The Great Lines Project Blog

Karen Rann

Research output: Non-textual formWeb publication/site


Karen Rann investigates the invention of contour lines in her Wordpress blog. The author created the blog in May 2015 and first posted February 2016.

The project began when I first discovered the connection between Newcastle born Charles Hutton and contour lines on maps. Since that moment in 2014, I have been researching the history of a line. Contours were ‘invented’ a number of times, each time in response to a problem that required a visual solution – on a map. Lines on maps are usually drawn to define boundaries – often for defence or attack – or for states and landowners to visualise and quantify what they possess. Contours range across those maps, and traverse boundary lines. Through trial and experimentation – and arguments for and against their adoption – they have come to represent an elegant solution for the depiction of mountains and valleys flattened onto paper. This blog enables me to explore aspects of the history of contour lines in an accessible format and complements the research that informed my PhD thesis: Horizontal Hills: A Creative Historical Geography of the Emergence of Contour Lines in Nineteenth Century Britain and Ireland.
Original languageEnglish
Media of outputOnline
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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