[Image: Fragment of the Gough Map]
[Image: Fragment of the Gough Map]

Linguistic Geographies: The Gough Map of Great Britain

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Conference programme and paper abstracts

The following are summaries of the papers presented at The Language of Maps colloquium, as well as an outline of the programme and its four main sessions that ran from June 23 to June 25 2011.

Thursday June 23 2011

Session 1 - Dialogues (Chair: Keith Lilley)

Maps, dialogue and truth
Rose Mitchell and Bill Shannon (The National Archives, London; University of Lancaster)

Maps are often seen as monologue, one-way communication from map creator to audience. Using mainly sixteenth century examples in The National Archives, this paper explores maps as dialogue, multiple maps of the same place expressing different viewpoints, raising questions about the degree of ‘truth’ they embody. Medieval and Renaissance local manuscript maps are rare, yet surviving examples often come in pairs, or even threes. These maps were copied for different purposes: they may illustrate aspects of the mapmaking process, for example between draft and fair copy, or a map deemed ‘not sufficiently true’ may have required another to be made. An earlier map may communicate across time, when retrieved for later revision. Comparison of multiple maps from legal cases reveals their selectivity in dismissing or ignoring the perspective of the other party, and using different ‘language’ of colour, symbol, text and context in their presentation. By the late sixteenth century, while opposing views were still represented separately, their arguments were increasingly depicted on one map. What does this move towards description rather than diatribe say about the process of arriving at a ‘true view’ of landscape? Study of these known instances of multiple maps may cause us to re-examine our view of other early modern maps. Might some now singleton examples have originally been part of a wider conversation? If so, we may need to revise our notions of what they represent in terms of ‘truth’, and more generally about map-making processes in the sixteenth century.

Making maps for lawyers: Nicolas Dipre, a painter at work circa 1500
Paul Fermon (E.P.H.E. Paris)

Nicolas Dipre (born in Paris, known in Avignon until 1530) is one of the main painters of the Avignon artistic school during the end of the 15th century and the beginning of the 16th century. Known for his altarpieces, he is also the author of several secular works for the authorities of Provence and Comtat Venaissin such as painted settings, signs, escutcheons and maps. Avignon council sources indicate how five cartographic documents were drawn by this author from 1499 to 1502. Each of them was conceived to illustrate trials for the consuls of this town. In 1514 again, the painter made a tall watercolour landscape map on a parchment which the Vaucluse department archives have kept until now. Drawn during a judicial inquiry, it represents the Rhône Valley for the Grand conseil of king Louis XII. By studying the life of Nicolas Dipre, we will be acquainted with the cartograph painter figure during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. So we will question the status of the map, which takes here the form of painted landscapes, as a means to judge litigation assessments. The six cartographic works of the Dipre file will then allow us to analyze the painter modus operandi while he is working for lawyers.

The rhetoric of sea power and the decoration of Renaissance maps
Richard Unger (University of British Columbia),

The frontispiece of The General and Rare Memorials Pertaining to the Perfecte Art of Navigation (1577) by the English scientist and promoter of exploration, John Dee, brought together two trends of the previous two hundred years. First, on the stylized map Elizabeth I sits high on the stern of a ship commanding the seas over which her vessel sails. The image, probably based on a float from mid century Antwerp with Charles V as the monarch, reflects the growing rhetoric about rulers taking control over the waters around their kingdoms. While the language was influenced by classical models, the idea was floated in northern Europe as early as the late fourteenth century. Second, the introduction of ships as decoration on maps began about then too. The practice spread so that by the reign of Elizabeth I maps of all types had vessels as illustration. The choice of decoration depended on the ideas of sponsors and, as a commercial market in maps developed, on the developing tastes and interests of a larger population. Interest in geography, which rapidly became part of the learned tradition among humanists, and which included a concern for sea power, accompanied the expansion of knowledge about the lands of the earth. Expressed in texts, that knowledge and the interest in command of the seas was also expressed in the language of cartographic illustration. The ships that dotted the waters on maps reflected the expanding rhetoric of maritime domination which was part of the emerging naval power of Europe and its nascent states.

