On our return from the first stage of our elongated Tour of England we took a small detour to visit Hereford. For a while we believed everything was against us as we left Ironbridge but the satnav kept taking us in a circle back to our start point until I switched it off, then on arriving at the outskirts of Hereford the main road into the city was closed with the usual “Diversion” signs leading you up the garden path! A potential one hour journey had taken two hours as we luckily found a parking space, 2 hours for free, right next to the Cathedral and school.
We were interested in the Mappa Mundi, the largest medieval map known to exist and dating from around 1300AD.
“Hereford Cathedral is home to the Hereford Mappa Mundi, one of the world’s unique medieval treasures. Measuring 1.59 x 1.34 metres (5’2” by 4’4”), the map is constructed on a single sheet of vellum (calf skin). Scholars believe it was made around the year 1300 and shows the history, geography and destiny of humanity as it was understood in Christian Europe in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.”
The exhibition is nicely laid out with explanations of the maps structure, really necessary because it isn’t like any other map you will have seen. There is a facsimile in English too, essential and really helpful. There is also an example of a Chained Library here as well as a copy of the 1217AD Magna Carta though the latter isn’t as significant as the 1215AD version, one of which you can see at Salisbury Cathedral. You can read more about the history of Mappa Mundi and exhibition by clicking the links. The cathedral itself is well worth a visit too, dated around 1079AD dedicated to St Mary and also St Ethelbert The King who was beheaded by Offa, king of Mercia in 792AD.