Detail View: Old Maps Collection: Hereford Mappa Mundi

Hereford Mappa Mundi
Original Title: 
Richardi de Haldingham seu De Bello Mappamundi inter annos 1276-1283 p. Ch. conscripta Herefordi Angliae conservata.
Other Title: 
De Bello Mappamundi inter annos 1276-1283 p. Ch. conscripta Herefordi Angliae conservata
Ricardus, de Bello, fl. 1276-1312, cartographer
Early Old Maps
Create Year: 
[ca. 1285-1295]
JPEG 15300 × 18400, 93.7MB
Scale not given.
Physical Map Dimension (cm): 
73 x 60 cm, on sheet 76 x 62 cm
The Hereford Mappa Mundi is a medieval map of the known world of a form deriving from the T and O pattern, dating from c. 1300. However, it does not imply that its creators believed in a flat Earth. It is displayed at Hereford Cathedral in Hereford, England. It is the largest medieval map still known to exist and in such good condition. And it is also the earliest known map to depict the mythical island of St Brendan's Isle, which then appeared on many other maps.There is a reference, unusual for any medieval map, to its authorship, in a note in the bottom left-hand corner. While compiled in England, names and descriptions were written in Latin, as was common at the time. During the troubled times of the Commonwealth the map had been laid beneath the floor of Bishop Audley's Chantry, where it remained secreted for some time. In 1855 it was cleaned and repaired at the British Museum. During WWII, for safety reasons, the map was kept elsewhere and returned to the collection in 1946. Asia forms the upper, eastern portion, of the map; consuming more than half as it encompasses the ‘world-center’ Jerusalem. In the Middle Ages scholars were also greatly interested in the exploits of Alexander the Great, therefore a number of drawings and inscriptions in Asia are associated with him. Africa and Europe are reversed, with Europe scribed in red and gold as "Africa", and vice versa. Africa is located in the lower portion of the map on the right. Europe is not easily recognizable since actual coastlines are disregarded in this highly stylized format The Iberian and Italian peninsulas are not represented as such. Beginning with Spain, at the bottom-center, the Pyrenees form a line running north and south, with many rivers and towns displayed. Italy is merely a bulge between the Mediterranean and the Adriatic ; the Alps are fairly accurate. Greece has its Mt. Olympus and such cities as Athens and Corinth; the Delphioracle, misnamed Delos, is represented by a hideous head. France, with the bordering regions of Holland and Belgium is called Gallia. Paris, owing to its famous university, has one of the most imposing castellated buildings on the entire map. Germany is equally obscure and vague, Upper Germany is noted as being occupied by Slavic people, and Lower Germany has a note, this is Saxony. The river Don forms the boundary between Europe and Asia. On the map, the areas retain their Latin names, Britannia insula and Hibernia, Scotia, Wallia, and Cornubia, and are neatly divided, usually by rivers, into compartments, North and South Ireland, Wales, Cornwall, England, and Scotland. The Mediterranean, conveniently separating the three continents of Asia, Africa and Europe, teems with islands associated with legends of Greece and Rome. Entering this sea from the encircling ocean is an island with two columns, the Pillars of Hercules, in the Straits of Gibraltar. Then come the Balearic Islands, Majorca and Minorca, and Sardinia. The two upright fingers branching up from the Mediterranean are the Aegean and the Black Sea with the Golden Fleece at its extremity.
This is a facsimile with a background clean up of the original manuscript map on vellum, 165 x 135 cm.
On the map are depicted 420 towns, 15 Biblical events, 33 animals and plants, 32 people, and 5 scenes from classical mythology. Jerusalem is at the centre circle, showing the Garden of Eden in a circle at the edge of the world. The long river on the far right is the River Nile, and the 'T' shape is established by the Mediterranean Sea and the rivers Don and Nile. Jerusalem is marked with the crucifixion of Christ outside a walled-city. There is a drawing of Adam, Eve and the serpent, and below to the right, their expulsion from the Garden. It can also be seen the Tower of Babel; Moses on Mount Sinai receiving the tablets; Lot’s wife; and the river Jordan flowing through to the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea, where Sodom and Gomorrah lie submerged. On the right of Palestine is Egypt, where the Nile and its delta are shown, along with the sphinx and the pyramids. Near the red letters 'Mare Mediterraneum' is a mermaid.
"Modula ad 3/7 reducto; denuo edidit Conrad Miller 1903."
Map oriented with East at the top.
Relief shown pictorially.
The writing is in black with additional red and gold, and blue or green for water bodies, with the exception of the Red Sea which is colored red.
The map is inside a somewhat rectangular frame background with a pointed top, and an ornamented border of a zig-zag pattern. Inside the border-frame are drawings, at the head is a representation of the Day of Judgment, with the figure of Christ displaying the scars of His crucifixion in the center. Standing on the right of Christ an angel holds a cross in one hand and three nails in the other. At Christ’s feet is a group of four figures including the Virgin Mary. The other three figures consist of a woman placing a crown on the Virgin Mary and two angels on their knees. On Christ’s right-hand side is an angel who calls to the blessed dead. The line of figures to the left of this angel represents those who have arisen from their graves and includes the leading angel, a bishop, a crowned king, a monk, 3 nuns, and 2 persons coming out of opened graves. On Christ’s left hand another angel pronounces doom on the lost, 6 lost souls, roped together, are being dragged to the devil. A strange figure seems to be desperately trying to escape from the jaws, after arising from his grave. In the left-hand bottom corner, the Roman Emperor Caesar Augustus is enthroned and crowned with a papal triple tiara and delivers a mandate with his seal attached, to 3 named commissioners. In the right-hand bottom corner an unidentified rider parades with a following forester holding a pair of greyhounds on a leash.
Terkla, D. The Original Placement of the Hereford Mappa Mundi, Imago Mundi, Vol. 56, No. 2, pp. 131-151
The Hereford Mappamundi, 226
Geography, Medieval
Geographic Area: 
Harvard College Library
Provenance Call No.: 
G3200 1283 .R5 1903.
MUST holding: