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Online access to the earliest medieval map of Britain

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Author Topic: Online access to the earliest medieval map of Britain  (Read 320 times)
Oracle of Delphi
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« on: August 20, 2011, 05:08:56 pm »

The Gough map website

Although the identity of the map-maker is unknown, it is now possible to reveal that the text on this the work of at least two scribes: the original 14th-century scribe and a 15th-century reviser.

One of the key investigations based on historical reference and the handwriting on the map was to date the map more accurately. The project has discovered that the map was made closer to 1375, rather than in 1360 as was previously thought.

There are visible differences between recorded details in Scotland and England. For example: the text written by the original scribe is best preserved in Scotland and the area north of Hadrian’s Wall, whereas the text written by the reviser is found in south-eastern and central England. The buildings in Scotland do not have windows and doors, whereas in the revised part of the map, essentially everywhere south of Hadrian’s Wall, most buildings have both windows and doors.

    the text written by the original scribe is best preserved in Scotland and the area north of Hadrian’s Wall

Throughout, towns are shown in some detail, the lettering for London and York coloured gold, while other principal medieval settlements such as Bristol, Chester, Gloucester, Lincoln, Norwich, Salisbury and Winchester are lavishly illustrated.
The website

The website also includes a series of scholarly essays discussing the map; latest news about the project and a blog.

The Gough Map’s origins have long remained uncertain, including who made it, how, where and why? To begin to address these questions the project used innovative approaches that explored the map’s ‘linguistic geographies’, looking at the writing used on the map by the (unknown) scribes who created it. This technique involves specialist palaeographic and linguistic skills that are normally applied to text manuscripts, but somewhat experimentally the aim with this project was to use them on a map manuscript with the aim of finding out more about the Gough Map’s making.

Paul Vetch, from the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s, said: ‘The Gough Map is a fascinating document from any number of different disciplinary perspectives – history, linguistics, palaeography, cartography, to name but a few – and our aim was to try and deliver it in a way which would make it available for as many modes of interrogation as possible.’

Nick Millea, Bodleian Map Librarian, said: ‘The project team was keen to ensure that our research findings reach the widest possible audiences, not least because maps are enduringly popular objects and always capture the imagination; medieval maps especially. To this end one of the main project outcomes is this web-resource through which the Gough Map is made more widely accessible. We hope this will help others to develop other lines of enquiry on medieval maps and mapmaking, whether in academic or non-academic sectors, as well as provide greater levels of access to the Gough Map, enhancing its world-wide significance in the history of cartography.’

More information:

The Gough Map website

2011 UK Memory of the World Register includes Gough Map, United Kingdom National Commission for UNESCO, 2011. Accessed 4 June 2011.
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