men.” (The mapmaker John Speed, a descendent and often simple embellisher of Norden and Saxton, et al, repeated More’s complaint, saying that the gentle creatues had “now become so ravenous, that they begin to devour men, waste fields, and depopulate houses, if not whole townships” ). Sir William Cholmeley similarly complained, in 1553, of the “unsatiable desyre of pasture for sheep and cattel” that was eating up rural England (Hoskins 138). Villagers who thrived on labor-intensive arable lands were now dislocated; many moved to the cities, but many others had nowhere to go. The proliferation of “vagabonds and rogues” was one of the obsessions and fears of the age.
It must be said that this was not a new phenomenon – in fact, by 1600, the map of England was not substantially different than it is today (Nicolson and Hawkyard 8). By 1500, almost half of land was already “enclosed,” and further such manorial enclosures became increasingly rare as the century progressed. (Of course, enclosure came back with a vengeance in later centuries, in the Parliamentary enclosures which have received much more scholarly attention). After c. 1520, the type of enclosure that produced total depopulation was seldom practiced (Beresford 17). John Leland frequently mentions enclosed land in his Itinerary of 1535-1543, and begins his section on Somerset with this remark: “Al this way pastures and feeldes be much enclosid with hegge rowes of elmes” (Leland 157). All of this is to say that Norden’s experience of depopulation was mediated by both space and time. Enclosure was always relatively rare in most of the country, but had a significant impact in certain regions at certain times, particularly in the Midlands and Yorkshire, but its import in the popular imagination was great, and outrage over the phenomenon was integral to a number of Tudor and Stuart rebellions (Hoskins 142, Beresford 46ff). Consider the 1607 Midlands rising, which spawned a tract called The Diggers of Warwickshire to all other Diggers. This text condemns “incroaching Tirants [who] onely for theyr owne private gain…have depopulated and overthrown whole townes, and made thereof sheep pastures, nothing profitable to our Commonwealth” (Jenkins 11).
John Norden and Agrarian Politics
In that same year, John Norden, in his popular Surveyors Dialogue, wrote that every manor is “a little commonwealth, whereof the tenants are the members, the Lord the body, and the law the head.” This claim, in the context of an era in which the meaning and ethics of “commonwealth” were constantly and often violently contested, is rather extraordinary, and is indicative of what Norden viewed as the ideal. But he was not always so naïve. His position on the agrarian upheavals of his time was, as for many others, ambivalent. As his biographer Frank Kitchen writes, Norden “was keen to maximize the potential of a parcel of land, although only within the tradition that sustained the existing social order.” Thus “he approved of enclosure but not the conversion of arable to pasture, which caused local depopulation” (Kitchen 53).
But he was certainly in favor of the modernization of agriculture, and celebrated rather than lamented the radical new direction England had taken. Consider this statement on the virtues of enclosure, from the Dialogue:
I do [approve of enclosure], and think it the most beneficial course that Tenants can take, to increase their abilities: for one acre enclosed, is worth one and a half in Common, if the ground be fitting thereto: and if the wastes and unprofitable commons in England were enclosed and proportionally allotted, it would feed many more people by good manurance than any one shire in England. (Norden 144)
This idea is quite radical and forward thinking, and anticipates the more thoroughgoing enclosure movement of the eighteenth century.
The enthusiasm for the well-kept manor evidenced here is in contradiction to the anti-aristocratic ethos of the Diggers or even, less stridently, Thomas More. He speaks at times of the “decay” of manors and manor houses themselves, which is more than remarkable for our purposes here. This is a narrative of decay and depredation in which the landed gentry are not culprits but victims. Indeed, for Norden, the pleasant manor is a kind of ideal, and mere villagers can often be an inconvenient impediment: “things granted by custody, woods, houses, or land, are very ill used,” he wrote, “by reason of the uncertain determination of such estates; and many such grants are now held as freehold, which were they duly seen, observed, and found out, they would yield his [Majesty] a great revenue” (Norden 1840,xliii). Norden wrote lugubriously, in a letter to Lord Salisbury, of the “abuses practiced by the tenants of the king’s manors” which led to the debasement of estates, left with “dottarde and decayde trees” (Norden 1840, xxii).
