Think of relics of 13th-century England, and you will probably imagine a castle or a cathedral. But perhaps more revealing of the medieval mind is the Hereford Mappa Mundi, now on show in the new Library Building at Hereford Cathedral.
A new book, Mappa Mundi: The Hereford World Map, has just been published by the British Library and Hereford Cathedral with copious illustrations of the map. Priced at Pounds 17.95 in hardback and Pounds 10.95 in paperback (0 7123 0440 1 and 0441 X), it was written by P. D. A. Harvey, emeritus professor, University of Durham. He points out that when new, the map was resplendent in bright greens, blues and other colours, and the parchment was bright rather than the muddy colour we see today. This detail of the map, which is 1.6m high, shows the bizarre peoples thought to inhabit southern Africa, including types with faces on their chests, others who have no mouth and eat through straws, and some with only one arm and one leg. The river at top left is the Nile, and the city surrounded by water, termed New Babylon in the Middle Ages, is Cairo. The letters EURO form part of one of the earliest known publishing howlers - in large print, Africa is marked "Europa" while Europe is called "Affrica." Martin Ince
Mappa Mundi: The Hereford World Map
Author - P.D.A. Harvey
ISBN - 0 7123 0440 1 and 0441 X
Publisher - The British Library and Hereford Cathedral
Price - £17.95 and £10.95