Way Before Google Maps (Don Ward)

By: Don Ward
By: Don Ward

One of the oldest maps of the world in the world!


I'm lucky enough to go to the UK pretty often.  My family lived there for a while when I was a child so I have friends to stay with. With their help I tried this time to see some things I haven't seen before. That started one Sunday with this place.

It is Tewkesbury Abbey in Herefordshire.  There are many, many magnificent old churches and Cathedrals across Britain.  Many of them are famous, this one is not. I'm including Tewkesbury Abbey for that reason.  It's a thousand years old, it is a stunning accomplishment in terms of its design and its construction..but it's not that well-known.   We listened to part of a sung service in there and it was wonderful.  Take a look at the inside. Look at the people to get an idea of just how huge those columns are!

To stand inside this Norman masterpiece is to gain an instant appreciation for the work and care that went into building it...and it's not even that well known to most of us. 

Here's another spectacular structure.  This is Hereford Cathedral, in the city of the same name.


 On the map it's not far from England's border with Wales...and it's a map that put it on the map.  This is something called the Hereford Mappa Mundi. I had never even heard of it until my friends in England suggested it as something new to see.

It dates to about the year 1300 and it is the largest surviving medieval map of the world.  This photo is of a reproduction. The original, on a single sheet of vellum, is in a part of the Cathedral under renovation.  Here's a closer look at part of it.

It's interesting to see how the world was interpreted in the Middle Ages..Jerusalem is at the center, the Garden of Eden to the east, etc.  (The stained-glass window is a reflection of the Cathedral, not part of the map) It's an eye-opening look at the past, kept in one of England's many amazing monuments to faith.  It's worth a look if you find yourself near Hereford.

We'll talk again soon.

Don Ward


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