UK: Through the Linguistic Geographies project, researchers from the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s College London created a fully interactive, digital, online version of Gough Map. It is available at https://www.goughmap.org/. It uses fluid zooming, panning and pop-ups features.
The map has enabled researchers to offer a re-interpretation of its origins, purpose and production, which have up to now been shrouded in mystery. It had previously been thought the map dated back to 1360, but detailed analysis of the small differences in English handwriting over the period has shown that it was actually first produced in 1375.
The Gough Map is drawn on two pieces of sheepskin and is around 45-inch long. It shows Great Britain on its side, before the convention of maps pointing north, and details green rivers and red-roofed cathedrals. Paul Vetch, from the Department of Digital Humanities at King’s, said: “The Gough Map is a fascinating document from any number of different disciplinary perspectives – history, linguistics, palaeography, cartography, to name but a few – and our aim was to try and deliver it in a way which would make it available for as many modes of interrogation as possible.”
Paul Vetch added: “One of our primary aims was to make this hugely significant Map accessible to as wide an audience as possible. Using web-based maps (like Google Maps or Bing) has become second nature for most of us now, and we aimed to publish the Map online in a format that would be equally intuitive and easy for people to use.”
The fully searchable Map allows users to browse by place name – both current and medieval – but also by geographical features. Highlighting a location enables viewers to click on it and bring up a fact box revealing all sorts of information from geographical appearance to the etymology of the place name – even a cross reference to the real Google maps.
The team now hopes that the digitised Gough Map will be used by other researchers to develop further lines of enquiry on the Map and on other medieval maps and mapmaking.
Source: King’s College London