In their paper, the complete text of which is available online, physical geographer Simon Haslett and professor of Celtic David Willis are trying to reconstruct the post-glacial evolution of Wales’s Cardigan Bay using historical and folklore sources as well as bathymetric data and geological evidence. (It’s pretty obvious which author contributed what.) The Gough Map shows two islands that don’t correlate to any real island in Cardigan Bay; the study suggests that the islands may have in fact existed and have since been lost to flooding, erosion and other post-glacial changes to the shorelines. There are several submarine highs in the bay that may match up with the lost islands. The paper hypothesizes that the Cantre’r Gwaelod legend is a folk memory from when the coast was much different: that there were islands in Cardigan Bay, that they disappeared during the human era, and this legend is one of their traces.
In other words, a bit different from taking an old map at entirely too much face value (which, to be sure, has been enough of a thing that it was first to mind when I saw the story). They’re using the map and the legend to try and figure out the shoreline’s history—not using the map to prove the legend.
An update on the Gough Map Project from Bill Shannon. “The Gough Map Project has reached that ‘interesting’ stage where we are moving from either sitting on the fence and making no decisions, or making lots, but then rejecting them all. It is now time to reach some firm conclusions, and start writing.”
Among other things, the Gough Map appears to be a copy of, and updated from, an earlier (“ghost”) map:
And so, we now have still more questions as we turn over the possible scenarios. If the copying was done in the early years of Henry IV, when was the Predecessor made? And where? And why? And why was our copy made—and where? And, what about that shipwreck? And, especially, what about those red lines previously interpreted as “roads”: it seems quite clear that these were not on the Predecessor, which means it never was a road map. Indeed, as we have progressed, we have realised those red lines are, at best, routes. […] But one thing we feel sure of: Mr Gough’s map was never a high-quality, show-piece display object; it was a back-room, practical, work-a-day thing.
Much study has been devoted to the Gough Map, a late medieval map of Great Britain, exact date and authorship unknown, that was donated to the Bodleian Library in 1809 by the map’s now-namesake, Richard Gough. (An interactive version is available online.) A new project led by Catherine Delano-Smith and Nick Millea explores the map on several levels: as physical object, combining hyperspectral imagery, pigment analysis and 3D scanning; the process of how the map was drawn (and redrawn); and a close analysis of the places and names found on the map. Some of the project’s early findings were published in Imago in 2016.
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