The Hereford Mappa Mundi is a mappa mundi, of a form deriving from the T and O pattern, dating from c. 1300. It is currently on display at Hereford Cathedral in Hereford, England. It is the largest medieval map known still to exist.
The map is signed by or attributed to one “Richard of Haldingham and Lafford”, also known as Richard de Bello, “prebend of Lafford in Lincoln Cathedral”. Drawn on a single sheet of vellum, it measures 158 cm by 133 cm, some 52 in (130 cm) in diameter and is the largest medieval map known still to exist. The writing is in black ink, with additional red and gold, and blue or green for water (with the Red Sea coloured red). It depicts 420 towns, 15 Biblical events, 33 animals and plants, 32 people, and five scenes from classical mythology.
The Hereford Mappa Mundi hung, little regarded, for many years on a wall of a choir aisle in the cathedral. During the troubled times of the Interregnum the map had been laid beneath the floor of Bishop Audley’s Chantry where it remained secreted for some time. In 1855 it was cleaned and repaired at the British Museum. During the Second World War, the mappa mundi and other valuable manuscripts from Hereford Cathedral Library were kept elsewhere in safety and returned to the collection in 1946.Â In 1988, a financial crisis in the Diocese of Hereford caused the Dean and Chapter to propose selling the mappa mundi. After much controversy, large donations from the National Heritage Memorial Fund, Paul Getty and members of the public kept the map in Hereford and allowed the construction of a new library to house the map and the chained libraries from the Cathedral and All Saints’ Church. The new Library Building in the south east corner of the Cathedral Close opened in 1996.
Inventory No. M2428