Carta Marina

I just wanted to write a little post about plate tectonics in the Nordic countries, where I’m from. The thing is that I was just surfing the internet to get some updates from home, and one article led to another. Suddenly I was watching this ancient map of the Nordic and it really got me interested in founding out more about this.

Carta Marina is a map drew by the Swedish natural scientist Olaus Magnus over a period of twelve years, ending in about 1539. Even though there is found other maps of this area, this is considered to be the first map that is most accurate about the plate positions. Olaus went to Italy for a diplomatic visit for the Swedish government, and he stayed on in Italy. Some information is stating that he drew the map in Rome and published it in Venice, but other sources indicates that he had his office in Venice and that he also drew the map in that city.

In 1574, all copies of the map disappeared and people where questioning if the map had ever existed.  In 1886, a copy was found in Munich, Germany and in 1961 another copy was found in Switzerland. This copy was brought home to Sweden the year later and is currently still stored there for people to watch.

There is also a text in Latin on the map, which a part of it we can translate to: “A sea map with drawings of the Nordic countries and memorable things there. Precisely drew in Venice the year of 1539.

If we watch the photo on the bottom of the post, that is the Nordic countries placement today. I thought the differences was fascinating and the way that Denmark seems so much further from Norway and Sweden now, then it did at that time. Another interesting fact is that Norway and Denmark were one country from 1536 to 1814. In other words, the union of Norway and Denmark had already started when the map was done, and they have now drifted apart.

Other details that caught my eye on the maps is that Norway is much more turned to the right in the modern map and that the ocean in towards Oslo is so much longer now than it was for almost 500 years ago. Great Britain and Iceland also seems closer and when this came up during our talk about the plate tectonics, I couldn’t help myself doing some more research about this subject.

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