Page last updated at 17:17 GMT, Thursday, 2 July 2009 18:17 UK

New Mappa Mundi for castle tower

Phil and Tamara Pleasant working on their map
Working on the map was a meticulous task

A husband and wife have produced what is claimed to be the first major modern recreation of the medieval Mappa Mundi, as part of an English Heritage project.

Phil and Tamara Pleasant created the Mappa Mundi, or map of the world, modifying calligraphy from a bible manuscript of the 1160s.

They made the map for a £2m project at Dover Castle in Kent, where a suite of royal rooms is being re-created.

The couple, from Worcester, handcrafted the map on calfskin.

Measuring 3.6 ft by 4.6 ft (1.09m by 1.40m), it also features 23.5 carat gold leaf.

Asia can be seen at the top of the map, with Europe to the left, Africa to the right and the island Delos at the centre of the world, in accordance with ancient Greek traditions.

'Wonder of creation'

The couple said: "The creation of this map has been a challenge because of the very short period of time, the exacting standards and the need to remain honest to the stylistic conventions of the time."

Steven Brindle, historian at English Heritage, said: "Medieval maps are laden with meanings and convey a worldview typified by a fear of God and the end of time, but also in awe of the scale and wonder of creation.

"Phil and Tamara's dedication to an ancient craft means that not only do we have a highly authentic piece of re-creation but a beautiful piece of art in itself."

The map is set to take centre-stage of the King's Hall at Dover Castle's keep, or the Great Tower, where English Heritage is undertaking a £2m transformation to recreate its appearance and atmosphere on the occasion of a royal visit around 1184.

The keep, due to open on August 1, was the lavish creation of Henry II, considered by some to be the greatest castle-builder of his age.

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