Mapping worlds? Excavating cartographic encounters in Plantation Ireland through GIS

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This paper uses the analytical potential of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to explore processes of map production and circulation in early-seventeenth century Ireland. The paper focuses on a group of historic maps, attributed to Josias Bodley, which were commissioned in 1609 by the English Crown to assist in the Plantation of Ulster. Through GIS and digitizing map-features, and in particular by quantifying map-distortion, it is possible to examine how these maps were made, and by whom. Statistical analyses of spatial data derived from the GIS are shown to provide a methodological basis for ‘excavating’ historical geographies of Plantation map-making. These techniques, when combined with contemporary written sources, reveal further insight on the ‘cartographic encounters’ taking place between surveyors and map-makers working in Ireland in the early 1600s, opening up the ‘mapping worlds’ which linked Ireland and Britain through the networks and embodied practices of Bodley and his map-makers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)35-38
Number of pages4
JournalHistorical Geography
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Spatial humanities
  • History of cartography
  • GIS


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