It must be remembered that Norden, as a surveyor, was hardly a neutral observer of the changing dynamics of agrarian England (Stone 311). He was, indeed, an integral part of them, and his lack of sentimentality about the social ruptures caused by the revolution in agrarian life might be explained by simple self-interest (Smith 43; Kitchen 43). As Delano-Smith and Kain write, “perhaps not disinterestedly, surveyors were both advocates of capitalist farming on enclosed land and promoters of the cadastral map as a means to attain this state” (125).
Even if Norden was motivated by self-interest, he defended his position with sophistication and panache. He addressed the conflicts head-on in his Surveyor’s Dialogue of 1607, which had an irate farmer lambaste the surveyor thusly:
…oftentimes you are the cause that men lose their Land: and sometimes they are abridged of such liberties as they have long used in manors: and customs are altered, broken, or sometimes perverted or taken away by your means: And above all, you look into the values of men’s Lands, whereby the Lords of Manors do rack their Tenants to a higher rent and rate than ever before: and therefore not only I, but many poor Tenants else have good cause to speak against the profession. (Norden 4)
It would be a stretch, at best, to claim that Norden had much sympathy for such views, which are swiftly debunked in the text. As D.K. Smith writes, “the main thrust of the manual, written as it is by an established surveyor, is to refute the farmer’s arguments and assuage his complaints” (Smith 51). This view is reinforced by the fact that the marginal note for this passage – which functions as an authoritative, monologic voice outside and above of the ambiguous play of dialogic discourse – reads “The pretended causes why Surveyors are condemned” (my italics).
Other arguments against farmers’ discontent are even more extreme, and position Norden firmly on the side of the gentry. The surveyor alleges that price inflation was the result of a conspiracy of farmers arranging things for their own benefit, and that the apparent decline in the standard of living among the rural population was in fact a symptom of profligacy and decadence: “there is at this day thirty times as much vainly spent in a family of like multitude and quality, as was in former ages” (24). That Norden also articulates the farmer’s side with such passion is best understood as a testament to his literary and rhetorical prowess. Nevertheless, the very existence of this text evidences the prevalence of cultural anxieties related to the profession of surveying, which Norden felt he needed to address at length (Smith 51).
With these concerns in mind, one can see why the presence of representations of deserted villages on Norden’s maps would be startling. Why would an agent and ally of the new economic order memorialize the collateral damage its coming had wrought? Why would a text addressed to and concerned with the aristocracy remind them of the dislocations suffered by the peasantry? Would it be a subversive admission of guilt, an act of penance by a man who was, after all, exceptionally devout? I do not think there is a single, simple explanation that ties together the disparate “ruinate” locations, and so I will tread through Norden’s Speculum, discussing the examples individually before offering a tentative thesis on the greater significance of decay in Norden’s oeuvre.
The Speculum Britanniae
Though it was his earliest effort, the map of Northamptonshire was never engraved, and exists only in manuscript. It is nonetheless worth discussing here, as it prefigures the way Norden presents his later work, and how he deals with the subject of decay. The text is, more or less, in line with what would follow in the further installments. There is a list of place names with a guide to their location on the map. There is a long (and often tedious) discussion of toponymy, and a description of the county focusing on the pleasantness of the air, soil, and towns, and the greatness of its nobility and gentry. There is a general history, which goes back to the very fuzzy and often semi-mythical pre-Roman period (cf. Middlesex, which takes things back to the flood ). These histories are never parochial, but focus on events of national importance, often of a military nature.
