Here be dragons : mapping space and time, medieval and modern

Molloy, Paddy (2016) Here be dragons : mapping space and time, medieval and modern. In: Fugelso, Karl, (ed.) Medievalism and Modernity. Suffolk, U.K. : D. S. Brewer. pp. 197-214. (Studies in Medievalism, (XXV)) ISSN (print) 0738-7164 ISBN 9781843844372


This essay discusses the role of cartography and the representation of unchartered territory in relation to geographical unknowns of the Middle Ages. It is addressed within in three sections. The first, Here Be Dragons, will contextualise my work ‘Here be Dragons’ made for the Medievalist Visions exhibition at King’s College London. This piece was inspired by depictions of the unknown in medieval maps and compared it to the unknowns in digital maps as they wait to load on the screen. This digital pause acts out a journey of discovery every time a map renders. The second section, The Redcross Street Bridge, contextualises this project by looking at temporal as well as geographical unknowns. Within London’s Barbican complex lie two lost streets. Red Cross Street was heavily bombed and subsequently built over as part of a major redevelopment. One plan to retrace the lost walkway, Redcross Street Bridge was drawn up by the architects but never made it to the final development. This section takes a walk through the Barbican in order to reimagine a street that once was and a street that never was. The third section, Vernacular Cartography, discuses the role of formal and informal map-making as a way of understanding the immediate unknowns of our day-to-day landscapes. From a route marked between two dropped pins on Google maps, to a list of directions written on the backs of our hands, to the construction of a map from raw materials in the open world game Minecraft. We are all now cartographers articulating worlds we use and worlds we are trying to understand.

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