The Icelandic mappae mundi were a series of maps produced in the late medieval period (c. 1225 - c. 1400) that bore witness to fundamental changes in the landscape of vernacular literary culture, scientific thinking and regional geopolitics.
In The Mappae Mundi of Medieval Iceland (D.S. Brewer, 2020), Dale Kedwards explores the plethora of meanings that medieval Icelandic mapmakers invested into their works. From political statements about national origin, to diagrammatic expressions of cosmological theories, the mappae mundi provided a medium for medieval Icelanders to imagine their place in relation to the wider world, and even the physical universe.
In this wide-ranging interview, Dale tells us how a budding interest in geology first brought him to Iceland, how he turned an interest in Icelandic literature into a monograph on medieval maps, and why the Icelandic mappae mundi have – until now – received so little attention in studies of cartographic history. His book challenges us to rethink our definition of maps, and broaden our expectations of what they can tell us about the worlds they depicted.