Interpretive projections: sixteenth-century Italian painted maps and their printed sources
Mark Rosen (University of Texas at Dallas),

During the late sixteenth century, paintings of maps (usually in fresco) appeared regularly on the walls of ducal palaces, villas, and private homes, often in groups or cycles representing the entirety of the known world or pairing the local territory with some place of symbolic or political import (the Holy Land, for example). Although many such cycles were destroyed or repainted over time, several important cycles of the late sixteenth century remain intact, mostly in Italy (in the Vatican Palace, in the Palazzo Vecchio of Florence, and at the Villa Farnese at Caprarola). Often placed alongside allegorical, political, and historical imagery, these painted maps rarely signified alone as pure markers of geographical knowledge; rather, they served to indicate dominion, humility, faith, and authority, depending on the context. In contrast to circulating printed maps, such depictions of far-flung territories in painted cartographic images invariably reflected the large-scale ambitions or local anxieties of the sovereigns that commissioned them. This paper comparing the surviving painted map cycles with their printed sources (by cartographers like Ortelius and Gastaldi) emphasizes how painted maps borrowed from, elided, or rejected the discourse of contemporary printed maps (especially of regions whose exploration was still ongoing) and the way the uniqueness of their single iteration within the palace walls communicated equally to an artistically and geographically literate audience.

Medieval maps of the Holy Land: aims, communication and impact
Paul Harvey (Durham),

Palestine is the only area for which we have anything like a series of regional maps from the Middle Ages: some twenty-five artefacts survive from the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, presenting seven different maps. The paper will look at the way the area is shown on these regional maps as well as on contemporary world maps and portolan charts, examining what the makers of these various kinds of map intended to tell the user and how this was achieved. While information might clearly be taken from one kind of map to another, each had rather different aims which affected the way the information was presented. Passing from the map maker to the map user, we will discuss why there was a public for these regional maps and how this public actually used them.

Friday June 24 2011

Session 2 – Narratives (Chair: Nick Millea)

Narrative and meta-narrative in the map of the Holy Land (Oxford, Bodl. Ms. Douce 389)
Pnina Arad (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem),

“He who has seen Judea in his own eyes…will gaze more clearly upon Holy Scriptures”, said Jerome in the fourth century (Patrologia Latina 29, 401). “With the eye of faith”, in Jerome’s words (Epistle 108:10), the faithful could see visions of biblical events and even participate in the sacred drama. Like the territory itself, a medieval map of the Holy Land evokes what no eye could ever see. It offers an image representing history and theology on top of geography, referring simultaneously to past and present. Based on narrative pieces, biblical and other, the map generates a meta-narrative for the land. It establishes a new space of visibility, suggesting ways of thinking as well as seeing. One can even define the Holy Land map as an icon; an iconic image of an iconic landscape. The capability of the Holy Land map to lead the viewer to a high level of ‘mystical witnessing’ may be one of the reasons that fifteenth century pilgrims accompanied their itineraries with maps of the whole country though they visited only a restricted area around Jerusalem. These maps were not meant to communicate any actual pilgrimage route but rather to convey the holy mystery of the land. I discuss the emblematic image of the land offered by such a map with reference to Ms. Douce 389, a fourteenth century map associated with the English pilgrim William Wey. This map is my point of departure in proposing to introduce the map of the Holy Land into the category of late medieval devotional imagery.

“Prepare also the mappa mundi”: mapping on the stage in the Chester Mystery Cycle
Meagan Loftin (University of Washington),

The Early Banns (BL: Harley 2150) of the Chester Mystery Cycle instruct the Drapers to “loke that paradyce be all redye/Prepare also the mappa mundi” for their play of the creation, the story of Adam and Eve, and also Cain and Abel. Considering first the language and stage directions, this paper examines the ways in which the Draper’s play presents a map of paradise and earth on the English stage. Examining the play as a map, it is important to also consider the cycle’s early (false) attribution to the chorographer, chronicler, and monk in Chester Ranulf Higden. Higden sets out in the first book of the Polychronicon to provide a map of the world for his reader just as the cycle’s second play provides its audience with the “mappa mundi.” The paper also closely compares the language of the Chester cycle’s “Adam and Eve” play to similar plays in the York, Wakefield and N‐Town cycles whose focus tends toward the motivations for the fall rather as opposed to Chester’s focus on the language of land and earth. Additionally, I question how the map on stage reflects medieval Chester, its location in England and contemporaneous cartographic representations. Finally, the paper examines the effect on the audience of this type of cartographic representation versus bringing a physical map on stage as is done in Shakespeare’s King Lear and Henry IV Prt 1.