The most direct comment on ruin and decay in the chorography of Northamptonshire occurs in the description of Daventry, and is instructive: “There was sometime a fair Monastery suppressed by Cardinal Wolsey. It is greatly defaced, yet so much standeth as giveth Entertainment unto a Gentleman of some Account named, as I take it, Mr. Roper” (48). Norden passes over the great upheavals of the reign of Henry VIII in virtual silence. The dissolved monastery is perhaps the largest category of ruins Norden would be able to witness, but – being anti-Catholic – does so with relative detachment. Indeed, few contemporaries were particularly interested in these sites as monuments (Nicolson 8). Norden was, but in a gesture that anticipates the 18th century obsession with “sham ruins,” he conceives of them as and aestheticizes them as picturesque toys of the nobility.
Norden’s Description of Middlesex, the first part of his Speculum to actually be published (in 1593), was a considerably more ambitious work, containing not only a county map but detailed maps of London and Westminster as well. Middlesex engages the past principally through its treatment of funeral monuments, dutifully, somewhat maniacally, copying the inscriptions and coats of arms. There are a few “decayed places” of note, however.
The first is “Hollicke,” described in this way: “…there are noted the foundations of ancient buildings, affirmed by some aged men, that it hath been a town, but oftentimes “immensa cani spirant mendatia folles.”” The (slightly misprinted) quotation is from Juvenal’s seventh Satire, and translates roughly as: “their capacious bellows puff out limitless lies” (Rudd and Barr, 64 l. 111; Marcham). This denial of the location’s status as a “deserted village” is clear evidence that the sign for “decayed places” must signify something else. Deciding exactly what Norden intended in this particular instance is made difficult by the relative obscurity of the reference. The site, long since overtaken by the growth of the surrounding areas of Edmonton and Enfield has been spelled in a variety of ways (Halliwick being the most common), but all seem to derive from the Old English “halig” (holy) and “wic” (dwelling place) (Prideaux). Norden, with his acute awareness of etymology, would likely have surmised this. W.F. Prideaux supposed that it was once the site of decayed religious houses, though the traces seen by Norden appear to have vanished. The Victoria County History makes no mention of them, and refers to Halliwick only as an alternative, older name for Bush Hill estate.
A second “decayed place” on the Middlesex map is “Lodghill” (Lodge Hill). It is clear enough that Lodge Hill is not a “deserted village,” but what it is, or what its import is, is less certain. Norden determines that it must have been more of a castle than a lodge, but can only offer the vaguest sketch of its real nature:
… for some time stood a lodge, when the park was replenished with deer; but it seemeth by the foundation it was rather a castle than a lodge, for the hill is at this time trenched with two deep ditches, now old and overgrown with bushes: the rubble thereof, as brick, tile, and Cornish slate, are in heaps yet to be seen, which ruins are of great antiquity, as may appear by the oaks, at this day standing (above 100 years growth) upon the very foundation of the building. It did belong to the bishop of London, at which place have been dated divers evidences, some of which remain yet in the Bishops registry (36).
The site was, indeed, a Bishops’ residence until at least 1306, after which it went into disuse and was torn down, leaving only the traces which Norden describes (Lloyd 37). He had noted earlier, in the entry for Hornsey, that the church there “is supposed to be built with the stones that came from the ruins of Lodghill” (Norden 21). Norden seems to be interested in Lodge Hill as an exemplar of the land-as-palimpsest, and his interest is less in the place itself – he does not mention, as Stow did, its association with convicted “witch” Eleanor, Duchess of Gloucester (Thornbury 429) – than in the processes and cycles of decay and reconstruction themselves. This is to say that his gloss on Lodge Hill situates it temporally as much as spatially.
