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Friday, 30 March 2012

Those Places Thursday - there is more to an atlas than the maps

Beautiful coloured maps are obviously the main attraction in and old atlas, but there may be all kinds of other interesting information too. These two diagrams are from Bacon's Atlas of the British Isles 1890.

I like this way of illustrating the relative sizes of the four nations - bearing in mind of course that there was only one Ireland in 1890. This is just an illustration of their land areas, while the second diagram is a novel way of illustrating population density.

Relative density of the population of the UK 1801-1881
'Each square represents one tenth of a square mile, the dots giving the number of inhabitants on an average for each country on that area'

All the information is drawn from census statistics, and a number of more conventional census tables are also included in the atlas. One of these is a bar chart showing the actual population figures, and it is worth remembering that while the population of England, Wales and Scotland grew steadily over that period, the population of Ireland increased until 1841, and then dropped sharply, so that by 1881 it was less than it had been in 1821, the year of the first census in Ireland.

The atlas also has a handy list of the Principal Towns, arranged by county, with a one-line description of each. Some of my favourites include:
Reading, Berkshire - Abbey ruins, grammar school, seed, biscuits, ribbons
Richmond, Surrey - Pleasure resort, hill, park, boating, old palace
St Ives, Huntingdonshire - Great cattle and sheep market
Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire - Abbey restored, Yorkist victory 1471
Llandudno, Caernarvonshire - Watering-place, Great Orme's Head
Inverary, Argyleshire - Castle of Duke of Argyle, fishing on lake
Stirling, Stirlingshire - Castle, Wallace monument, tartans, Bannockburn 1314
Ballycastle, Antrim - Coal mines, romantic scenery
Middleton, Cork - Corn export, whisky distilleries, one street 

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1 comment:

  1. My memories of Ballycastle are dulse, Auld Lammas Fair, the Croi at Corrymeela and the boat to Rathlin - had no idea there were coal mines there once!

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