The Antique Map of Guðbrandur Þorláksson

The Antique Map of Guðbrandur Þorláksson
A map of Iceland was published in the collection of the Dutch cartographer Abraham Ortelius in 1590. Its author was the most learned of Icelanders, Guðbrandur Þorláksson, Bishop of Hólar, a keen mathematician who had measured the geographical position of Hólar with startling accuracy.

Looking at Iceland as it appears on that map it is soon clear that is very different from the most recent maps made using the latest technology. The country is too angular with too many straight lines and the fjords, bays and peninsulas are disproportionately large. The highlands seem to have been drawn at random, clearly indicating the lack of knowledge about this area.

There are some 250 names on the map, many easily recognisable, others somewhat distorted. The country is surrounded by a multitude of whales and monsters. The map also contains several texts of dubious authenticity. For example, it informs us that east of the Þjórsá river the horses are so fast that they can run 20 miles in one burst.
 

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