Sunday, 12 June 2016

A Day at the UKHO Archives

Back in 2009 when I purchased a copy of the Chart L1573 from the UK Hydrographic Office (UKHO) in Taunton I was advised that there were a number of original documents that might also be of interest.

L1573 was the original chart titled “Plan Of Port Gumishlu and Remains of the Ancient Myndus” plotted by Lt Cdr Thomas Graves in 1938. The chart was received by the Hydrographic Office on the 30th of Mar 1839 and published in 1844 as Admiralty Chart 1531 “Gumishlu the Antient Myndus”

With Francis Beaufort, who in circa 1811 – 12 first suggested that the harbour and remains at Gümüşlük could be those of Myndos, then being the Hydrographer for the Navy at the time of the survey, I was hoping to find some correspondence between Graves and Beaufort, which may have included a description, or reference to, some of the features shown on the chart e.g. theatre, temples, stadium etc.

Two weeks ago I finally managed to arrange a visit to UKHO to view the surveyor’s letters.

Within the first hour I had found a letter from Graves, on board HMS Beacon in Malta dated 21st Dec 1837, addressed to Capt F Beaufort, which included the following:

“...the site of Baigylia we have determined beyond a doubt and have a ground plan of it - Port Gumishlu has so many ----- in the neighbourhood that I intend giving it a more particular examination, and from the extent of walls and other remains, I have no doubt of it having been the ancient Myndus.”

However four hours later and despite assistance from the research staff who went out of their way to help identify and present several other files and collections of letters, I found no other references to the survey.

Today, while drafting this post, I’ve found an entry in Vol 8 of the Royal Geographical Society that contains a short report from Graves, which was communicated to the society by Beaufort

“At Patmos, where we commenced this year’s survey of the islands and coast of Asia Minor, we made a plan of Gumishlú, which I can with great confidence assert to be the ancient Myndus, from the extent of ruins and a colonnade of fifty two columns of which the pedestals all remain, tombs, &c. The plan of them shall be forwarded as soon as we have time to copy it.”

Graves, Lieutenant, and Brock Lieutenant. "Brief Notice of the Gulfs of Kos and Symi." The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London 8 (1838): 428-29. Web.

This suggests that somewhere in the bowels of the UKHO archive there still could be further correspondence between Graves and Beaufort. The search goes on.