Studia Hibernica

The anatomy of a map: John Brownrigg’s 1799 Dublin series1

Studia Hibernica (2018), 44, (1), 79–102.

Abstract

This paper reviews a little-known map series of Dublin produced by surveyor John Brownrigg in 1799. Though frequently referenced and celebrated in modern historical literature of the period, the number of large-scale city plans of Dublin during the eighteenth century was very low. Infrequent levels of urban map revision in pre-Ordnance Survey Ireland meant that civic organisations regularly had to consult cartographic data that was potentially years old. The latter decades of the eighteenth century witnessed substantial changes to Dublin’s urban layout as the city grew. Extensive redevelopment of the streetscape resulted in existing city maps rapidly becoming out of date as new surveys were technically complicated and financially expensive to create. This paper examines Brownrigg’s 1799 map series and explores the reasons for its commission by the Dublin Paving Board, which was responsible for street maintenance in the city at that time. Brownrigg, a leading surveyor and disciple of Rocque’s ‘French School’ of surveying, applied his substantial knowledge of surveying techniques and cartographic style to create a comprehensive and comparatively inexpensive map series of Dublin, which captured the city in the midst of substantial physical change.

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Details

Author details

Cionaith, Finnian Ó