Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Maps, Boats on telly

Bosham is the most historical village I know, having been the home of King Canute and King Harold. The church is portrayed in the Bayeux Tapestry.
But I didn't know it was so important in Roman times that it is marked on Ptolemy's map, dating from the second century AD. It was called Portus Magnus then, and the picture shows Professor Jerry Brotton discussing the map with Professor Ian Stewart at Bosham, in the last programme in the series Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession. It was clearly a bit parky because they continued their talk in the Anchor Bleu. Apparently Ptolemy got the position fairly accurately, even though he had to rely on third-hand data.
The next true delight was Tom Cunliffe in Boats that Made Britain, sailing the Matthew, a replica of the ship that Cabot sailed to Newfoundland in 1497. Cunliffe made the voyage come alive with insights only someone who had done it himself could provide. He even ate medieval gruel, and pronounced it good for morale.
Astoundingly, Cabot only stayed on the coast of America for a few days and went ashore only once. 
One detail that Cunliffe omitted, however, was that Cabot was backed not just by Henry VII but by a Bristol merchant called Richard Amerike. Did Amerike give his name to the continent Cabot spent a few brief hours exploring?

3 comments:

JP said...

It's a good week for the TV viewer interested in maritime Britain.

Enjoyed the Boats that Built Britain today with the little HMS Pickle

ChrisP said...

I enjoyed it too. A clear and informative explanation of why Pickle was so fast, and not afraid to go into technicalities (at least a little bit).
But I wish Cunliffe would stop saying "XXX changed British history.....FOR EVER."

Gavin Atkin said...

Great film and good insights, but some of it was misleading and I do wish he'd calm down...