Linguistic geographies: three centuries of language, script and cartography in the Gough map of Great Britain
Elizabeth Solopova (Oxford)

The paper will present the results of a new linguistic and paleographical study of the medieval Gough map of Great Britain. Scholars have previously believed that the map was largely (with some exceptions) a work of a single scribe. My recent investigation of the manuscript, as part of the AHRC-funded ‘Linguistic Geographies’ project, suggests that it was produced in the 1370s, but extensively revised in the first quarter or the first thirty years of the 15th century. The map reflects contemporary language, traditions of literacy and cartography, and geo-political outlooks of both its original creators and its 15th-century users. In addition it almost certainly incorporates geographical knowledge and political aspirations which had already developed in the 13th century. This complex document fully partakes in the textual fluidity of late medieval manuscript culture, and can be understood only as an evolving image and text, incorporating layers of language and meaning from across three centuries of medieval English history.

The Behaim Globe: a literary map of late medieval and early modern geographic thought
Meg Roland (Marylhurst University)

Mandeville’s Travels is a literary ‘multi-text,” originally written in Anglo Norman and subsequently translated into Latin and multiple European languages during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. It appeared in a wide variety of redactions in manuscript and printed text and was first printed in English by Wynkyn de Worde in 1495. The textual history of the work also includes a geographic/ethnic iconography that became part of the visual images of the Behaim Globe, produced in 1492, and includes, for example, images of sciapods and of Prester John. But in addition to its visual debt to a literary text, the Behaim Globe also includes textual citations, inscribed across the continents and seas, from Mandeville’s Travels, Marco Polo’s Travels, and Ptolemy’s Geography, thus functioning as a form of literary geography as well as a map. The Behaim Globe was the resulting product of mercantile civic pride in the city of Nuremburg, technical and artistic craftsmanship, and the geographical knowledge of Martin Behaim, specifically identified as the “author” of the globe. The globe continues the medieval and classical traditions of narrative geography, including the presence of the mirabilia, or Wonders of the East. However, the globe’s use of medieval geography is situated within a new framework of Ptolemaic-based representations of the world: the globe is oriented to the north, Jerusalem is no longer the center of the world, continents are shaped based on Ptolemaic calculations, latitude and longitude are represented, and Ptolemy is cited as one of the geographic authorities of the globe. In addition, the continent of Africa is shaped by emerging information based on Portuguese exploration and trade expeditions. As a synthesis of late medieval and early modern geographic thought, the globe raises intriguing questions about the complexities of map making in this transitional period. This paper will focus specifically on the literary language of the Behaim Globe and, more broadly, explore the relationship between literature and maps in constructing new models of geographic thought in the late medieval and early modern period. Apropos for the focus of this colloquium on the Gough map, the Behaim globe draws upon a literary narrative contemporaneous with the Gough map (Mandeveille’s Travels were first published in 1357-1371), re-imagining fourteenth-century geographic thought within an emerging Ptolemaic and early modern paradigm.

The polyglot map: a sixteenth-century French forest map and its graphic language(s)
Camille Serchuk (Southern Connecticut State University)

This paper explores the pictorial rhetoric of a French map made around 1540, which was drawn to settle a dispute among property owners in the Forest of Thelle, in Picardy, concerning an abuse of logging privileges. The map discharged its task—to obviate a journey by the adjudicator to examine the boundaries—in meticulous and occasionally preposterous detail. It shows the extent of the forest and its resources—arable land, orchards, pasture, mills and workshops—and the local towns and chateaux. Framing the forest are cavalier views of the cities of the region, including Paris, Rouen, and Amiens. A polyglot din of graphic languages manipulates and elaborates the content and style(s) of the map, which juxtaposes vernacular landscape and official legal geographies, urban and rural spaces, and Italianate and Northern European modes of representing the natural world. The exhaustive detail testified to the eyewitness observation of the mapmakers, which in turn conferred authority on the map as an official document. The prominence of the local chateaux satisfied the vanity of the litigants and invited their complicity with the legal process. The stylish cityscapes that surround the map assured the landowners that their properties were central and significant, rather than peripheral and provincial. Likewise, the mapmakers’ evident fluency in the language(s) of “high” or “fine” art in this map placed them and their work at the heart of European artistic discourse. Each layer of information is rendered in a distinct style and perspective and eloquently communicated the multiple dimensions of the map’s status, its form, authority and meaning.

