It is 1538. You are sitting in a light airy study in the university of Louvain. You can hardly see the desk in front of you for the piles of maps beautifully drawn on thick old parchments. Scattered amongst the old manuscripts are strange oval map segments. What can they be for?

A cough on the other side of the room makes you look up. You see an old gentleman in heavy robes. It is Mercator, the master mapmaker. He shuffles over and hands you a strange drawing – a map of the world divided up into 12 of these segments. Then he asks you to make the flat map into a sphere! You gasp with surprise, 'Surely that's not possible?'

'Try it and find out,' he smiles.

To make the globe you will need

  • Scissors
  • Sellotape

What to do

  • Use the links below to download the instructions and the globe template.
  • The template is made from an old Tudor map. It is made up of 12 segments (called 'gores') that can be formed into a ball.
  • Use the instructions to build your own Tudor globe.

High quality (PDFs)

Low quality (JPEGs/HTML)

More about globes and maps

Mapmakers (cartographers) learnt how to make flat maps of the world by filling in the gaps between these segments. They could only do this by stretching out the countries near the north and south poles. You can see that the segments get thinner towards the tips. This means there are bigger gaps to be filled, so the countries have to be stretched further. This is where the most distortion occurs.

We call flat maps of the earth 'projections'. The most famous projection was created by Mercator. It is called the Mercator Projection.


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