Great Britain Map by Matthew Paris c 1250

The map is mainly delineated by its rivers and coastlines on either side of a north-south axis. It’s particularly rich in the number of named cities, towns, hills and rivers – over 250 of them. Panels around the margins of the map identify the nearest land in each direction.

The boundary between England and Scotland is clearly marked by Hadrian’s Wall, 73 miles long and built between 122 and 130 AD by the Roman Emperor Hadrian to protect the Empire’s most northerly border. Further north is the Antonine Wall constructed by Hadrian’s successor, Antonius Pius. Both are shown schematically as battlemented features: the Antonine Wall was, in fact, a ditch and turf-wall structure.

London is acknowledged as the country’s largest city by having the most elaborate towered and battlemented frame surrounding its name. Windsor Castle is shown upstream on the banks of the River Thames. The Isle of Thanet appears off the south coast, not yet joined to the mainland by silting and land reclamation. In north-west Wales, the peaks of Mount Snowdon are roughly indicated and labelled, ‘Snaudun’.

 

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