Saturday, March 07, 2020

Interactive Medieval Maps

The Virtual Mappa Project allows you to browse and search a collection of interactive annotated medieval maps. There are currently 13 maps in the collection including the Hereford Map, the Cotton World Map, the Psalter Maps, the Sawley Map, the Higden Maps, the Mission T & O Maps and the Tournai Map of Asia.

Each of the medieval maps in the Virtual Mappa Project includes a descriptive introduction, explaining the map's importance, an overview of its history and an overview of how the map depicts the world. Each maps also has a detailed bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

The digital images of each of the maps are all in high resolution which means that you are able to zoom-in and examine each map in close detail. All the maps are annotated with interactive highlights which provide information on the mapped locations. These interactive highlights are color-coded to show different kinds of content, such as inscriptions, later additions, erasures and graphic features.

The Virtual Mappa Project also has a great search engine which allows you to search for locations and features across all thirteen maps in the collection.

The Hereford Mappa Mundi is the largest surviving medieval map of the world. The map is on display in Hereford Cathedral, UK. The map dates from around 1300 and depicts the world as it was believed to exist at that time by most Europeans. Jerusalem sits at the center of this world, east is at the top and west is at the bottom. Hereford Cathedral's own Mappa Mundi website also allows you to explore and examine an interactive annotated version of the map.

You can learn more about the medieval world as depicted in the Hereford Map from the Mapping Manderville project. The Mapping Mandeville project is an inspired idea to map medieval geographical knowledge onto a medieval map of the world.  The project maps excerpts from The Travels of Sir John Mandeville onto an interactive version of the medieval Hereford Map.

'The Travels of Sir John Mandeville' is a fourteenth century fantastical tale of the travels of a supposed English knight, called Sir John Mandeville, throughout the known world. As a work of fiction the tales draw heavily from medieval ideas about geography and the world map as it was known at the time. The Mapping Mandeville Project has therefore plotted excerpts from the tales not on a modern map of the world but on the Hereford Mappa Mundi.

The Oxford Outremer Map is a thirteenth-century map of Israel and Palestine. The map also encompasses parts of modern day Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. The map seems to depict the region sometime between 1229 and 1244 - when Christians had control of Jerusalem. The map itself was probably built to aide European pilgrims to Jerusalem.

The Fordham Medieval Digital Projects has created an interactive version of the Oxford Outremer Map. The digital version of the map includes interactive place-names. If you click on these interactive place-names on the map you can read a translation, a brief description and a link to view this location on a modern digital map.

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

I therefore created this Annotated Matthew Paris Map of Britain to help modern users navigate Paris' medieval map. 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 now know as 'York'.

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