I enjoyed reading Hamish Brown's book about Scottish curiosities, The Oldest Post Office in the World. Many of them I had heard of already, such as the decorated bus shelter in Unst or the Elie Chain Walk. But then, in the chapter on the Borders, I was stopped in my tracks with something that blew me away. Something I had never ever heard of before, something the existence of which I had not even guessed at.
The map from Google Earth:
Ever since reading about this remarkable and almost completely unknown map I have been dying to see it for myself, and recently the opportunity arose.
You start in the grounds of the Barony Castle Hotel, in the village of Eddleston a few miles north of Peebles.
Barony Castle Hotel:
An intriguing sign directs you round the side of the hotel and onto a bridge over a little gorge, a waterwheel at one end.
This way please...
And then you get to the map!
Wigtonshire on the map:
What's this all about? During the Second World War, the Polish army in exile was based in the Borders, and Barony Castle was one of the army's headquarters, the base for General Stanisław Maczek. After the fall of Germany, Poland was overrun by the Soviet Union and Polish soldiers were not welcome home. Lacking a homeland, many Poles remained in Scotland, and Maczek and another Pole, Jan Tomasik (who had taken over the running of Barony Castle as a hotel) decided in 1975 to build a giant map of Scotland. And not just any map - this map had an exaggerated relief, coloured contours, piped rivers, and was surrounded by water.
Over the years the map has deteriorated, but plans are afoot to restore it to its former glory. You can get in touch with the campaign to rstore it at http://www.mapascotland.makers.org.uk/ - or just go and visit it for yourself, sitting peacefully and almost unknown, in the grounds of Barony Castle, Pebblesshire.
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