Speculum Britanniae
Speculum Britanniae published in London from 1593, was a projected, but unfinished, chorography
Chorography is a term deriving from the writings of the ancient geographer Ptolemy, meaning the geographical description of regions...

 of Britain by John Norden
John Norden
John Norden was an English cartographer, chorographer and antiquary. He planned a series of county maps and accompanying county histories of England, the Speculum Britanniae...

 (1548—1625). It was intended to take the form of a series of county maps, accompanied by place-by-place written descriptions. Norden was primarily a surveyor and cartographer, and the written descriptions always had a subsidiary role, being much slighter than other early county histories
English county histories
English county histories, in other words historical and topographical works concerned with individual ancient counties of England before their reorganisation, were produced by antiquarians from the late 16th century onwards...

. Nevertheless, they were based on direct observation, and Norden recorded much topographical and antiquarian detail of interest, including the heraldry
Heraldry is the profession, study, or art of creating, granting, and blazoning arms and ruling on questions of rank or protocol, as exercised by an officer of arms. Heraldry comes from Anglo-Norman herald, from the Germanic compound harja-waldaz, "army commander"...

 of tombs, and archaeological sites
Archaeological site
An archaeological site is a place in which evidence of past activity is preserved , and which has been, or may be, investigated using the discipline of archaeology and represents a part of the archaeological record.Beyond this, the definition and geographical extent of a 'site' can vary widely,...


The first instalment, Speculum Britanniae: the First Parte: an Historicall, & Chorographicall Discription of Middlesex, was published in 1593. The second, Speculi Britaniae Pars: the Description of Hartfordshire, appeared in 1598. In 1595 Norden wrote a "Chorographical Description" of Middlesex
Middlesex is one of the historic counties of England and the second smallest by area. The low-lying county contained the wealthy and politically independent City of London on its southern boundary and was dominated by it from a very early time...

, Essex
Essex is a ceremonial and non-metropolitan county in the East region of England, and one of the home counties. It is located to the northeast of Greater London. It borders with Cambridgeshire and Suffolk to the north, Hertfordshire to the west, Kent to the South and London to the south west...

, Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

, Sussex
Sussex , from the Old English Sūþsēaxe , is an historic county in South East England corresponding roughly in area to the ancient Kingdom of Sussex. It is bounded on the north by Surrey, east by Kent, south by the English Channel, and west by Hampshire, and is divided for local government into West...

, Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

, Wight
Wight is a Middle English word, from Old English wiht, and used to describe a creature or living sentient being. It is akin to Old High German wiht, meaning a creature or thing.In its original usage the word wight described a living human being...

, Guernsey
Guernsey, officially the Bailiwick of Guernsey is a British Crown dependency in the English Channel off the coast of Normandy.The Bailiwick, as a governing entity, embraces not only all 10 parishes on the Island of Guernsey, but also the islands of Herm, Jethou, Burhou, and Lihou and their islet...

 and Jersey
Jersey, officially the Bailiwick of Jersey is a British Crown Dependency off the coast of Normandy, France. As well as the island of Jersey itself, the bailiwick includes two groups of small islands that are no longer permanently inhabited, the Minquiers and Écréhous, and the Pierres de Lecq and...

, as a presentation manuscript for Queen Elizabeth (now British Library Add. MS 21853), but it remained unpublished. (He did, however, publish maps alone of Surrey, Hampshire, Sussex and probably Kent.) In 1596 he published an explanation and justification of the overall project as Speculum Britanniae: a Preparative to this Work. In 1604, he presented to James I a more expansive description and set of nine maps of Cornwall
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...

 (later published in 1728). A description of Northamptonshire (which he had surveyed in the 1590s, and is known to have completed in 1610) reached print in 1720; and one of Essex (related to, but distinct from, that in the "Chorographical Description") was eventually published in 1840.

The idea of a work that was a "mirror" of a land or even of a region of thought had given rise to an extensive medieval "mirror literature".
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