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Cartographica Helvetica


Arthur Dürst:

Manuscript map of Western Europe from c. 1200

Cartographica Helvetica 20 (1999) 35–38


Giraldus Cambrensis (c. 1146–1223) was the author of the significant publication Topographia Hibernica, a description of Ireland and its population. Several manuscripts have been preserved.

The manuscript at the National Library of Ireland, which was acquired only in 1946, contains a map of Western Europe from around 1200. This is probably a contemporary map copied from a mappamundi, and is based on continental rather than on Anglo-Norman sources. It has also been interpreted as a pilgrim map, a rough guide for travelers going from England to Rome. The map, measuring c. 18 x 23 cm, is oriented to the east and drawn on parchment. The representation of Europe is somewhat schematic, however, the respective positions and sizes of Ireland, England, Wales, and Scotland are fairly realistic.

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