Hereford Cathedral’s Commercial Director a first saw this amazing artefact from 1300, aged 8,  he also visited as a student to help arrange an exhibition for Mappa Mundi,20 years on he is still there…In this short video he describes this wonder as ‘intriguing.’ We think you might agree. 

Definitely in our Intriguing Mapping collection, it is one of the earliest and will help us mark moments across our Timeline to show how significant the Art of Mapping is in understanding our history.

It is still housed in an environmentally controlled glass case. There were many but this is the only one left in one piece. It is variously dated between 1285 and 1314 and was originally an altarpiece.

Created at the time with more intriguing connections;

  • Dante was writing the Divine Comedy beginning in 1307
  • Shortly before the Battle of of Bannockburn in 1314
  • When Robert the Bruce was King of Scotland 1306-1329
  • Henry VII is crowned Holy Roman Emperor in 1312
  • the downfall and final suppression of the Knights Templar between 1307 and 1312

This captures the Medieval World right on the cusp of the dawn of the Age of Discovery, whilst other smaller Mappa Mundi exist this is the largest.

More Intriguing Artefacts at Hereford Cathedral: Impressive and significant 18th century texts are held in the Chained Library not least of which includes an important revision of Magna Carta see here for link to the related timeline and events in respect of this document.

  • The charter agreed at Runnymede was only the beginning of the story.
  • Magna Carta went through a number of revisions and reissues before being enshrined in English statute law in 1297.
  • The most significant revision of Magna Carta was issued by Henry III in 1217.
  • Hereford Cathedral is fortunate to possess one of these 1217 charters only four of which survive.

And herein lies another Intriguing History connection, in that it was the rights of the common man that were first expressed in Magna Carter and enshrined as the basis of English democracy but there is more…the connection of greatest importance is to the Age of Enlightenment and then onwards to the establishment of the bill of Rights and it’s incorporation as an unassailable right of every American…

‘No free man shall be arrested, imprisoned, dispossessed, outlawed, exiled or in anyway victimised, or attacked except by the lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land’

In articles and mapped posts on the Age of Enlightenment you can see that via the thinking of the Philosopher John Locke and others, this right becomes almost verbatum adopted into the American Bill of Rights.

So the Mappa Mundi, Magna Carta and Hereford has led us to yet more intriguing connections. If you too map your history, make connections we believe it will help lead you and your history project onto deeper and greater insights whatever your area of interest. As our geographer friends constantly tell us more than 80% of all human knowledge is location related and hence the significance and relevance of maps.  With there is ‘nothing knew under the sun’ maybe we should think of Maps as the earliest Big Data project and form of the very fashionable ‘Big Data’ and ‘Data Visualisations’ which are now capable of rapid generation using the wonders of this connected world.

Why not go see the Mappa Mundi at Hereford Cathedral.


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