The most interesting decayed place in the text, however, is not marked as such on the map, for it is only a proto-ruin. This would be Pancras Church, a building then in disrepair (but which still stands, as St Pancras Old Church, behind St Pancras Railway Station). Norden’s tone here is oddly affective, in contrast to his detached, touristic commentaries on other sites:
Pancras Church, F20,standeth all alone as utterly forsaken, old and weather-beaten, which for the antiquity thereof, it is thought not to yield to [St. Paul’s] in London: about this Church have been many nice buildings, now decayed, leaving poor Pancras without company or comfort: yet it is now and then visited with Kentish Town and Highgate, which are members thereof: but they seldom come there, for that they have chapels of ease within themselves… (38)
The isolation of St Pancras and the loss of its parishioners do give it the hallmarks of a deserted village, which as Maurice Beresford notes, is rather remarkable given its location relative to London. Norden was not the first to draw attention to this: Ralph Agas’ 1578 plan goes as far north as St Pancras and shows it isolated in the middle of empty fields (Beresford 49).
Norden almost anthropomorphizes Pancras Church, endowing it with emotions and social relations. This reveals a latent Romantic streak in Norden – not unlike that of John Berger and Anne Michaels in Railtracks, which deals with the same area – but also shows that he understands “decay” quite rationally as a question of population dynamics and the evolution of settlements. The mention of chapels of ease here also suggests a link between them and “decay,” since both reflect changes in population density (in this case, with the chapels of ease overtaking the erstwhile primary chapel, which lay abandoned). This may also be the closest Norden comes to describing a “deserted village,” if it can be called such, and it is quite an atypical one (being as it is a stone’s throw from present-day Central London).
The map for Essex lacks a sign in the key for decayed places but is not lacking in ruins. There are a number of ruined churches and monasteries, and though this in theory could be a way of quietly marking deserted villages (as in the Chilton map), this is not what is being done. For instance, Barking Abbey, which still stands in the heart of modern East London, is mentioned.
Even in slightly larger towns that demand a brief word, the specter of ruins is present. See, for instance, the entry for (Saffron) Walden: “There are the ruins of an ancient and stately castle, wherein are yet to be seen sundry deep and horrible dungeons or prisons.” Norden is always keen to adumbrate his sites with the uncanny presence of the past.
The map of Hertfordshire does not have a key, and it does not appear to include the sign used previously for decayed places on the map itself. The text’s two longest entries, however, describe vanished sites. The first, “an old city or famous place,” is Sulloniaca (Sulloniacis), taking its name from a mention in the Antonine Itinerary. Norden, following Camden and agreeing with most modern anthropologists, locates it at Brockley Hill. Though a good number of Roman antiquities have been found here, there is only circumstantial evidence for the presence of a settlement (Sheldon). What Norden was describing when he wrote of “some fragments of the situation of some decayed buildings” is unclear, but even on this evidence it would be bold to precisely locate a vanished, little-known settlement on a scaled and gridded modern county map.
The description of Verulamium, near modern-day St. Albans, is less adventurous by comparison, but still remarkable: “This ancient decayed city seemeth at this day to publish her pristine state and strength.” This is a curious turn of phrase, with a somewhat paradoxical coincidence of “decay” and the “pristine,” of fragility and strength. It emphasized the “antiquity” of the contemporary English nation and its direct, tangible link to the Roman Empire, bridging over the intervening era when the British Isles had a peripheral status. This is the boldest instance of Norden’s speculative cartography, and the attention he pays to these sites (at the expense of contemporary market towns, for instance) puts the ideological contours of his enterprise in relief.
Norden’s work on Cornwall is surely the most impressive and complete of any volume of the Speculum; it was also the last. The area was long neglected by surveyors, and with keen royal interest in exploiting its vast mineral reserves, Norden’s work had a more urgent import than usual (Kitchen 1997 51). This volume accordingly boasts the most robust organization of material, containing alphabetical listings paired with appropriate map sign, a list of “the principal matters contained in the general history” (i.e., a table of contents), and gives each entry it least a minimal description, rather than a mere place in an index. Most significantly, it includes detailed maps of each hundred in addition to the general county map.