Session 3 – Readings (Chair: Elizabeth Solopova)

Mapping surface and structure beyond the sea
Galia Halpern (New York University)

Throughout the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, a variety of emergent regional mapping practices communicated local utilitarian uses of the map. Scholars today link aesthetic differences between these maps to their discrete operations. Function served as the basis for their physical construction. My paper investigates the circulation of representational devices employed in these maps when they moved between localities, and hence, between functions. This movement destabilizes the relationship between map construction and aesthetics. Specifically, I look at the structuring mechanism of the portolan chart as it left the ship and moved inland – to the collections of aristocrats and the studies of scholastics. Tony Campbell and Gilles Deleuze identify maritime charts as a necessary, revolutionary form of spatializing the world-image with concurrent visual-ideological transformations. The chart’s distantiated, satellite-like outline of the Mediterranean had its basis in a series of embodied physical measurements that sailors reported from their travels in each of the sea’s basins. Patched together by the skill of the cartographer, the Mediterranean image has consequently been framed as the direct extension of maritime science. Stripped of their original use and methods of construction, however, extant maps such as the Catalan Atlas and the (reconstructed) Vienna-Klosterneuburg Schyfkarten produced analogous portolan outlines coupled with what has traditionally been perceived of as “errors”: off-kilter rhumb-line networks, poorly aligned compass roses, misplaced cities. What do the surface treatment and underlying structure of these new maps tell us about wider trends in visual culture throughout late-Medieval Europe?

A Catholic concordance? Olaus Magnus and the Biblical citations on the Carta Marina
Margaret Small (Birmingham)

Olaus Magnus’ Carta Marina of 1539 has attracted attention for its depiction and for the technical aspect of its printing, It is a map of that has aspects of medieval and aspects of early modern mapping. Scholars have largely overlooked, however, the biblical citations written above the images of each of the monarchs of the countries shown on the map. These must be read in conjunction with both the biblical contexts of the citations and the political contexts of the kings. For instance, above the Image of the King of Norway who is looking towards the King of Sweden is the statement “Nemo accipiat Coronam Tuam from Revelations 3:12. – no-one shall take your crown. Norway at the time was ruled by the Danish King Christian III, yet here seems to be a clear statement, tied to a biblical one, that the two should have separate crowns. Other quotes seem less purely political and more linked to Olaus’s own proselytising Catholicism, as Catholic kings are given laudatory quotes, Protestant ones condemnatory ones. The Carta Marina has its own literal textual language, much of which is unambiguous in its reading, but a further understanding is given to the language of the map, when it is read in the context of Olaus’s other work, the History of the Northern Peoples which fills out the language of the map. Olaus Magnus saw geography as a means of Catholic (if not always entirely orthodox propaganda) and he used both maps and texts to promote his doctrine.

Fra Mauro’s Mappa mundi within the fifteenth-century ‘Question of Language’ in Venice. The role of the Camaldolese Order
Angelo Cattaneo (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)

One of the most significant characteristics of the narrative structure of Fra Mauro’s mappa mundi (Venice, c. 1450), regards the language chosen by the cosmographer: the Venetian vernacular. Indeed, it is essential to consider the language used in the preparation of the mappa mundi in order to understand the precise relationship between the author and his public. What difference is there between writing a cosmographic work in Latin versus the vulgate? Does the author’s attitude towards his readership alter as a result of the change in his audience? Can we be certain that two different publics were implicated by this language choice? Did writing in the vernacular necessarily result in an impoverishment of the content? These are a few of the issues that will be tackled in my paper. Fra Mauro’s choice of the vernacular is highly meaningful in light of the history of Venetian culture, and above all in the context of the production of vernacular books that was characteristic of Murano’s Camaldolese monasteries in the fifteenth and the early sixteenth centuries. In this period, the Camaldolese monasteries of San Mattia and San Michele in Murano redacted some of the most fundamental works to have ever emerged from the Venetian vernacular cultural production of the fifteenth century. In the same years that Fra Mauro was preparing his mappa mundi, a fellow friar, Mauro Lapi († 1482), began to edit a Laudario that preserves one of the most complete collections of praises in the vulgate in the history of Italian literature. The first print editions in the vulgate of the Bible and Jacopo da Varagine’s Golden Legend were also carried out by a Camaldolese monk from the monastery of San Mattia di Murano, Nicolò Malerbi (1422-1481), who died while staying at the monastery of San Michele. Considered in light of contemporary production in the vulgate among the Camaldolese monasteries in Venice, the mappa mundi can be recognized as an authentic cultural enterprise comparable to the vernacularizations of the Bible, the Lives of the Saints and the Laudario. Rather than a public “unlettered in Latin,” Fra Mauro and the other Camaldolese translators seem to address a public composed of “readers in the vulgate.” These are not interchangeable terms. In a bi-lingual system such as was the Medieval one, the two categories often coincide, but not always and not of necessity.

