Hereford Mappa Mundi
Hereford, 2013-2016

In early 2013 a team from Factum Arte made a high resolution recording at the request of Hereford Cathedral and the Trustees of the Mappa Mundi. The glass cover is only removed once every two years for inspection. The team used the Lucida 3D scanner mounted onto a custom designed structure to provide absolute safety to the map and a firm platform for the highly accurate no-contact surface scanning process, which is done using a low intensity laser light projected onto the object and recoded continuously using black and white video cameras. Each frame is then post-processed creating the high resolution three dimensional record. Lucida 3D Scanner has been created and developed by the artist Manuel Franquelo, cofounder of Factum Arte, and it has been built and tested in Factum Arte under his supervision 

The three dimesional "map" of the surface of the Mappa Mundi will provides scholars, curators and the public with a safe and previously impossible method of studying this extraordinary object made in about 1300. From the 3D recording and other methods of forensic study new things are being discovered about the map including the compass point at the centre of Jerusalem and in the centre of the Labyrinth on Crete. With further research it may be possible to prove that the map was made in Hereford and not Lincoln after all. Visitors to Hereford the Cathedral, including the blind and partially sighted, will now have an opportunity to explore and experience the map as never before. Also a new website that features an interactive exploration area for the cathedral’s famous Mappa Mundi has just been launched, providing access to the Folio Society digitally enhanced version of the Map and the Factum Arte three dimensional surface scanned.

Lucida 3D scanner in front of the 13th century World Map.

The form, relief and texture of the Hereford Mappa Mundi was recorded for the first time. The obtained 3D data will be very valuable for researchers and conservators. 

The three dimensional reproduction of the map’s surface recorded with Lucida Scanner and the original map

Detail of the 3D render of Hereford Mappa Mundi. Scratches on the city of Paris become more visible from the texture data obtained with the 3D laser scanner. 

Routing of the map

The facsimile after being installed in Hereford. 

In January 2016, three years after the scanning of the Mappa Mundi, a team from Factum Arte, supported by Factum Foundation, returned to the Hereford Cathedral to carry out the second part of this unique documentation project: recording the colour of the map and scanning the surface of the backboard on which it may have been drawn. If we can prove that there is a direct link between the map and the backboard we will hopefully be able to call a conference of medieval and cartographic scholars to discuss where and when the map was made.
The colour of the Mappa Mundi was recorded using composite photography, a process that involves taking hundreds of high resolution macro photos. These individual shots are stitched together and lens distortions are corrected to produce a single gigapixel image of the Mappa Mundi in its current state of conservation. This image will be a valuable source of information for researchers, conservators and the general public. 

Gabriel Scarpa recording the colour of Mappa Mundi 

The 3D scanning the surface of the backboard was done using the Lucida 3D Scanner. The Lucida system has been evolving since it was first used to record the Mappa Mundi: the overall structure supporting the scanning head is more precise and robust and the software's user interface is more intuitive and easy-to-use. The flat surface of the backboard was recorded with the Lucida, while the carved border and edges were recorded using photogrammetry. 

Scanning of the backboard using the Lucida 3D Scanner

The scan of the backboard will hopefully establish a direct relationship between the ‘features’ on the Mappa Mundi and those on the oak boards. There is clear evidence of the compass point in the centre of Jerusalem, the centre of the map. If other points, like the centre of the labyrinth at Knossos in Crete can also be registered it could indicate that the mappa and the backboard belong together. Dendrochronology tests have indicated that the wood from which the backboard is made was from trees that grew in the Hereford area and were cut in 1295 AD.
As part of this research, the 3D and colour data of the map and the 3D data of the backboard will be registered together as a multi-layer digital file; an intuitive way of reading these objects without the need for having access to the original. This information will be re-materialised to create a 1:1 scale, high-resolution facsimile of the Mappa Mundi that will belong to the Cathedral and which could be made available for exhibitions that reveal the importance of the Mappa Mundi.
As the most recent outcomes in the Tutankhamun project have made clear, a great deal of new information can emerge by documenting and inspecting the relief and texture of cultural artifacts. Navigating high-resolution 3D renders of a surface, without the colour, opens possibilities into the understanding and dissemination of cultural objects.

View the full project at Factum Foundation

Lucida 3D Scanner. Created and developed by the artist Manuel Franquelo, cofounder of Factum Arte.
Manuel Franquelo: general concept and development in the areas of electronics, mechanics, optics, and software.
Built and tested in Factum Arte by Carlos Bayod, Jorge Cano, Dwight Perry, Nicolás Díez and Manuel Franquelo Jr. under the supervision of Manuel Franquelo.


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