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Curator, History of Cartography
I work with the Museum’s superb collection of sea-charts, maps and globes, recording them and researching their significance and trying to share what I learn. You can see some of the results on our Collections Online – Charts and maps pages.
My favourite part of my job
I enjoy finding connections between the cartographic collections and the other collections in the Museum, to give another angle to the stories we can tell and the themes we can explore. Cartography really does help you to understand how people viewed the world, and I don’t mean just its physical features but what their attitudes were.
The question I'm asked most often
How can I see the charts and maps?
You are welcome to view the maps and charts in the reading room of the library at Greenwich. Most of them are stored off-site, so it is essential to make arrangements with the library first, as it can take up to two weeks to retrieve some stored items.
My recommended book and links
To understand sea charts and why they show different things from maps of the land, take a look at Charting Neptune’s Realm: from Classical Imagery to Satellite Technology.
The Map History website hosts interesting discussions.
For globes, the Museum has published a superb catalogue of its outstanding globe collection: Globes at Greenwich by Elly Dekker.
Curator, History of Cartography
I studied Early Medieval Archaeology at University College London before joining the Archaeological Research Centre at NMM in 1980. I have been Curator of the History of Cartography since 2000.
Collections responsible for
- Sea charts (including portulans, harbour plans, Admiralty charts, blueback charts, cable charts, celestial charts)
- Maps (including general and thematic maps)
- Globes (including terrestrial and celestial globes, armillary spheres, orrories, and globe gores)
Areas of research and interest
My principle research interest is the historical and biographical context of surveying and map publication, relating cartography to its contemporary culture. The vast range of NMM’s collections, from the medieval portulans to the very newest products from the Hydrographic Office, provides a rich resource for understanding change.
Current NMM projects
I am writing a book about the search for Sir John Franklin during the 1850s. This is based on new primary research but is intended for non-specialist readers. The book is a multi-biographical narrative but it was sparked off by the NMM’s acquisition of a chart of the North-West Passages drawn by one of the searchers for Franklin. Charts play an important part in it.
Previous NMM projects
- Exhibition projects at NMM have included The Wreck of the Titanic. (1994)
- In the 1990s I helped to create the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, to display NMM's boat collection in conjunction with the collections of the Cornwall Maritime Museum.
- More recently I have worked on the digitization for Collections Online of the Henry Newton Stevens collection of Des Barres’ atlas, The Atlantic Neptune, funded by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation, (2006).
External fellowships/honorary positions/membership of professional bodies
- Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries
- Member of BRICMICS (the British and Irish Committee for Map Information and Cataloguing Systems)
- Medieval Ships and Shipping (Leicester University Press, 1994).
- ‘Herman Moll’s view of the South Sea company’ in Journal for Maritime Research, 2004
- ‘Caribbean colonial cartography: exploring the paper landscape’ in Colonial Landscape of the Caribbean (Society for Post-Medieval Archaeology Monograph, forthcoming 2009).