Happy St David’s Day/Dydd Gŵyl Dewi Hapus to all those around the world with Welsh links or sympathies. For those unaware, St David’s Day on 1st March, is the national day of Wales, celebrating the saint day of the patron saint of Wales, David, and is an excuse (if ever needed) to stock up on Welsh flags, sup some Brains Beer, tuck into Welsh rarebit and Welsh cakes, and sing Calon Lân while watching reruns of Wales beating England in rugby. With all stereotypes out the way, the nation building of Wales/Cymru is an interesting one. The history is uncertain, but Wales has it’s origins in the fall of the Roman Empire, with the Romans leaving, with a Romano-British culture with Latin, British and Celtic hybrid culture being left behind. With the subsequent invasion and/or assimilation of Anglo-Saxons into what we now know as England, Romano-British culture was pushed into Cornwall and Wales. While, Wales was eventually assimilated into ‘England’ over the following millennia, despite the legends of Romano-British lord, Arthur, and later resistance led by Owain Glyndŵr, however the language of Welsh/Cymraeg and Welsh culture identity still survives strong today.
This history can be reflected in language and place names of Wales and England. ‘Wales’ comes from the Anglo Saxon, ‘Walesia’, ironically, meaning foreigner; whereas ‘Lloegr’ (England in Welsh) derives from ‘lost lands’. Additionally, ‘Cymru’ is thought to come from the word ‘Citizen’, i.e. citizens of Rome, and these Latin links can be seen in examples of Welsh words. For example, ‘bont’ (bridge) is similar to the also Latin-based French version, ‘pont’; similarly, ‘ffenestr’ (window) is similar to Italian, ‘finestra’. So why is this all on a mapping/geospatial blog? Because place names we have in our gazetteers, aren’t produced just randomly, they reflect history and culture, as I could easily do a similar description for another country or place in the world (you can get whole maps on this stuff!). So I come to this fantastic map (see above) produced by Rhys McKenzie, a geo-scientist from Cardiff University, back in 2014, who researched and produced this fantastic etymological map of Wales. Hopefully the perfect thing to mark St David’s Day in the mapping world.
Credits: Rhys McKenzie, National Assembly for Wales
How would you define a map? A type in a popular search engine beginning with ‘G’, has a familiar definition, “a diagrammatic representation of an area of land or sea showing physical features, cities, roads, etc.”, and indeed the word map derives from the word ‘mappa’ meaning sheet/napkin. However, ironically though ‘map’ isn’t restricted to this two dimensional version we can fold up; as we all know, we live a digital age where you navigate the world around you with your laptop or smartphone too. But what happens if you live somewhere with little to no mobile internet signal and sub-zero temperatures most of the year round. And what are those odd, suspiciously shaped lumps of wood in the picture above?
Those are maps. Greenlandic wood maps to be precise, and rather than a true to scale, visual representation of the area, like a contemporary map would attempt, this provides a tactile, physical representation of the coastline. As one can see from the useful diagram below, this isn’t a crude attempt at carving the island of Greenland/Kalaallit Nunaat, but traces the contours of the same part of the coast of Greenland, up and down the same piece of wood. This is a much more resourceful and useful map, once you understand, which is adapted to the climate of the nomadic, hunter-gatherer culture that once existed, in some places still does exist. So what’s the point in showing this? Okay, it’s not quite as interactive and different to most things in map blogs, but it’s quite interesting – it shows that long human desire and need in any culture or time to explore, map (used as a verb now), and have geographic knowledge of the world around us, something which didn’t just start with a Belgian mathematician called Gerardus Mercator.
Continue reading “5. Map of the Day: Knock on Wood”
In a world where digital maps are available within a few clicks and can rely pre-loaded map projection systems to ensure we are mapping in the right location, for me it is always humbling and breathtaking the painstaking efforts and relative accuracy of older maps. One particular example is the Selden map of China (acquired from estate of London lawyer John Selden in 1659), one of the oldest surviving merchant trade maps, and one of the first Chinese maps to reach Europe, roughly dated 1607-1617. In many ways the beauty and craft of this map speaks for itself (see here), but there is more to this map than first thought.
Continue reading “4. Map of the Day: Selden Map of China”
I recently came across a copy of an old school book, “Picture Map Geography of Canada and Alaska” by Vernon Quinn, that includes charming woodcut picture maps by Bruno da Osimo, a then noted Italian illustrator, for each of the Canadian provinces (other than Nunavut, which was then part of the Northwest Territories). Originally published in 1944 […]
via Vintage Picture Map Geography of Canada — O’ Canada
Whether you drive an electric car, a ‘normal’ car, or don’t drive at all, this web and mobile (Android and iOS) application from ZapMap is well worth taking a look at. Powered by Google Maps API, this mapping tool provides the locations of electric car chargers, providing pop up boxes with the latest status of these charging points, types and directions on how to get there. Although the shading of the vector tiles is a bit gaudy, with an ability to log in, map and comment on charging points, there is potential for up-to-date community empowered mapping to provide latest running statuses and charging locations.
Continue reading “3. Map of the Day – Map powered cars (ZAP MAP)”
Today’s map of the day touches on the thorny issue of…politics, though I’m not going to get into a political discussion; if you want to, please got the usual channels, i.e. YouTube comments section. This map from the Economist Intelligent Unit’s (EIU) Democracy Index is a simple, clear, but informative map (click here for full interactive version here).
Continue reading “2. Map of the Day: How much does your vote count?”
In what I hope will be a regular feature, I will share my passion for all things geographic and cartographic with my ‘Map of the Day’ feature. Some may be simple maps, but interesting insight; others may be great examples of interactivity and web map development, or both.
Kicking this feature of is one of my favourite maps, Ventusky (https://www.ventusky.com), a meteorological web application developed by Czech company InMeteo in collaboration with Marek Mojzik and Martin Prantl. This web application has been around for some time now, with the recent addition ‘wave height simulation’, and provides weather prediction (and archive) animation based on weather models from Germany, USA and Canada (ICON, GFS, GEM respectively).
Continue reading “1. Map of the Day: Ventusky – fantastic, whatever the weather”