Posted by: vikingsinspace | March 20, 2010

I.4.01.1.15. Visit Hereford

Date Accomplished: 24 March, 2009

Hereford Cathedral

Hereford is not exactly a top tourist destination in England, but my interest in the middle ages, and a particularly interesting artifact kept here, is what brought me to the city.  Hereford has a map of the world which was created in the 13th century, the Mappa Mundi.  Kept in the Cathedral, this was not only a geographic depiction of the known world, but also a visual representation of classical and biblical history.  It is orientated Eastwards dividing the world into its three parts (called a T-O map with Asia at the top half, Europe in the lower left quarter and Africa in the lower right quarter) with Jerusalem taken a prominent spot in the centre.  There have been numerous books devoted to the Hereford Mappa Mundi, and I’m sure there are several web sites out there that describe it, so I won’t bother going into too many details.  Suffice to say, it is the only surviving large map of its kind, and well worth taking a trip to go see. 

Hereford Mappa Mundi

There isn’t much to say about the town of Hereford itself – at least nothing struck me enough to remember it and then write it down here.  The Cathedral was nice, but I have seen better.  The room where the map was located was a little bit of a disappointment because it was very dark, and the map was kept high off the ground, preventing one from seeing anything near the top in detail.  I suppose the reason for these is in recreating the setting in which the map was seen in the middle ages: in a dark Cathedral, on top of an altar.  There was a neat library attatched to the room however, which still had all the old books chained to the bookshelves.

For this trip, I was with a group of friends who are also doing PhDs in Medieval history.  We decided not to stay too long in Hereford because there were other things to see (we were going to check out many of the baronial castles along the Welsh border).  From Hereford, we made our way out to Ludlow to see the castle, and while Ludlow wasn’t on my goal list, it should have been.  This is probably one of the nicest castle ruins I have been to (even beating out Blarney in Ireland, which I found to be surprisingly nice).  The site was huge, and almost every area was accessable.  Sadly, we arrive there later than planned and couldn’t stay too long, but I still managed to get many photos from Ludlow.

Inside Ludlow Castle

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