Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Medieval Tube Map

If you ever find yourself hanging around in the 11th century, be sure to carry a copy of the Medieval Tube Map. The chart shows the many small hamlets, manors and landmarks that you might have visited in and around London during the Middle Ages.
It was an era utterly untroubled by signal failures; a time when you might be imprisoned for swiping an Oyster. If your means of locomotion ever broke down, you’d need only to feed it some more hay, and off you’d go again.
Many of the names will be familiar. The Black Freres were settling in nicely in the south-west corner of the City. The small hamlets of Stokewelle, Clopeham, Totinges and Mordune clustered around the old stone road to the south. The adventurous traveller might also sojourn to the extreme north, and visit the villages of Barneto, Myllehill or Cokfosters. But then, too, there are many names that might be unfamiliar. Who now ventures to Tokyngton?

How it works

The medieval period spans something like 1,000 years, covering the centuries from the Roman withdrawal around 400 AD to the rise of the Tudors in the late 15th century. Place names, of course, changed greatly over this time and those on the map were not necessarily all in use at the same time. Where applicable, we’ve favoured spellings used in the Domesday survey of 1086. Elsewhere, we’ve taken the earliest recorded version of a place name. Many stops on the tube map didn’t exist as a dwelling place, but were open fields, woodland or meadow during the Middle Ages. In such cases, we’ve taken the name of the land owner, or a nearby geographical feature such as a river or hill. We managed to find something convincing for the vast majority of locations. The astute reader, however, will find the occasional difficult fit.
Absent from the map: we’ve left off the Waterloo and City line for clarity. The DLR and Overground are also absent. The former would mostly comprise a long list of variations on ‘marshland'; the latter would have driven us crazy.
We welcome suggestions for improving the map, and intend to update it. Please email if you think a particular station could be better named.