Mapping The Itinerary of King Edward I
‘Is it the end of the world?’ remarked one thirteenth-century Welsh poet, when English forces stormed into Wales in 1277. This quote is symbolic of how national identity – the subject of this project - was a matter of life and death, sovereignty and submission, dreams and realities. It is an investigation into how Edward I’s movements around the British Isles were linked inextricably to his promotion of a ‘United Kingdom’, a ‘Great Britain’, by bringing Wales and Scotland under English crown control. Using the locations of castles, borders, revolts and battles, and Edward’s movements between these points, we can visually document how location was used to advance Edward’s ideology and establish him as the avenging overlord of Britain. Many scholars have studied Edward I’s life, before and during his kingship. Most have also utilised Henry Gough’s Itinerary of Edward I, which was the basis of my work on Edward’s itinerary. However, my research (stemming from the University of Sheffield’s SURE project) departs from purely static mapping of Edward’s itinerary to dynamic, statistical and static mapping, allowing us to gauge just how important location was; which military, progress and recreational routes were taken; which castles were widely visited, all from a different visual perspective. Using spreadsheets, data sets and mapping software we can demonstrate in-depth that castles and borders – namely the Anglo-Welsh border and River Severn, and Hadrian’s Wall in the north – were the focal points of national identity, the battle grounds of sovereignty, where Edward’s Great Britain was forged, practiced, implemented or destroyed.
As we can see, the dynamic map shows both the linear movement of Edward I across his realm, as well as the vast mileage he totalled going between South-Eastern England and North-Eastern Scotland during the years 1277-1307. This is further exemplified through charts detailing his total mileage per month and per year, created by Dr Tom Stafford. The dynamic map is cumulative in form; thus, it plots each location visited on-top of those already present, allowing us to see which areas were most important to Edward’s ideology of a ‘Rex Britanniae’, a ‘Great Britain’. As we would expect from an English king, Edward spent a significant amount of time around London and the South-East. What is most telling, however, is that North Wales, the Welsh Marches, the Anglo-Scottish borderlands and parts of the eastern Scotland, around Stirling and Edinburgh, saw dense clusters of movement. Across these areas, castles are widely present. Considering that movement is clustered around borderland, coastal and inland castles, this confirms my hypothesis: that castles were at the core of Edward’s campaign to subsume Wales and Scotland into the inalienable royal fisc of England, namely, the personal and private property of the English Crown.
There are, nevertheless, minor limitations with cumulative mapping. While the importance of particular locations is exemplified by the density of dots, cumulative mapping lacks the fluidity of non-cumulative forms. While this map succeeds in displaying the linear routes that Edward took across his realm, the contrast between peacetime and wartime movements does become more muted. Aside from mapping itself, there are issues with the data source that need addressing and measures I took in response. The data was extracted from Henry Gough’s Itinerary of Edward I, published in 1900. The publication year is in-itself problematic, due to the sources available for Gough to extract his data from, and although some revisions and additions to the data were taken from Spufford’s revised Itinerary of Edward I (Index version), significant gaps in the data still remained. For example, where Edward was said to have spent 52 days in one location, before moving to one nearby 10 days after the last day in the original location, days 53-61 were marked ‘unknown’. This appears frequently throughout the itinerary, so I took the decision to extend the period spent in the original location from day 52 to day 61, in order to make the dynamic map fuller, but also to suggest that the logical place of stay would likely have been the original location. While some will not agree with my methods, the data from the itinerary, latitudes and longitudes, are all correct, and my extensions of duration were infrequent so as not to corrupt the data. People are, of course, more than welcome to further the data harvested from the itineraries, including the years that I have been working on.
By Charlotte Tomkins
Acknowledgements: I would like to thank Dr Tom Stafford from the University of Sheffield for creating these maps and charts from the data I provided, as well as assisting me on what would work best and give the most coherent and useable results. Also, to Dr Charles West (Department of History), whose suggestions over research and planning and management advice were indispensable.
(for mapping, data collection and research blog on the Sheffield
University History Matters page):
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