Hy-Brassil: Irish origins of Brazil

Brasil as shown in relation to Ireland on a map by Abraham Ortelius (1572)

The name Brazil is probably the sweetest sounding name that any large race of the Earth possesses

The Battle of Hastings: A Geographic Perspective

Bayeux tapestry scene

The Battle of Hastings is one of the most widely studied battles in medieval history. Yet despite the importance that research shows geography to play in the outcome of such conflicts, few studies have examined in detail the landscape of the battle or the role the landscape played in its eventual outcome.

The Global Side of Medieval at the Getty Centre: Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscripts

Ethiopian Manuscript. Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA. 'Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscript' (Photo courtesy of Dani Trynoski)

Los Angeles correspondent, Danielle Trynoski takes through the, ‘Traversing the Globe Through Illuminated Manuscripts’ exhibut at the Getty Museum.

Unknown Europe: The Mapping of the Northern countries by Olaus Magnus in 1539

Carta Marina

Olaus Magnus, a highly educated Swedish priest and scholar, published his geographically and ethnographically remarkable map of the Northern countries, the Carta marina, in Venice in 1539.

Landscape and Warfare in Anglo-Saxon England and the Viking Campaign of 1006

William Stukeley’s drawing of the Sanctuary and related topography in 1725 ,in  Abury, a Temple of the British Druids   (London, 1725 )

The last twenty-five years have seen huge advances made in the way that battlefields can be recorded and understood through archaeological techniques, but these methods have only recently been accepted as a useful complement to traditional military history.

Mapping a New View of the Medieval World

Classic KMMS world map, with South on top, “Ṣūrat al-Arḍ” (Picture of the World), from an abbreviated copy of al-Iṣṭakhrī’s “Kitāb al-masālik wa-al-mamālik” (Book of Routes and Realms). 589/1193. Mediterranean. Gouache and ink on paper. Diameter 37.5 cm. Courtesy: Leiden University Libraries. Cod. Or. 3101, fols. 4b–5a.

Maps do more than show us the way and identify major landmarks – rivers, towns, roads and hills. For centuries, they also offered a perspective on how societies viewed themselves in comparison to the rest of the world.

Irish and Scots may have been first to settle Iceland, researcher finds

Seljalandshellar cave in the Westman Islands  - Photo by Kristjan Ahronson

It has long been believed that the first people to inhabit Iceland were the Norse settlers who arrived around the year 874 AD. However, the discovery of Christian crosses carved into man-made caves in the southern part of the island is offering evidence that Celtic-speaking people from Scotland and Ireland had come to Iceland around the beginning the ninth century.

Vikings in the Prehistoric Landscape: Studies on Mainland Orkney

Orkney and Shetland Blaeu - Atlas of Scotland 1654

Norse colonists in Orkney contended not only with the islands’ existing occupants, but also with a foreign landscape filled with visible ancient monuments. This paper provides a brief synthesis of the results of research on the landscapes of Viking-Age and Late-Norse Orkney which explored the strategies undertaken by the Norse settlers to re-model their social identities in their adopted environment.

Nottingham’s Maze of Medieval Caves gets fully surveyed

Sandstone steps in the caves at Nottingham Castle - photo by Lee Hayward / Flickr

For the first time, the entire network of 549 caves underneath Nottingham has been fully surveyed, revealing new details about what lies under the surface of the English city.

The Universal Atlas of Fernão Vaz Dourado

FVD-11 001

Vaz Dourado authored at least four different nautical atlases, each of them including 20 maps, painted between 1568 and 1580, which is to say at the pinnacle of Portuguese cartography.

Medieval Maps of Britain

Britain in the Anglo-Saxon Mappa Mundi

How did people depict England, Scotland and Wales in the Middle Ages? Here are 15 images of maps created between the 11th and 16th centuries, which shows how maps developed over history.

The Original Placement of the Hereford Map


This paper relies on new masonry and dendrochronological evidence and the system of medieval ecclesiastical preferments to argue that this monumental world map was originally exhibited in 1287 next to the first shrine of St Thomas Cantilupe in Hereford Cathedral’s north transept.

Horticultural Landscapes in Middle English Romance

British Library MS Cotton Nero A.x.

Gardens played a significant role in the lives of European peoples living in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Recovering the lost details of a medieval map

Martellus Map - photo courtesy Yale / Beinecke

Researchers at Yale University have started a project to recover details from a 15th-century world map which had been obscured after centuries of fading.

The Ebstorf Map: tradition and contents of a medieval picture of the world

Ebstorf Map

The Ebstorf Map, the largest medieval map of the world whose original has been lost, is not only a geographical map.

Quiz: Medieval Maps

medieval maps quiz

How good are your geography skills? Try to identify these 15 places based on how they are depicted in medieval maps

Real and imaginary journeys in the later Middle Ages

Marco Polo - medieval travel

For a proper understanding of the actions of men in the past it is necessary to have some idea of how they conceived the world and their place in it, yet for the medieval period there is a serious inbalance in the sources.

Holy Islands and the Otherworld: Places Beyond Water

Isolated Islands

In this article I attempt to demonstrate that there is a connection between holy islands and notions of an Otherworld beyond water. I believe that the essence of holy islands is their location on the other side of water.

A Peripheral Matter?: Oceans in the East in Late-Medieval Thought, Report and Cartography

15th century ships

It is something of a truism that the Ocean Sea {mare oceanum in medieval texts and cartography) marked out a real and conceptual periphery for medieval Western Europeans.

The World in 1467

World in 1467

Maps of the medieval world in 1467, by Nicolaus Germanus

The Problem of Mayda, an Island Appearing on Medieval Maps


Of all the legendary islands and island names on the medieval maps, Mayda has been the most enduring.

Top 10 Medieval Places That Don’t Exist

medieval places that dont exist

Based on medieval legends, fictional stories, or somewhat less than useful geographic reports, here is our list of ten medieval places you won’t be able to visit!

Travel and Travelers in Medieval Eurasia

A closeup of the Catalan Atlas depicting Marco Polo traveling to the East during the Pax Mongolica

The rise of the Mongol Empire in the 13th century dramatically changed the opportunities for travel across Eurasia: for the first time we encounter those who traveled its full length and then returned home to narrate what they saw.

Deserted Medieval Villages to be protected

Deserted Medieval Village

Several deserted medieval villages in Northamptonshire, will be officially protected as the British government has designated them as scheduled monuments.

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