A 15th-century map of Scotland drawn by an English spy is on public display

The first map detailing the “Kingdom of the Scots” was loaned to the Wardlow Museum of the University of St. Andrews by the British Library in London.

The 15th century Harding map was drawn in the 1400s and includes a colorful depiction of St. Andrews showing the now ruined church of St Rule.

The map is believed to have been drawn from the knowledge of Scotland obtained by the English chronicler John Harding during a secret mission to Scotland on the secret orders of King Henry V.

Harding Scotland Map

Harding included the map in his later chronicle recounting the history of England and its neighbors, and is believed to have been studied by royal military tactics.

University Director and Vice-Chancellor Professor Sally Mapstone, specialist in Scottish medieval and renaissance literature, said: “Harding’s map provides an important context for the dynamic relationship between Scotland and England over the centuries.

“It has wide application not only for those studying here at St Andrews, but for anyone interested in how Scotland’s geographical, political and cultural conditions have changed over the centuries.

“Each map tells a story and I look forward to the discussion, debate and reflection that will arise at this critical time in Scotland’s future when the map is on display at the Wardlow Museum.”

Dr Claire Bray, Head of Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts at the British Library, said: “We are very pleased to provide the Wardlow Museum map of Scotland by Harding.

“It depicts many Scottish cities and towns, and Harding used it to accompany his historical chronicle.

“The British Library’s collections are for everyone and we hope that this map, which is on display alongside other works related to medieval St Andrews, will inspire new audiences, young and old.

“This loan is part of our Treasures on Tour program and allows us to open up the library’s collections to better serve our communities across the UK.”

The map exhibition is part of a quest that accompanies the map, in which participants will be asked to crack clues that will help them capture John Harding on his reconnaissance mission in Scotland before he escapes to England.

Cult, Church, City: Medieval St. Andrews is an exhibition created by Prof. Michael Brown and Dr. Bess Rhodes, the city’s world experts in this period. The exhibition will feature items that have never been seen together before, including a colorful episcopal robe on loan from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Treasures on Tour: A Map of Scotland and John Harding’s Cult, Church, City: Medieval St Andrews will be at the Wardlow Museum from Sunday 20 February to Sunday 3 July 2022. Admission is free and a full program of activities will be offered. Details can be found on the website of the University Museum.

The John Harding Map of Scotland is part of the British Library’s Treasures on the Road program and has been generously supported by the Helen Hamlin Foundation.

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