Debate Magazine

Are Our Maps Upside Down?

Posted on the 30 April 2014 by Markwadsworth @Mark_Wadsworth

I was watching a generic History of Britain - Viking Era documentary recently and one of the throw away lines was that the Norman Invasion changed Britain's orientation from North towards Scandinavia to South towards France.

For various strategic reasons the orientation has stayed that way for a very long time. But Britain, and more so in the best parts (i.e. the stabby northern parts from whence I hail), is not really like France and Spain towards which it is pointed on most maps. Britain is a lot more like the Netherlands (the last successful invader I guess) Germany (the last successful dynastic transplant) and Scandinavia.  

And if you turn the map upside down, the fit seems much more natural, with France and pensioner depository Spain much further away than as are consciously considered. 

Are Our Maps Upside Down?

I am not suggesting that a guerrilla army be formed to storm every school and turn around maps (hmmm, or am I?). But it is an interesting thought as to how something mundane and arbitrary can shape our perception of the world.

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