Tuesday, March 06, 2018

An Annotated Medieval Map of Britain

Mathew Paris' 13th Century Map of Britain is one of the very first geographical maps of Great Britain. However, despite being arguably the first modern map of Britain, it is still quite hard to navigate. A lot of the actual geography is wrong and the place-names can be difficult to translate into modern English.

I have therefore created an Annotated Matthew Paris Map of Britain. On my map you can simply click on a place-name on the map to discover the equivalent modern English place-name. For example if you click on 'Eboracum' on the map an information window will open informing you that this is the city we know as 'York'.

I have translated over 90% of the place-names on the map, however a few of the place-names have me bamboozled. If you have any ideas about the names I have failed to translate then please feel free to leave a comment on this post.

My map is only possible because of the Stanford Libraries. They have created an IIIF manifest of Corpus Christi College's original manuscript of Matthew Paris' map. I have therefore been able to use Leaflet-IIIF, a simple to use plug-in for using IIIF manifests in Leaflet, to create a Leaflet.js map from the IIIF manifest of Matthew Paris' map.


Sam E said...

This is great Keir! I wondered if the settlement between Newark and Doncaster - labeled I think as 'Blie' is Blyth?


The village has a Benedictine Priory (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blyth_Priory).

Out of interest, is there a reason you haven't gone for the larger map by Matthew Paris (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/44/Britannienkarte_des_Matthew_Paris.jpg) , is it a rights thing?

Sam E said...

Also - 'Grismbi' (I think!) on the east coast at the mouth of the Humber is Grismby.
North of 'Grismbi' is Beverlac as was or modern day Beverley.
Further up the coast I think is 'Scartebure' or Scarborough and then north of that is 'Witebi' or modern day Whitby but the map is confusing here as it looks as though Paris places it at the mouth of the Tees whereas it is actually at the mouth of the Esk

Keir Clarke said...

Hi Sam, check out this other (more recent) annotated Matthew Paris map - https://historiacartarum.org/annotated-claudius-map/
It includes more place-names than my version and also a more complete copy of the map. According to this map you are correct about Blyth.