An Atlas of the Counties of England and Wales by Christopher Saxton was published in 1579 and is commonly held to be the first such work of comprehensive mapping. Little is known about Saxton’s personal life, although he was probably born in the Yorkshire parish of Dewsbury in the early 1540s. Later his family moved to Dunningley between Morley and Middleton in the South Leeds area. The project was authorised by Elizabeth I and Saxton began his survey of England in 1574 and of Wales in 1577. The atlas contains 35 beautiful hand coloured maps of the counties of England and Wales.

The Saxton Atlas 1579David Fletcher in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography says: “Saxton’s maps were not displaced as the master geographical representation of England and Wales until the Ordnance Survey began publication of one-inch maps in 1801 shows literally that they stood the test of time…

With your Leeds Libraries card you can borrow the Saxton Atlas for free as an eBook or purchase a print from our online shop. Read more about this important book in this BBC article.