History and Instruments

What is a compass rose

On old maps, the directions of the compass were represented by an elaborate symbol, known as a compass rose. Many of the older compass roses displayed 32 points, representing not only the four cardinal directions (north, south, east, and west) but also 28 subdivisions of the circle (south-west, south south-west, etc.). This directional symbol resembled a rose, hence its name. Though compasses are now often drawn with only the four cardinal directions and the resemblance to the flower is minimal, the directional symbol is still called a compass rose.


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