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Mapping Places—Exploring ‘Heritage on Our Doorsteps’ through Maps

Mapping Places—Exploring ‘Heritage on Our Doorsteps’ through Maps

Keith Lilley
Heritage Hub @ QUB

Maps help us to orientate ourselves to the past. We might use historic maps to understand what a particular place looked like at some point in history. Maps are useful to help us to draw out local stories about places, to prompt us and remind us of things that once happened. Maps provide a way of recording local ‘tangible’ heritage, too, plotting out historic buildings or monuments in landscapes. All these are ways of ‘mapping places’.

At Queen’s University Belfast, the Heritage Hub researchers and collaborators have been using maps and mapping to work with communities and heritage bodies to reveal richer and more inclusive histories of particular places as well as communicate these to wider audiences, beyond the local. Our maps though are always rooted in localities, in places.

For National Heritage Week 2020, we want to celebrate how maps can be used to tell stories about places around us.

Focusing on Derry/Londonderry and Carrickfergus, and drawing on the Royal Irish Academy’s Irish Historic Towns Atlases (IHTAs), we shall look closely at how mapping offers us insights into how these places were shaped in the past.

Looking at maps enables us to understand changes in local landscapes and think about the processes shaping them over centuries to become the places they are today. Maps help us then to orientate ourselves not just geographically, spatially, but also historically, temporally.

With the amazing rich cartographic heritage of Ireland at our disposal, our work on ‘mapping places’ has only just begun!

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