The Database of estate maps has been researched and constructed
by Glenys Bridges based on an earlier, paper index, compiled by the late M. C. S. Evans.
The database is available on CD Rom from Carmarthenshire Record Office. This
includes both Access, Foxpro and Acrobat PDF versions
Adobe Acrobat versions can be viewed here.
Introductory note by Glenys Bridges
The 1977 volume of The Carmarthenshire Antiquary contained an article by M.C.S.
Evans entitled 'The pioneers of estate mapping in Carmarthenshire', an article offering a comprehensive
account of the surveyors working in eighteenth-century Carmarthenshire.(1) In the article the author
outlined his intention to produce for the 1978 volume 'a list of estate maps … and an analysis
of their value as a source of historical information'. Sadly ill health prevented the completion
of this task and at the time of his death these aims remained unrealised.
The data he had diligently accumulated represented years of painstaking research
and for such a research archive to remain unused would amount to a negation of Michael Evans's considerable
endeavour. But for another researcher to utilise his material is a challenge I have undertaken with
trepidation. The delicacy of the situation only serves to underline my gratitude to Mrs Mair Evans
for allowing me access to her husband's data. These have been used liberally, and I hope, wisely
in the compilation of this database. Any flaws, inadequacies or deficiencies, however, I acknowledge
as my own.
Today space photography, digital mapping and refined methods of measurement enable
modern map-makers to produce maps of immense accuracy. Such maps reflect the sophistication of modern
technology. By comparison, the eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century surveyor with little in
the way of equipment travelled extensively, worked at great speed and recorded the diversity of
the rural landscape in great detail on his manuscript surveys for private landlords. For almost
a century such men surveyed the estates of Carmarthenshire, leaving an effective record of the countryside
and encapsulating in their maps the very essence of the period. The database attempts to offer thumb-nail
sketches of these maps. If maps are thought to tell a story, this immense archive must surely speak
eloquently: to local historians, historical geographers, cartographers, industrial archaeologists
or those simply wishing to obtain a visual impression from which to observe the imperceptible or
sometimes dramatic changes that have occurred in the landscape over time.
About the database
The majority of eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century estate maps of Carmarthenshire
survive in bound volume form. The entries in the database are mainly of maps contained in bound
volumes, all of which are pre-1840. However some particularly interesting individual documents have
also been included (for example NLW, Map 7223 : Cotton lands; NLW, Map 7230 : Dolaucothi and Kencoed;
NLW Mss 2089 : Whitlera; and at CRO the maps covering properties owned by the Kymer family which
are loose sheets referenced as Dynevor 3). The cartographic components of each map are listed. The
original spelling for each farm is given with that in current use or used by the Ordnance Survey
on early editions of the 1:10,560 County Series, with the relevant sheet number. The grid reference
of each farm and its location within the parish are entered. Total acreages in acres, rods and perches
and scale are given. (Individual field acreages are commonly shown on the maps and in some cases
the proportions of land utilised for different purposes are entered on the maps.) Almost without
exception scale is given as chains to the inch. The measuring chain used for linear measurement
by surveyors was 22 yards in length, divided into a hundred links, so that 1 square chain was one
tenth of an acre. This was the statute chain where one perch was set at 16½ feet and acreages
derived from these measures became statutory acres.(2) There are, however, examples of customary
measure contained in the database. John Butcher's map of Cnwc y Fedwen in Egremont dated 1744 gives
both a statute and a customary measure with a note stating '12 feet to the boll', but the meaning
of this obscure term remains a mystery (NLW, Picton Castle Collection). Meredith Jones has a useful
note in his 1744 volume of the Duffryn (Blaensawdde) Estate which gives the customary measure in
Breconshire as '7 yards to 1 perch, 20 perches to 1 quarter, 4 quarters of 1 acre' (WGAS, Gw E/1).
Real orientation of the top of the map is given: if the compass is incorrectly placed this is noted.
The date of the map and the surveyor's name are given. Neighbouring properties or landowners are
named, again using the spelling found on the original map. Relevant annotations and features of
interest are noted. The mapbooks mentioned in the database are housed in four repositories : National
Library of Wales (NLW), Carmarthen Record Office (CRO). West Glamorgan Archive Service (WGAS) and
Cambridge University Library (CUL). The reference number given by each repository is used for the
entries in the database with the addition of the appropriate page number of the volume in question
Where two maps appear on a page or several substantial properties appear on a map a and Cambridge
University Library (CUL). The reference number given by each repository is used for the entries
in the database with the addition of the appropriate page number of the volume in question Where
two maps appear on a page or several substantial properties appear on a map a suffix letter is used
(for the Taliaris Estate: 355 22 a and 22 b, 355 being the location reference given by CRO and 22
a and b the page on which the maps of Aberdaunant and Mountain Gate appear). It was common for early
surveyors to include field names and land use on their final drawings, but little mention is made
of these features in the database. Field names are almost without exception given in Welsh and may
offer clues to the type of terrain or land use of the area. Arable, pasture and meadow are the categories
of land use favoured, colour may be used to distinguish the different uses or each field may contain
the initial letter of the category in question. The reference table accompanying each map explains
the methodology employed.
Two map books held at the Carmarthen Record Office have not been entered fully
in the database. They are of the estate of the Bishop of St Davids (CRO : 4225) and of John Campbell
(CRO : Cawdor Campbell Mapbook 2). The maps contained in the second mapbook of the Cawdor Campbell
Estate dated 1795 are copies of the 1777 maps of Richard Jones, at a smaller scale, making detailed
study of the maps difficult. Superficial examination would suggest that little new information was
incorporated and a conscious decision was made to omit it. William Couling's survey of the lands
of the Bishop of St Davids held by the National Library of Wales is believed to pre-date that held
at CRO. As the earlier survey is the more comprehensive the NLW volume has been used here.
Modern technology allows the data to be accessed by parish, estate, surveyor, date
or repository offering the user the opportunity to arrange the information differently for specific
projects. The image of a map is created by all the marks from which it is made up, rather like a
picture the essence of it can be extracted and described as in the database entries but true appreciation
of a map or picture comes only when it can be seen and its component features although randomly
presented can be 'read' as a text.(3)
Adobe Acrobat versions can be viewed here.
1. M.C.S. Evans, 'The pioneers of estate mapping in Carmarthenshire', The Carmarthenshire
Antiquary', 1977, 52-64.
2. Glenys Bridges, 'An appraisal of the Stepney estate mapbook', The Carmarthenshire
Antiquary, 1999, 12-29.
3. A. Sarah Bendall, Maps, Land and Society, 1992, Cambridge University Press.