Furnishing the soul: mappaemundi and church tabula
Dan Terkla (Illinois Wesleyan University)

This talk responds to this colloquium’s primary question: “How do they work?” Here “they” indicates mappaemundi from the florescent age of Anglo-French cartography, the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. This talk suggests that one way to get at how these maps translated information from their makers to their audiences is to consider them in the context of another word-and-image hybrid, the church tabula. Thanks to scholars like M.R. James, Gordon Hall Gerould and, more recently, Nigel Morgan, Paul Binski, Pamela Tudor-Craig, and Vincent Gillespie, we know that England led the way in the design and manufacture of church tabulae, which were used, among other things, as altar frontals and reredos. They were often decorated with Marian images and set in Lady Chapels. Like the Hereford map-in-triptych (which was situated in the cathedral’s Lady Chapel and which we might call a Marian map, given its prominent image of the Mater mediatrix) many tabulae were made of painted parchment attached to wooden boards that folded open. Like mappaemundi, some tables were purely textual, others purely pictorial, while others combined the two sign systems. Like their cartographical cousins, tabulae served various audiences working at various levels of literacy and were used for edification, devotion, and as sources of historical information. These pieces of edificatory furniture decorated English churches of all sizes, from Oxney, a Peterborough cell, to York Minster and were used at places with world maps, places like Durham and the abbeys of St. Albans, Evesham, and Waltham. This talk suggests that drawing analogies between the creation, placement, and use of tabulae and mappaemundi provides new perspectives on how the visual and textual languages of maps like those at Hereford, Ashridge (where I argue that the Duchy of Cornwall map resided), and Merton College, Oxford, communicated with their audiences, lay and religious.

The Jewish-Muslim-Polytheistic idol on the altar: the Hereford Map and the construction of the Other
Asa Mittman (California State University, Chico)

This paper would discuss a curious, fraught image of idol-worship on the Hereford World Map, produced in England around 1300. This massive, encyclopedic sheet has been seen as a terrestrial map, a universal map, a biblical compendium, a history, and on. In the south-east quadrant of the world, in Arabia, between the two arms of the Red Sea, we find the Jews, a mass of four men in vaguely monastic robes, kneeling in prayer before an altar on which squats Mahun, an ugly, twisting calf that is, despite the prevalent use of gold throughout them map, decidedly not golden. The calf-idol is raising its hind leg to defecate on the altar. The image of the defecating polytheistic-Jewish-Islamic Calf-Muhammad is animate, but ought not be so; it is a man-made thing, but it acts. The image could only function as it does by being contained within the geohistorical framework of medieval cartography, a construct that allows for the smooth imbrications of times (contemporary and past) and places (there and here). By looking at this figure, and then zooming out to consider the massive map, as a whole, I hope to disentangle this complex, aggregate image, and its implications for our understanding of medieval England. In doing so, I hope to also provide a point of reflection on our own present context, and its contemporary depictions of non-Christians.

Saturday June 25 2011

Session 4 – Scripting (Chair: Paul Vetch)

Medieval map-mindedness—Renaissance ‘map consciousness’
Catherine Delano Smith (Institute of Historical Research, London)

According to a now-fashionable trope, one of the many differences that separated the medieval from the early modern period was ‘map consciousness’. We are told that the Middle Ages were virtually ‘map free’ and that it was the 1550s before ‘map consciousness’ spread into the educated classes. While such comments are by no means invalid, the lack of the critical qualification (the kind of map in question) or amplification (what about map use in the learned classes?) is misleading. In this paper I seek to redress the balance between map use in the medieval and early modern periods by drawing attention to the map-mindedness of the medieval learned classes, those in the monasteries, universities and courts of western Europe, that is manifested in, above all, drawing for textual exegesis in particular and in explanation in general. For a millennium and more before the sixteenth century, scholarly monks and ecclesiastics were drawing maps and plans as aids in the explanation of biblical and scientific texts, while those at court might deploy a map to make a political or, as land holders like the monks also, a legal point. It is, I argue, only the topological structure and characteristically diagrammatic style of these maps and plans that sets them into a different cartographic category from the ‘maps’ of the sixteenth century, which are (we are left to assume by the trope) the Ptolemaic kind, structured on Euclidean geometry and compiled from astronomically measured latitude and longitude. Maps, as we know, are almost infinitely varied in form and function; it is all the more important always to specify the kind of map as well as the nature of the user in question. Maps styled expressly for explanation are arguably at the apogee of cartographic communication; by ignoring a long and proportionally rich and varied history of map use prior to the modern period we are in danger of impoverishing our subject, the history of maps and mapping.

