The 17th-century artifact, widely known as the Chimney Map, was found by a Scottish man during the renovation of an old house. He had no idea the dirty bundle of rags was an antique until he saw the unusual writings on it.
One day in 1988, electrician Colin Davidson was working away in Drumnahoy Millhouse, Sauchan.
While he was feeding cables through the old Scottish house, he stumbled upon a hole.
“I pulled it out and I could see that mice had been using it as a nest, so it was full of mice [expletive],” Davidson said in a YouTube video.
At first, Davidson thought it was a bundle of rags until he saw the writing on it.
“I thought it looks pretty interesting, it looks like an antique,” he recalled.
So, Davidson placed it in a bin bag, put it in his van, and took it home.
When his wife saw the dirty rags later, she told him, “You’re not taking that in here.”
So, Colin had little choice but to give up the mysterious map to his co-worker, Les Yuill.
Yuill kept the map inside an old paint container in his garage for the next ten years, till he met Brain Crossan—a geography teacher and map enthusiast.
Yuill handed Crossan the map in 2004.
“I thought, ‘What on earth is this?’” recalled Crossan.
Crossan examined the rags on his kitchen table.
When he spotted the cartouche with William III of England on it, he knew it was a very old map that dated back to the 1690s.
Eventually, Crossan bundled the near-ravaged 17th-century map in a plastic bag and donated it to the National Library of Scotland (NLS).
“I never dreamt they would be able to restore it,” Crossan said.
Crossan saw the map once again on March 13, 2017, when it was put on public display at the National Library in Edinburgh after months of meticulous restoration work.
“This is one of the most challenging tasks our conservation team has faced and they have done a terrific job,” National librarian Dr. John Scally told BBC.
It turned out the 7-by-5-foot map was produced by Dutch engraver Gerald Valck. With only two known copies in existence, it was once hung up on the wall of an aristocratic home.
The rare antique map reveals some fascinating details of that time, such as the location of many sea battles. On its right-hand corner, there is a goat standing on the mountaintop.
“It represents a world view as seen from Amsterdam, complete with colonial ambitions. Australia, for example, appears as New Holland and the rivalry with their old enemy Spain is represented by a depiction of atrocities committed by Spanish invaders in South America,” NLS stated on its website.
While the “Chimney Map” still holds many unsolved mysteries, it’s undeniably an astonishing artifact to be admired by many.
“It would have been very easy for this map to end up at the bottom of a skip but thankfully it can now take its place among the magnificent maps held within our collection,” said Dr. Scally.
Watch the video:
Photo Credit: YouTube Screenshot | Trina Mckendrick.