Moving from the Bay of Bengal to Iceland, sea charts are the most mobile documents in the early modern world
My research into medieval maps in Icelandic manuscripts revealed that there are even more maps on the covers of manuscripts in the Árni Magnússon Collection than there are inside them.
These charts, which were recycled as binding material for the saga manuscripts collected by Árni Magnússon, are profoundly important to understanding how Scandinavian maritime cultures conceptualised the waterways that connected them, and are unique witnesses also to the history of European operations in South East Asia. Moving from the Bay of Bengal to Iceland, sea charts are the most mobile documents in the early modern world, and their story touches on all the shores to which they travelled.
These sea chart bindings are the most widely travelled manuscripts in the Árni Magnússon Collection, having been used by pilots navigating coastlines from the English Channel to the Straits of Bangka in Indonesia. I have written blogposts on the appearance of words in Malay and Indonesian languages on these maps, and the 1667 wreck of the Dutch ship known as Gullskipið (the gold ship) in southern Iceland.