Manuscript Publication project (Cambridge, England) focuses
on Thomas Harriot's (1560-1621) manuscript on shipbuilding and
rigging- Arcticon (the name-sake of the IMRD's annual).
Unfortunately, this manuscript is now lost and only chapters
of Harriot's personal notes remain, buried in the archives.
Harriot, a contemporary and friend of Sir Walter Raleigh, compiled
an intensive work relevant to shipbuilding and/or navigation
on the sea; including notes information on narrowing, rising,
the use of dual midships frames, diagrams, offsets, and other
calculations. It is the goal of this project to transcribe,
synthesize, and publish these lost notes. The IMRD is the sole
sponsor of this endeavor.
Thomas Harriot (1560-1621), produced
a massive amount of notes and papers in his lifetime but despite
constant urges from colleagues and friends published little
to none of his findings. Only in his will did he make arrangements
for the organization and publication of his work. Accordingly,
Harriot’s significance and reputation in the scientific
and academic communities went vastly overlooked until the discovery
of a large collection of his work in the 1970’s.
For the last 35 years, chapters of Harriot’s
notes have come to light in the occasional symposium or journal
article, but for the most part these focus on the mathematical
or astronomical formula and theories he advanced or developed.
In the known collections of Harriot’s
notes there are at least seven chapters directly relevant to
shipbuilding or navigation on the sea. These notes include information
on narrowing, rising, the use of dual midships frames, diagrams,
offsets and other calculations.
Harriot's Nautical Background:
Around 1583 Harriot entered
the service of Sir Walter Raleigh (infamous for his Roanoke
Island experiment, c.1584). While a lecturer and navigational
instructor of the seamen that were to accompany Raleigh on his
exploits to the New World, Harriot wrote Arcticon.
This opus was intended to be an instructional manual for the
sailors, or similar to a modern textbook, from which he taught
his courses. Unfortunately, no copies of this work are known
to exist. Like many of Harriot's works it was never published
and only upon his death did he arrange for publication (which
likely did not occur).
In addition to being a brilliant mathematician
and astronomer, Harriot himself spent some time on board sailing
-1585-1586, voyage with Raleigh from England to Virginia
-1585, a voyage from Plymouth on April 9th permitted him to
calculate the ship's exact position from a comet overhead
-1586, June. Returned to England with Sir Francis Drake, arriving
Harriot is also said to have compiled
an elaborate account of the voyage to and/or from the New World,
but, again, was unpublished and is now lost.
The Harriot Manuscript Publication Project
aims to collect, transcribe,
synthesize, and publish these lost notes.
Links (forthcoming) on this page will be dedicated to one of
the seven "chapters" mentioned above and will focus
on the aspects of Harriot's notes practical to a study of nautical
archaeology. In these forty pages he describes such topics as
how to determine mast and yard dimensions based on keel length,
names and lengths of ropes and other rigging elements, and the
names and duties of officers.