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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mapping of D&G takes off

From Matthew Shelley of Fresh Start for the Arts
Maps have long been one of the most important ways in which we try to understand
and bring order to our world. They can also be a source of wonder, pulling back the
veil on far lands, exotic places and new possibilities.

Last week the Fresh Start mapping team got together at the Mill on the Fleet for
a session to kick off the main data gathering exercise that we hope will lead to a
full arts and cultural map of Dumfries and Galloway. It’s a project that will allow the
sector to be more effective in planning its future by providing a detailed picture of
who is doing what and where.

The end result will also contribute to the ever-growing list of ways in which the region
has been mapped. One of the earliest examples is the Gough Map of Britain from
around 1370 (academics have a jolly time arguing about its exact date and origins)
which gives us a glimpse of a time when the real centres of wealth and power in the
region included Caerlaverock Castle and the religious community at Whithorn. The
Blaeu Atlas of 1654 takes a big leap in detail and accuracy – and is everyone’s idea
of what the “olde worlde” map should look like.

By the 18th and 19th centuries mapping was done for an increasing variety of
purposes. Roy’s military maps are quite astonishing. They were created in a bid
to prevent future trouble in the aftermath of the Jacobite uprising of 1745-6. But
nowadays they are of particular value in showing us what the Scottish landscape was
like on the verge of an agricultural revolution which transformed it forever.

The natural world has often been a source of fascination, leaving us with remarkable
records like Murray and Pullar’s bathymetrical survey in which they patiently plumbed
the depths of our lochs to create a map of the world beneath the water. One sheet,
from 1908, shows lochs Dee, Harrow, Dungeon, Grennoch, Lochinvar, Skerrow,
Lchnabreck, Winyeon, Woodhall and Carlingwark.

There have also been an abundance of social maps – focusing on everything
from railways and tourist attractions to ecclesiastical boundaries. There’s a lovely
one by Aaron Arrowsmith, from 1825, which divides the region, and country, into
presbyteries and synods.

Over the coming weeks it’s quite likely that Commonty readers will be getting calls
or emails from Cate Ross, Winnie Cooper, Alan Thomson or Julian Watson, asking
them to have their details included on the Fresh Start arts and cultural map. We very
much hope that you will want to be part of the project. By knowing our strengths and
identifying gaps we can build, celebrate and consolidate.

If you would like further information about anything connected with Fresh Start please
email Matthew Shelley at or call 07786 704299.

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