Cartographic Connections - the digital analysis and curation of sixteenth-century maps of Great Britain and Ireland

Catherine Porter, Keith Lilley, Christopher Lloyd, Siobhan McDermott, Rebecca Milligan

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Understanding the processes by which early maps were created and the interconnections of maps and map makers is key to broadening our knowledge of map history and cartographic science. This paper draws on data collected across three UK research projects centred on analysing, untangling and evaluating the relationships between maps and map makers of sixteenth-century Great Britain and Ireland. Using GIS, ‘Place’ features (written in Latin, Gaelic, Welsh and English) derived from a large suite of maps were digitised and added to one centralised geo-historical gazetteer. Employing robust quantitative methods including statistical regression procedures, distortion measures and displacement modelling, the maps were analysed and compared to reveal significant insights into the cartographic connections and the map making processes of Renaissance Europe. The paper also illustrates a common goal of these projects, to ‘curate’ early maps by enabling accessibility to cartography and associated data through online resources. The paper highlights that digital methods and curation, used in combination with more traditional forms of qualitative enquiry, provide a new instrument for deciphering and conserving histories of cartography.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-109
Number of pages13
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2019


  • Cartography
  • GIS
  • Historical Geography
  • Geography
  • Early modern
  • Ireland
  • Britain
  • Digital
  • Gazetteer
  • Place-names


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