First Published Map of Wales

Caitlin Dempsey


Humphrey Llwyd (1527–1568) was a Welsh cartographer and a leader of the Welsh Renaissance. He was the author of the first book on the history and topography of the island of Britain, Commentarioli Britannicae descriptionis fragmentum (1568).

Scholars attribute Llwyd within coining the phrase, “the British empire” in this book who used the term eight years earlier than John Dee.

Llwyd is also notable for having created the first published map of Wales.

Previously, published maps of Wales were included in general maps of the British Isles or Europe.

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Llwyd’s Cambriae Typus was compiled in 1568 and published in the Additamentum to Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in 1573, making it the first map specifically of Wales to be published. The original four-sheet manuscript version of this map was lost but multiple original prints from Theatrum Orbis Terrarum exist to this day.

Llwyd’s map of Wales contained errors in its representation of the country.

One error was showing Wales as extending to the River Severn, including parts of what is now England. Scholars have noted this may have been because Llwyd was creating a historical and culture map rather than one showing contemporary political boundaries.

More notable on the map is the inaccurate delineation of the Welsh coastline, despite other contemporary maps that showed the area more accurately (Thomas, 2010).

A 1574 version of Humphrey Llwyd's 1573 map of Wales, Cambriae Typus.  Map: National Library of Wales via MediaWiki Commons, public domain.
A 1574 version of Humphrey Llwyd’s 1573 map of Wales, Cambriae Typus. Map: National Library of Wales via MediaWiki Commons, public domain.


Thomas, (2010, July 26). Humphrey Llwyd’s map of Wales and the Saxton proof map. The National Library of Wales Blog

16th and 17th century mapping of Wales. (n.d.). The National Library of Wales. 


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About the author
Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey is the editor of Geography Realm and holds a master's degree in Geography from UCLA as well as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from SJSU.