The Gough Map is a mid-14th century map of the British Isles, formerly and mistakenly regarded as the earliest road map of the country, and is renowned internationally as one of the earliest maps to show Britain in a geographically recognisable form. Its dating, authorship and function are still uncertain, but high-resolution recording aims to provide new evidence and allow further and detailed studies on the many questions surrounding this artefact.
Bequeathed to the Bodleian Library by Richard Gough (1735-1809), the map is covered in over two-thousand tiny indentations which transferred the position and form of geographical features from a precursor map. Through studying these pinholes, researchers may be able to determine which features would have been present on the precursor map and in doing so, estimate when it may have been made.
In 2015, as part of two related research projects by Catherine Delano-Smith and Damien Bove, supported by the Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2019-070), Factum Foundation undertook 3D scans of the large parchment map, recto and verso. The aim was to record the total distribution of the pinholes scattered about the map (long known to be present but never studied) and explain their origin and function, as well as to discover any other markings not discernible by the naked eye. The scan was carried out using the Lucida 3D Scanner, and the results exceeded expectations: evidence from the 3D scan points to the use of a pin in copying features from an unknown exemplar onto the new, appropriately-sized, parchment.
The Selden Map of China was also recorded in high resolution as part of the project, in order to help research on the object. The early 17th-century map is believed to have been made by an anonymous Chinese mapmaker, as it shows Southeast Asia and its maritime sea routes.
The Lucida 3D Scanner recording the Gough Map © Arthur Prior | Factum Foundation
The Lucida 3D Scanner recording the Selden Map of China © Arthur Prior | Factum Foundation
The data, both surface and colour, was compiled in two high-resolution viewers.
The Gough Map has been recorded numerous times since its creation, in various forms. It therefore serves as a great case study in the development of copying and imaging techniques.
The data captured by ARCHiOx in 2022 using the Selene Photometric Stereo System is the highest-resolution recording of the Gough Map to date. Both the front and reverse of the map were recorded at over 700,000 pixels per square inch. In order to record the map at this resolution, 85 image tiles were captured, processed and stitched together to form a single image. Prominent pinholes and scoring marks are clearly visible from the recordings.
These have been analysed, using geographical information system software by Damien Bove, Researcher for The Gough Map Project and Picture Editor of Imago Mundi: International Journal for the History of Cartography.
The pricking on the Gough Map is key to its creation, marking the location and form of place signs copied through from a precursor map. Where the tool has been pressed through the skin, it has left holes. Most of these can be seen on high resolution photos and on the earlier Lucida scan. Where the tool was pressed with less force, however, it has left only small depressions. The ARCHiOx scan has allowed us to identify and measure these for the first time, giving us a fuller understanding of the earlier map.
Damien Bove, Researcher for The Gough Map Project and Picture Editor of Imago Mundi: International Journal for the History of Cartography
The data was used to create a physical facsimile of the Gough Map, which was installed in the Bodleian Library's Map Room to allow close inspection and study without endangering the original.
Facsimile of the Gough Map © Oak Taylor Smith | Factum Foundation
The Gough Map facsimile on display during an ARCHiOx event, after a presentation by Nick Millea © Bodleian Libraries