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Rediscovering the Power of Physical Relief Models: Mayson’s Ordnance Model of the Lake District

Priestnall, Gary



Mayson’s Ordnance model of the Lake District, commissioned by Henry and Thomas Mayson from the sculptor Raffaelle Monti in 1875, was based upon early maps from Ordnance Survey, the government mapping agency for Great Britain. It was displayed in the town of Keswick, now in Cumbria, England, until around 1980, when it is believed to have been destroyed. A large number of original negative moulds from the model were recovered, together with other historical objects, allowing the unique characteristics of the model to be explored for the first time. The study reveals the model to have been innovative for its time, being a very early example of a relief model constructed from contours. The scientific authority of the model, along with its cartographic detail and size, was used to promote it as a spectacle for early tourists. The article describes a process of digital capture, processing, and 3D fabrication that allowed parts of the model to be analysed and redisplayed. An exhibition explored public engagement with physical landscape models, included a novel visitor-led identification of the remaining moulds. Examples of modern landscape modelling and visualization techniques helped to explore the role physical models could play in the modern visitor experience.


Priestnall, G. (2019). Rediscovering the Power of Physical Relief Models: Mayson’s Ordnance Model of the Lake District. Cartographica, 54(4), 261-277.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 29, 2018
Online Publication Date Dec 5, 2019
Publication Date Dec 5, 2019
Deposit Date Dec 14, 2018
Publicly Available Date Dec 6, 2020
Journal Cartographica: The International Journal for Geographic Information and Geovisualization
Print ISSN 0317-7173
Electronic ISSN 1911-9925
Publisher University of Toronto Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 54
Issue 4
Pages 261-277
Keywords Relief Model, 3D Reconstruction, Digital Terrain Model, Landscape Visualisation, Public Exhibition
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