Kim Traynor/Wikimedia Commons

A preceding model was created by exiled Polish troops to defend the Scottish coastline.

After falling in defeat to the Nazis in World War II, the Polish tank commander Stanislaw Maczek went into exile in Scotland, where he commanded a force of Polish refugees from Barony Castle, south of Edinburgh. Their task was to defend the fractal Scottish coastline, for which General Maczek ordered the construction of a giant outdoor map of 300 square meters, complete with roads, railways and brass miniatures.

Thirty years later, a Polish businessman named Jan Tomasik who had served under Maczek bought the castle and decided he wanted to recreate the map. He hired Kazimierz Trafas, a Polish student from Krakow who studied geography and planning, and together they reconstructed the United Kingdom's largest three-dimensional map. Getting the elevations correct proved a particular challenge, as any mistakes were poured in concrete and had to be erased with a jackhammer.

At the time, the map, made of concrete and plaster, sat in a moat, with the water filling in the inlets and coves of the coastline like the sea. Here is how Janusz Szewczuk described [PDF] the finished product, in 1976 (compare with the above photograph):

"...in the early spring the model was painted by contractors. The forests and urban areas were highlighted; water was pumped into the map, supplying the rivers and lakes. The pool wall was plastered; the last few remaining islands were modeled and the pool would be filled with dyed water so that the observer would focus on the map rather than on the bottom of the pool. It was planned to build a metal footbridge over the model to allow visitors a viewing platform without damaging the surface."

But soon afterwards Tomasik passed away, the castle changed hands, and the map was largely forgotten. Today it is cracked and overgrown. But soon it may be restored to its original glory.

After an intensive recent effort to raise awareness for its preservation, the map was granted "listed status" this week, placing it on Scotland's list of protected sites and structures. Locals hope that now the map will be restored to its original condition. For an aerial photo, see here.

Top image: Kim Traynor/Wikimedia Commons.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Equity

    Why Not Just Stop Paying Rent?

    Because of coronavirus, millions of tenants won’t be able to write rent checks. But calls for a rent holiday often ignore the longer-term economic effects.

  2. photo: a For Rent sign in a window in San Francisco.
    Coronavirus

    Do Landlords Deserve a Coronavirus Bailout, Too?

    Some renters and homeowners are getting financial assistance during the economic disruption from the coronavirus pandemic. What about landlords?

  3. photo: South Korean soldiers attempt to disinfect the sidewalks of Seoul's Gagnam district in response to the spread of COVID-19.
    Coronavirus

    Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem

    Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.  

  4. Coronavirus

    Why Asian Countries Have Succeeded in Flattening the Curve

    To help flatten the curve in the Covid-19 outbreak, officials at all levels of government are asking people to stay home. Here's what’s worked, and what hasn't.

  5. Equity

    We'll Need To Reopen Our Cities. But Not Without Making Changes First.

    We must prepare for a protracted battle with coronavirus. But there are changes we can make now to prepare locked-down cities for what’s next.

×