A great deal of attention given to stanneries, mineral wealth, and other economic matters ignored in his previous works. It is a very useful and practical book, and seems even by its tone to have a more narrowly understood audience. It is therefore is lighter on curiosities, but very detailed on the issue of mines. The maps also lack a particular sign for “decayed places,” and one might expect Norden’s fascination with ruination to be muted here, excepting in more practical instances (e.g., the ruined chapel at St Daye, which had become a bustling market site for travelers ).
The text is nevertheless full of sea-swallowed towns, ruined parks, and other sites Norden feels compelled to memorialize. The most significant entries are those for Lostwithiel and Restormel (called Lestermell here). The former, once a “famous and glorious” town, has now declined. While not “deserted,” per se, the loss of its dukedom has led to a decrease in stature, “as appeareth by the ruins of many decayed houses” near the old castle at Restormel. This itself reveals Norden’s aristocratic allegiances, but the entry on Restormel surpasses any passage in the Speculum, even the above-cited commentary on Pancras Church,in its nostalgic contemplation of loss.
This ruined Oven layeth open her entrails that men may yet see the bounty of pristine ages. The whole castle beginneth to mourn, and to wring out hard stones for tears, that she that was embraced, visited and delighted with great princes, is now desolate, forsaken, and forlorn. The Cannon needs not batter, nor the Pioneer to undermine, nor powder to blow up this so famous a pile, for time and tyranny hath wrought her desolation: Her water pipes of lead many and of great use, are cut up, the covering lead gone, the planchings rotten, the walls fall down, the fair free-hewed stone windows…and all that would yield money or serve for use, are converted to private mens’ purposes; and there remaineth a forlorn show of honor, not contenting any compassionate eye to behold her lingering decays. Men grieve to see the dying delays of any brute creature, so may we mourn to see so stately a pile so long a falling; if it be of no use, the carcass would make some profit; therefore if it deserve, let her fall be no longer delayed, else will it drop piecemeal down, and her now profitable relics will then serve to little or no use. (59)
As with the case of Pancras Church, Norden’s passion here is partly due to the potential that the site may be saved and converted to profitable use (it would be, somewhat grimly, during the English Civil War [Memegalos 196ff]). It is also, though, the great antiquity of the site, and its connection to the Norman past that thrill him. It is a living reminder of England’s storied heritage, but its melancholic desolation acts as a kind of memento mori. This passage, histrionics and all, is an early forerunner of modern heritage preservation efforts, and has similar nationalistic overtones.
Conclusion: The Meaning of Decay
Of what use to someone like Lord Burleigh are the ruins of an old house in Hampshire? Perhaps none – after all, Burleigh wasn’t too keen on supplying Norden with money to keep producing these maps. Norden “had patronage, but little else, of the great Burleigh,” one 18th-century commentator wrote (Gough). Burleigh, by contrast, was so interested in Saxton’s maps that he personally annotated his own copies, writing, for instance, “dangerous places for landing men” near places on the Dorset coast (Delano-Smith 67).
This brings us back to the idea of “multi-purpose map” and of general readership. The “mass” audience for written material (especially of a secular nature) was still in its infancy, but I think by this point we can already see the formation of the “imagined communities” mediated by textual materials Benedict Anderson famously linked to the rise of nationalist ideologies in Europe. Norden’s work, and the county maps in general, served to foster such communities.
Indeed, Norden is quite explicit about his intentions in this regard, which he states in the “advertisements touching the use of this labor” attached to the Description of Middlesex. He remarks that he has “observed certain funeral monuments” with coats of arms, “whereby may be preserved in perpetual memory, that which time may deface, and swallow up in oblivion” (cf. Morgan 148). Marking burial sites in this way will allow readers to “find out their unknown kindred.” In addition to being a “mirror” of the topography of England, the Speculum aims to reflect national memory.
The representation of ruins serves the same function as the burial sites, but at the more abstract level of the nation. Against the increasing fragmentation of English society which would lead, less than two decades after Norden’s death, to a catastrophic civil war, Norden projects a quintessentially Elizabethan vision of a proud shared heritage which can be made to serve as an ideological foundation for a nascent nationalism. This is an essentially triumphalist view which contrasts sharply with the elegiac tone of those who chose to memorialize the villages lost to the creative destruction of early capitalism. It is this distinction that makes exploring the significance of Norden’s sign more than a trivial or pedantic exercise.
