The Best Antique Somerset Maps

Somerset_Shire, Somersetensem, Somersettensis

We've perused auction house catalogues, books, and online map collections to give you are favourite antique Somerset maps.

In no particular order -


1. Somerset Shire - Speed - 1672

This beautiful decorative map by John Speed is one of many highly sough out county maps by the most famous of English Cartographers.

These maps are known for their borders, which show local inhabitants in national costume and panoramic vignette views of major cities and towns.

Another lovely touch is that the atlas copies have a description of life in the region during that time printed on the reverse.

Yours for about £1000 today.

somerset shire john speed 1627

2. Somersetensem Comitat - Saxon - 1579

This map was published in the first ever English Atlas. It is printed using engraving and then hand coloured. It is a thing of real beauty and would cost about £3500 today.

Christopher Saxon was the first to survey and draw county maps of the Kingdom and was part of the Thomas Seckford household whose arms is in the lower right corner.

During the reign of Elizabeth I map use became more common, with many government matters referring to increasingly accurate maps with consistent scales and symbols.

Rather than provide a scientific representation of relative relief these give a general impression of the lie of the land. Settlements and notable buildings are also recorded pictorially; a small building with a spire represents a village, while more important towns are indicated by groups of building.


somerseten saxon 1579


3. Somersettensis Comitatus Vulgo - Saxton & Kip - 1607 or later

Based on Saxon's earlier county map above and engraved by William Kip this map was first published in 1607 in the first edition of William Camden's Britannia*

It's a double-page engraved map, hand-coloured with monsters and sailing ships.

Beautifully decorative with striking colour sand detail it will cost about £350 today

*'Britannia', first published in 1586, was one of the most popular and influential books of the period. The work of the Elizabethan antiquarian, William Camden (1551-1623), it was a detailed historical and topographical description of Great Britain. Its patriotic sentiments, both appealed to and generated the growing sense of nationalism that was coursing through late Tudor / early Stuart society.  



4. Dorsetshire, Somersetshire & South Wiltshire - Reynolds - 1864

This antique hand-coloured geological map by James Reynolds (1864) is very striking.

It may also include Dorsetshire and South Wiltshire but we couldn't not include its strong graphic style on our round up.

We love the bold colour scheme and font used for the title.

£40 (re-print)


geology map west country reynolds 1864


5. Somersettensis Comitatus - Somerset Shire. - Joan Blaeu - 1645

Old County Map of Somersetshire from the Atlas Novus

This is a beautifully detailed and colourful map by Johan Blaeu. Born in Amsterdam in 1596 he and his father Willem became the most widely known cartographic publishers of the seventeenth century.

His Atlas Major and the town-books of the Netherlands and of Italy are heralded today as great works that secured the reputation of the Blaeu name for evermore.

On February 23, 1672, a fire ruined the business. One year later, Dr. Joan Blaeu died. The fire of 1672 and the passing away of the director gave rise to a complete sale of the stock of the Blaeu House.  

Cost Estimate £650



somerset joan blaeu 1648



6. An Improved Map of the County of Somerset - 1749  - Bowen

This map was first published in 1749 and is the work of Emanuel Bowen and Thomas Kitchin. It was part of “The Large English Atlas” and is regarded as one of the finest county maps of the 18th century.

It has many detailed notes, our favourite being ‘Chadder [sic] near Axbridge is noted for excelent [sic] Cheese made there, not Inferior to the best Parmesan.’

Bowen’s maps helped move cartography from mere functional objects to art forms and went on to be published in great quantity.

Cost Estimate £350


Emmanuel Bowen 1740 An improved map of somerset


We love the idea of having the funds to develop a healthy addiction to antique mapping but if like us this is out of your reach then why not consider our brand-new wall map of Somerset.

Starting at £35 for a paper print we are sure it will make a great addition to your home, sparking your imagination and inspiring new journeys.

You can read more here.


somerset wall map