Abstract shapes, physical spaces: the use of theoretical geometry in Byzantine surveyor’s maps
Jesse Simon (University College, Oxford)

For many, the word ‘geometry’ may call to mind so many chalk-boards filled with squares, triangles and formulae; however, the origins of the word, and indeed of the science itself, are implicitly linked to the actual measurement of the earth. In the Byzantine world of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, that link became apparent once again as ancient treatises on theoretical geometry – primarily that of Heron of Alexandria – were repurposed as primers on land assessment. My paper examines how these geometrical texts may have affected the cartographic perceptions of those surveyors charged with recording local-area landholdings. Specifically, I would like to argue that the reliance on geometrical texts may have led to a process of abstraction whereby the complex shapes of the land were reduced on the page to more easily identifiable shapes. The paper will draw largely on a small corpus of Byzantine geometrical treatises thought to originate in the eleventh century, as well as a poem attributed to Psellos which describes the surveyor at work in the landscape. Although there are no surviving examples of the drawings made by surveyors, an analysis of the abovementioned texts may at least allow us to propose some reconstructions. More broadly, by examining the cartographic understanding of the Byzantine surveyor, this paper hopes to draw some conclusions about the interrelationship between physical space, textual description and pictorial representation; and in doing so, it hopes to contribute to the growing discussion on spatial perception and cartographical thought in the larger medieval world.

Rectifying the real: digital bias and early historical maps
Martin Foys (Drew University)

This paper studies general tendencies in first-wave digital cartographic studies toward both geospatial-rectification and the recycling of the historical form for new exteriorized content. Much of early approaches to applying digital technology to maps of the past typifies a desire to fit them within the reality of today’s physical, mensurable geography, promoting the viewing of such material through a lens synonymous with a modern, measured, plotted sense of space. Another common technological trope for the cartographic past is remediate an old map by rewriting its representational topography as a container for data external original operation and meaning. Such modes, of course are quite valuable, but they often subordinate both form and function of early historical maps to current notions of geospatial representation and reality. They also unwittingly represent a tacit, largely unexamined assumption about what maps of the past mean to us today. What yet remains largely unfulfilled is the fundamental impulse to better excavate and correlate the details of early historical maps, which now can be accomplished though a large-scale networked datascape of map, text and object impossible to realize in older media of study. This paper will first briefly survey aspects of rectification and recycling in existing digital resources. It will then examine with specific regard to medieval maps the early, incremental efforts of second-wave resources to create datascapes of early historical maps through database and open annotation schemes, including coordinate-based editing and large-scale topic modeling, as exemplified by the ‘Digital Mappaemundi’ project (U.S: Drew University) and the ‘mappae: Cognitive Maps of the Middle Ages’ project (Germany: Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg).

Quantifying revolution: mapping lineages in British cartography
Keith Lilley, Chris Lloyd and Catherine Porter (Queen’s University Belfast)

This paper reexamines the idea that a ‘revolution’ occurred in European maps and map-making during the sixteenth century, and seeks to question the orthodoxy held among geographers and historians that a new “cartographic consciousness” emerged as ‘scientific’ and ‘accurate’ modes of surveying and cartography came to replace earlier practices of medieval map-makers. This ‘normative history’ of European cartography is based upon a longstanding tradition of qualitative studies of manuscript and printed maps, but in this paper we take a different approach that quantifies the extent to which English maps changed from the Middle Ages onwards, mapping out their cartographic ‘lineages’. By combining digital technologies and spatial statistics, we shall use both the Gough Map and Angliae Figura to measure, quantitatively, how similar or different the two maps are as far as their geographical content and cartographic precision are concerned. We seek to address how innovative particular past map-makers really were, and the degrees to which they borrowed from earlier maps in order to create new ones. To do so, the locations of places shown on the maps are used in combination with modern geographical co-ordinates to quantify the cartographic ‘veracity’ of each, using statistical methods such as bidimensional regression. This then provides a basis to compare how maps change over time, using distortion grids and other statistical outputs to characterise each map. In these spatial analyses, then, the content of the maps is analysed to assess (i) what is represented and (ii) how it is represented. This then allows further assessment of the possible connections that existed between maps and their cartographers, allowing us to explore how maps borrowed information from each other, or reflected innovations in mapping Britain, hence testing – quantitatively – how far a cartographic revolution divides the ‘medieval’ and ‘modern’ age.