Starting with his back against the Tower of London, Norwood spent two devoted years marching 208 miles north to York, repeatedly stretching and measuring a length of chain as he went, all the while making the most meticulous adjustments for the rise and fall of the land and the meanderings of the road. The final step was to measure the angle of the Sun at York at the same time of day and on the same day of the year as he had made his first measurement in London.
From this, he reasoned he could determine the length of one degree of the Earth's meridian and thus calculate the distance around the whole. It was an almost ludicrously ambitious undertaking—a mistake of the slightest fraction of a degree would throw the whole thing out by miles—but in fact, as Norwood proudly declaimed, he was accurate to "within a scantling"—or, more precisely, to within about six hundred yards. In metric terms, his figure worked out at 110.72 kilometers per degree of arc.
In 1637, Norwood's masterwork of navigation, The Seaman's Practice , was published and found an immediate following. It went through seventeen editions and was still in print twenty-five years after his death. Norwood returned to Bermuda with his family, becoming a successful planter and devoting his leisure hours to his first love, trigonometry.
He survived there for thirty-eight years and it would be pleasing to report that he passed this span in happiness and adulation. In fact, he didn't. On the crossing from England, his two young sons were placed in a cabin with the Reverend Nathaniel White, and somehow so successfully traumatized the young vicar that he devoted much of the rest of his career to persecuting Norwood in any small way he could think of.