Hereford, UK - Mappa Mundi; Boston, MA - Cape Cod Map, Nina Heald Webber Cape Cod Canal Collection (Historic New England)

Hereford Mappa Mundi-2.jpg


Hereford, UK - Mappa Mundi; Boston, MA - Cape Cod Map, Nina Heald Webber Cape Cod Canal Collection (Historic New England)

Catalog Entry

The Mappa Mundi is a 14th-century map that depicts the known world during the year 1300. Regions marked on the map include Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and certain expanses of Asia. The map was crafted in England and is preserved to this day in the English city of Hereford. One interesting aspect around this map is the theory scholars have developed that the cartographer never left England. Due to this the map is not seen as an accurate geographical representation of the land. Instead it is seen as a representation of the land based off of the cartographer's knowledge of religious texts and myths. Obviously, this meant the map was never actually used for navigation.

This division between culture and geography is the primary theme that connects the map to the Andlo-Saxon text Judith. The idea of distant lands as dangerous is seen in these two pieces. The authors were well-versed in their cultural norms close to where they existed, but, instead of being able to travel outside to these “dangerous” areas, they based their geography on the locations as they were described in texts they read. The Mappa Mundi creator likely never left England once in his whole life. Judith's antagonist Holofernes is an Assyrian. Judith's knowledge of Assyria and Babylon were a stylized depiction based on legends, rather than geographical and historical facts.

Along with the theme stated above, another key similarity between Mappa Mundi and Judith is the obvious connection of having anonymous creators.

My local connection to Judith and the Mappa Mundi is a map depicting the aerial view of Cape Cod. The map is held in the Nina Heald Webber Cape Cod Canal collection. Like the Mappa Mundi, it is undated, making an estimated origin date difficult to determine. 

The world outside of your home town or village was a scary and dangerous place and not too many people were brave enough to adventure out and comprehend everything else the world has to offer. They had to rely on information gathered from others to create objects that in return would help even more people develop knowledge.


Denholm-Young, N. “The Mappa Mundi of Richard of Haldingham at Hereford.” Speculum, vol. 32, no. 2, 1957, pp. 307–314.

Terkla, Dan. “The Original Placement of the Hereford Mappa Mundi.” Imago Mundi, vol. 56, no. 2, 2004, pp. 131–151.

“The Opening of the Cape Cod Canal.” Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, vol. 46, no. 11, 1914, pp. 832–834.

Catalog Entry Author(s)

Kevin Sim, Student, Fitchburg State University

Research Assistant(s)

Nick Elliott, Student, Fitchburg State University


Kisha G. Tracy

Accessible Description of Image(s)

First image: This picture depicts a medieval map. The picture zooms in and focuses on a specific portion of the map. The map is on brown, coffee-colored material. There are words on it in written language. A drawn road connects a small tower to the image of a large castle. There also appears to be some words on the map that reference place names.
Description by; Louise Symonds, Student, Fitchburg State University


“Hereford, UK - Mappa Mundi; Boston, MA - Cape Cod Map, Nina Heald Webber Cape Cod Canal Collection (Historic New England),” Cultural Heritage through Image, accessed February 23, 2024,

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