Polish Map of Scotland

A remarkable monument in the grounds of Barony Castle, at Eddleston in the Scottish Borders, the Polish Map of Scotland provides a three-dimensional portrayal of the country, which models the bens and glens at a remarkably detailed scale. Extending to some 48.5m (159 feet) by 40m (131 feet), it is said to be the largest topographical relief model in the world. The map was conceived by Jan Tomasik, a Polish soldier who had settled in Scotland and become a successful hotelier, and his former commander General Stanislaw Maczek (1892 - 1994), who had led the First Polish Armoured Division based in Scotland. Maczek had his headquarters at Barony Castle during World War II. The Poles had been given the task of defending considerable sections of the east coast of Scotland against an expected invasion. To assist with their strategic planning, in relation to an unfamiliar country, a large topographic map of Scotland was created in the vicinity of the castle in late 1940. This showed roads, railways and the locations of military units but was dismantled by the end of the war.

In the late 1960s, Tomasik bought Barony Castle and invited Maczek to spend time there. Maczek had been inspired by the earlier map, but also by an outdoor map of land and water in the Netherlands that he had seen in 1944. The pair decided to create the Polish Map of Scotland as a permanent memorial and to thank the people of Scotland for their hospitality towards the Polish troops during World War II. A Polish cartographer was found to bring the project to fruition - Dr. Kazimierz Trafas (1939 - 2004) of the Geography Institute at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, along with his colleague Roman Wolnik. The planning was completed in Poland and then the pair came to Scotland in 1974 to set out the model using detailed surveying techniques. The map is at a scale of 1:10,000, with heights exaggerated by five times to ensure a recognisable topography. The model of Ben Nevis reaches 67cm (26.3 inches) in height. A 1.5m-deep oval pond was built to surround the map and flooded to represent the sea. Pumps and pipework were installed to fill inland lochs and provide rivers which flowed in a realistic manner from their sources. The construction work was completed after a ten-month break between May and July 1975. The model was painted the following year, highlighting urban areas and forests, and the pond filled with dyed water.

After becoming overgrown and lying forgotten for almost 30 years, the pond was drained and the map cleared of undergrowth by the then owners of Barony Castle, De Vere Venues. Mapa Scotland (the Great Polish Map of Scotland Restoration Committee) was formed in 2010 to ensure its restoration and preservation. The map was B-listed by Historic Scotland in 2012.

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