An interesting look at a very old map.

I was looking through my copy of the Historical Atlas of the United States again a few days ago, and I noticed the map of the Outer Banks region on page 24. Being somewhat familiar with the region after several vacations spent there, I thought to myself “Huh, that’s surprisingly accurate, I think.”

Being an enterprising young student, I immediately set out to confirm my hypothesis that it was, indeed, a rather accurate map given the conditions of it’s construction (Or reconstruction, given that it was likely reproduced from notes and memory after returning to England).

Here is a section of the map in question:

I took the map into Illustrator and traced the major coastlines in order to get an overlay that I could compare to a modern map of the region. This is the result:

Now, looking at the area in Google Maps, that doesn’t look all that accurate. Until, of course, I remembered that Google Maps orients it’s maps towards true north…while this map is likely oriented towards magnetic north. A quick approximation of the magnetic declination of the region in 1600 (I could not find exact numbers) led me to rotate the Google Maps image. Resizing and layering the coastline trace over it produced this image:

Huh, it IS somewhat accurate after all. Not perfect, but not utterly without relevance to the land, either.

In somewhat unrelated news, I’m going to post the finished version of my hand enlargement of the negative space map from Generous Enemies we took a look at in class.

Some errors managed to creep in towards the top and right, as I mentioned previously. I’m tempted to take a look at the Buskirk map and an old map of New York in the Hayes book that I suspect was one of the primary sources. Maybe in another post next week?


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