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Cartography and Culture in Medieval Iceland

Kedwards, Dale (2014) Cartography and Culture in Medieval Iceland. PhD thesis, University of York.

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While previous studies of the medieval Icelandic world maps have tended to be cursorily descriptive, and focus on their roles as representatives of the geographical information available to medieval Icelanders, this thesis directs attention towards their manuscript contexts. Rather than narrowly approaching the maps as vehicles for geographical information, the chapters assembled in this thesis explore their relevance to other areas: pan-European histories of astronomy and the computus (chapters 1 and 2), Icelandic literary history (chapter 4), and the history of the Icelandic Commonwealth (chapter 5). Ultimately, this thesis attempts to rehabilitate the Icelandic maps as sources for the cultural history of medieval Iceland, and demonstrates that they connect with more textual worlds than has previously been supposed. Chapter 1 presents an examination of the Icelandic hemispherical world map, preserved in two manuscripts: the encyclopaedic fragments in Copenhagen’s Arnamagnæan Institute with the shelf marks AM 736 I 4to (c. 1300) and AM 732b 4to (c. 1300-25). I demonstrate that this map’s primary function was to illustrate the configurations of the sun and moon responsible for variations in tidal range. Chapter 2 presents an examination of the Icelandic zonal map, preserved in the large illustrated encyclopaedia in Reykjavík’s Stofnun Árna Magnússonar with the shelf mark GkS 1812 I 4to (1315-c. 1400). This map also shows the structure of the ocean and the mechanisms responsible for the tides. These two chapters restore these maps to their manuscript contexts, and demonstrate that they sustain a complex suite of relationships with the items preserved alongside them. Chapter 3 concerns the relationship between the two world maps preserved in Reykjavík, Stofnun Árna Magnússonar, GkS 1812 III 4to (c. 1225-50). Although these two maps are preserved on the recto and verso of the same manuscript folio, the relationship between them has not hitherto been examined. The two chapters that follow concern different aspects of these paired maps, and foreground their implications for Icelandic national identity at the time of their production. Chapter 4 concerns their depiction of Europe, with a particular focus on Iceland. Chapter 5 concerns the relationship between the two maps and a register of forty highborn Icelandic priests preserved alongside them, and calls attention to the secular uses to which maps might have been put in thirteenth-century Iceland.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: History of Cartography; Medieval Icelandic Literature and Culture; Medieval Science and Astronomy; Medieval Encyclopaedias
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.643652
Depositing User: Dr Dale Kedwards
Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2015 14:43
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2020 14:47
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/8489

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