From the French routier, itself from the Portuguese roteiro, a route or road, an early name for a book of sailing directions—though the periplus was even older. It was usually illustrated with views of ports and coastline seen from seaward. In 1483 a French sailor named Pierre Garcie wrote Le Grand Routier et pilotage, a pilot book for the west coast of France, and a translation appeared in English, possibly the first of a long series of rutters which appeared over the next two centuries. A printed version appeared in 1521 with woodcut views to facilitate identification of the coast from seaward. There was also much information on tides, and general advice on navigation. In 1541 Richard Proude printed The New Rutter of the Sea for the North Partes, being sailing directions for the circumnavigation of the British Isles.
Rutter also referred to the English seaman's personal notebook in which he kept a record of courses, anchorages, etc.; such notebooks were usually handed down from father to son, being valuable for the local information they held. See also derroterro.
Subjects: Bibliography — Maritime History.