Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi

Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi – The Folio Society – Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, United Kingdom)

Lincoln or Hereford (United Kingdom) — 1285–1295

A mixture of geography, biblical worldview and secular history with a diameter of 132 cm: the largest completely preserved medieval world map and now a UNESCO World Heritage Site

  1. The largest fully preserved medieval world map is stored today in Hereford Cathedral

  2. Although a typical mixture of biblical and world history and geography, it has the large diameter of 132 cm

  3. It shows the east-oriented medieval worldview, but also names 420 cities, reflecting contemporary events

Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi

Facsimile Copy Available!
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  1. Description
  2. Detail Picture
  3. Single Page
  4. Facsimile Editions (1)
Description
Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi

The famous Hereford World Map counts as “the largest fully-preserved medieval mappa mundi” of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. A mappa mundi is a special world map that is less interested in accurate geography than in presenting a schematic representation of the medieval worldview. This fine specimen originated in England at the end of the 13th century at the behest of Richard of Haldingham and Lafford. This high-ranking cleric, canon of Lincoln and Hereford, wished for a typical map of that time in a mixture of biblical and world history and geography. What is completely exceptional on the other hand is the format of his mappa mundi with a diameter of 132 cm. The Hereford Mappa Mundi shows the picture of world according to the perception of the Middle Ages, but also allows – e.g. through the naming of 420 cities – for an interesting inside view of the historic circumstances of the time. An all-around fascinating example of the history of cartography!

Hereford World Map - Mappa Mundi

The famous Hereford World Map counts as “the largest fully-preserved medieval mappa mundi of UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. A mappa mundi is a special world map that is less interested in accurate geography than in presenting a schematic representation of the medieval worldview. This fine specimen originated in England at the end of the 13th century at the behest of Richard of Haldingham and Lafford. This high-ranking cleric, canon of Lincoln and Hereford, wished for a typical map of that time in a mixture of biblical and world history and geography. What is completely exceptional on the other hand is the format of his mappa mundi with a diameter of 132 cm. The Hereford Mappa Mundishows a picture of the world according to the perception of the Middle Ages, but also allows – e.g. through the naming of 420 cities – for an interesting inside view of the historic circumstances of the time. An all-around fascinating example of the history of cartography!

A Significant Clerical Commission

Richard of Haldingham and Lafford (deceased after 1313), also known as Richard de Bello, was the canon of Lincoln and after 1305 Hereford as well. He was the famous patron of the Hereford Mappa Mundi. This unique world map probably originated in England ca. 1285–1295. The image of the world from the perspective of the Middle Ages was depicted on a piece of calf-vellum shaped like a square topped with a triangle and measuring 165 x 135 cm. This world map – the round mappa mundi has a diameter of 132 cm – has been part of the Memory of the World Register since 2007. Its exceptional status and indescribable historical worth were explicitly acknowledged in this way.

Religion at the Center

The Hereford Mappa Mundi presents itself as a unique work resulting from a mix of history and geography. This map is not so much obliged by geography as its example, but is based much more on the biblical creation story, something inconceivable for our modern habitudes. This is associated with the medieval world view. Thus Jerusalem, the Holy City, is pictured in the middle of the depiction. Additionally, the map is east-oriented, so North does not lie on the upper margin, but East instead. Biblical rivers and bodies of water like the Tigris and Euphrates, the Jordan and the Sea of Galilee, but also the Persian Gulf and the Indus River are depicted.

A Map of the Real and the Fantastic

The Hereford Mappa Mundi, which is found today in the collection of Hereford Castle in Western England, is only comparable in its significance with the Ebstorf Map, which no longer exists. The Hereford Mappa Mundi presents a comprehensive depiction of the world. 420 cities are depicted here altogether. There are also biblical and mythical depictions, drawings of the peoples of the Earth, of plants, animals, and fantastic creatures illustrate this mappa mundi. Thus, for example, the Mediterranean is depicted with Constantinople, Troy, Crete, and other islands. The cities of Rome and Paris are particularly emphasized in Europe. Gorgeously figurative depictions illustrate the geographic indications. Found alongside biblical figures and stories (the Garden of Eden, Noah’s Ark, or the Tower of Bable) are also depictions of Gog and Magog, the Golden Flies, or country-specific symbols. The fascination of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, the largest surviving medieval mappa mundi today, comes from this mix of geography, biblical stories, and country-specific depictions.

Codicology

Alternative Titles
Hereford Mappa Mundi
Hereford-Karte
Hereford-Karte: Mappa Mundi
Hereforder Weltkarte
Size / Format
1 map / 165.0 × 135.0 cm
Date
1285–1295
Style
Script
Gothic Textura Semiquadrata
Content
Largest fully preserved medieval world map
Artist / School

Available facsimile editions:
Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi – The Folio Society – Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, United Kingdom)
The Folio Society – London, 2010
Limited Edition: 1000 copies
Detail Picture

Hereford World Map

Monopod

Greek in origin, a monopod is a mythological one-legged humanoid also known as a skiapod or “shadow foot” because they supposedly used their large huge foot to shade themselves from the hot sun and were rumored to live in India and Ethiopia. This historic map shows the monopod in a remote region of Asia surrounded by rivers, cities, birds such as a crane, men chopping down a tree, and an island with a nude primitive armed with a stick – all from the artist’s imagination.

Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi – The Folio Society – Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, United Kingdom)
Single Page

Hereford map: Mappa Mundi

The Biggest Mappa Mundi

This completely preserved medieval world map has a diameter of 132 cm and is thus larger than any other comparable map. Like all Mappae Mundi, it is east oriented, with the holy city of Jerusalem in the center. This comprehensive map also identifies a further 420 cities. Rivers are shown in blue, seas and oceans in green - with the exception of the Red Sea.

This work is a mixture of geography, world history, biblical history, and mythology. It does not therefore reflect the state of geographic knowledge at the beginning of the 14th century, but a conceptual map instead. For this reason it contains 15 biblical events, 33 animals and plants, 32 people, and five scenes from classical mythology. Strangely enough, the names for Africa and Europe are reversed.

Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi – The Folio Society – Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, United Kingdom)
Facsimile Editions

#1 Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi

The Folio Society – London, 2010
Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi – The Folio Society – Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, United Kingdom)
Hereford World Map: Mappa Mundi – The Folio Society – Hereford Cathedral (Hereford, United Kingdom) Copyright Photos: Ziereis Facsimiles

Publisher: The Folio Society – London, 2010
Limited Edition: 1000 copies
Binding: Presented in a large wooden map box (51" x 5½"), covered with burgundy cloth and lined with fabric, finished with three brass hinges and two clasps, blocked in gold with calligraphy by Stephen Raw.
Commentary: 2 volumes (112/536 pages) by Paul D. A. Harvey and Scott D. Westrem
1 volume: Exact reproduction of the original document (extent, color and size) Reproduction of the entire original document as detailed as possible (scope, format, colors). The binding may not correspond to the original or current document binding.
Facsimile Copy Available!
Price Category: €€
(1,000€ - 3,000€)
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