The fact that Norden’s nation-fashioning takes place in the realm of cartography distinguishes it from other contemporary efforts (e.g., Edmund Spenser’s Fairie Queene). The link between the county map and the rise English nationalism has been discussed many times, but the way Norden’s maps excavate the past while imagining the present, the way they insert the past inside the present, has not been fully appreciated.
Maps by their nature allow for imaginative transport or “armchair geography” (Delano-Smith 118; Morgan 146). These maps could be “kept in a private library, where it was a way of traveling in imagination without expense or fatigue” (Nicolson 7). Norden recognized this well. In his Surveyors Dialogue, he wrote:
…a plot rightly drawn by true information, describeth so the lively image of a Manor, and every branch and member of the same, as the Lord sitting in his chair, may see what he hath, where, and how it lieth, and in whole use and occupation every particular is, upon the sudden view… (Norden 27)
D.K. Smith argues that the same kind of “imaginative ownership” is granted by the county maps, which “liberated the imagination to experience parts of the country outside the immediate area” (Smith 68). Norden unites the nation, in his text, through space as well as time, linking the visible traces on the landscape to the Roman and other pasts they recall. How Norden employs the ruins varies widely: they may be mere scenery, they may be melancholy markers of loss, they may be links to glorious pasts accessible only by the imagination. The complexity of the significations mirrors the complexity of the interpretations that would follow, as maps became a crucial front in the political and religious skirmishes of the 17th century.
 That roads were not included in previous English maps may be puzzling to modern readers, but Renaissance maps were not primarily used for wayfinding (itineraries and other less painstaking methods were used). See Andrews, 209, and Akerman, James R, ed. Cartographies of Travel and Navigation.
 These features were already common, or at least had precedent, in Continental cartography, which was much more advanced than English practice in the sixteenth century. The marginal grid, for instance, had been used on the Continent since 1524, and there had been what Delano-Smith calls listed “short-word keys” since 1533 (Lynam 16, Delano-Smith 1985 9). Norden may have been indirectly influenced by these maps through his friend and fellow cartographer William Smith, who had spent time in Nuremberg (Delano-Smith and Kain72).
 The language here anticipates Oliver Goldsmith’s: “Sweet smiling village, loveliest of the lawn,/ Thy sports are fled, and all thy charms withdrawn;/Amidst thy bowers the tyrant’s hand is seen,/And Desolation saddens all thy green.” (“The Deserted Village,” ll. 35-38)
 For the sake of clarity and convenience, I have modernized the spelling for longer quotations taken from primary sources.
 Norden’s ideal of a prelapsarian manor-as-commonwealth – tastefully laid out, harmonious and unmarred by tenants’ “abuses” – rather resembles the ideal of the “country house” which blossomed at the same time.
 I have left out certain counties dealt with by Norden, mostly in cases where they lack extant maps. The map of Hampshire is only known by an impression made in 1650, after Norden’s death (Kitchen 60). It has a complex textual history, and exists in several states, with different engravers. The sole location marked as a “place ruinate and decaid” I was able to locate was “Warneford” (Warnford). The maps of Sussex, aside from appearances through Camden and John Speed, exist only in manuscript (at the Royal Geographic Society in London). The Kent map is known through Camden, but like most rehashings of Norden, is etiolated. Hampshire is notable principally for its unique sign for “places ruinate and decaid,” a crossed out circle: a sign which implies negation, non-placehood.
 The guide to map signs is presented in the body of the text, not on the maps themselves. Moreover, the signs vary somewhat between the “general map” of Cornwall and the “particular hundreds” where a pictorial, rather than abstract sign is used for hamlets (Delano-Smith 1985 12).
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