When a Scottish man was hired to do some work on an old home, he never imagined what he was going to stumble upon. The home had a lot of history attached to it, and he knew the repair process was going to be long and complicated.
When the home renovation project started, he quickly hit a snag in the road. There was a mysterious piece of fabric that he found inside of the old chimney walls. At first, the man didn’t think anything of it. Thankfully, he second guessed himself and decided to give the old relic to a local museum for further study. It was this decision that changed everything. This is the amazing story of a chance discovery that proved to be historic.
Click ‘Start Slideshow’ for the incredible discovery of a piece of forgotten history!
Finding Something so Unusual
In Aberdeen, Scotland, a local man was hired to renovate an old home located in the countryside. The house was centuries old and needed quite a bit of repair. When the repairman got there, he realized he needed to do a quick tour around the house to figure out his scope of work.
When he walked into the main living space, he noticed the crumbling fireplace. He looked up into the flue and saw that there was something blocking the space. It was dark up there, so he shone a flashlight at the unknown mass. It looked like some sort of paper was stuffed into the flue, so he reached up and pulled. It was a wrinkled ball of some type of material. He didn’t give it much thought and threw it to the side. He told himself to throw it away later.
What happens next is beyond stunning. Click ‘Next’ to read on.
Taking a Second Look Changes Everything
As the hired man was about to walk away, he changed his mind rather quickly. He looked back at the ball of unknown material and walked closer. Maybe there was more to it than meets the eye. It almost looked like it had some sort of design on it. Maybe it was a canvas with an old picture on it. It looked like a previous owner had probably stuffed it in the fireplace to take care of a nagging draft.
The fabric was frayed and looked discolored. There was no doubt it had been inside that hearth for a long time. The man started to wonder where the fabric originally came from. Was it from old clothing? It could possibly be a discarded bedsheet the old owner no longer needed. Whatever it was, it looked a bit odd to him. It couldn’t hurt to take a closer look.
Click ‘Next.’ What he does with this mysterious mass is eye-opening!
Giving It Away
This could be a valuable piece of fabric. The man decided not to throw it in the trash. He couldn’t tell what it was as he was holding it in his hands. There was something telling him there was more here than what he thinks. He didn’t want to accidentally throw away a piece of history, so he decided to call for backup.
He called the local museum located a few miles away in the same city. If anyone had a chance to figure out what this crumpled mass was, it was them. When he reached the museum’s curators, he told them the story. He wasn’t sure that what he had was worth anything, but he wanted them to take a look to be sure. The museum workers were more than happy to take a look at what he was describing.
This is snowballing into something much bigger! Click ‘Next’ to read more.
Shipping It off to Edinburgh
Once the local museum saw the material, they decided to reach out to a bigger museum for help. They didn’t have the proper tools to handle what this may be. The fabric was too delicate to press on. To prevent further damage, they stopped their examination. They told the National Library of Scotland that they were going to ship the material to them.
The National Library of Scotland was ready for the shipment to come in. To them, this mysterious fabric could be something incredible. The Aberdeen museum bagged the material and shipped it inside a sturdy box. When it was received in Edinburgh, the museum workers got to work. They put on their gloves and started opening the mystifying package. At first glance, it didn’t look like much, but that soon changes.
This is a game changer! Click ‘Next’ for the ultimate discovery!
A Chance Discovery Leads to Much More
When the museum started to examine the shipment, they soon realized what they were looking at was something extraordinary. They slowly and carefully unraveled the fabric and knew it was more than rags. The museum workers knew almost soon after that this was a jackpot. They were looking at something grand. This was a map that probably dated back to the 17th century!
While they didn’t know the exact date of when the map was made, the curators were certain it was centuries old. The artifact could have been a status symbol for the previous owner of the old home. It was rare, and they couldn’t believe they got their hands on something so great. They immediately started trying to learn more about this unique find.
Click ‘Next’ to learn more. This map is tied up in some pretty amazing history!
A Map with a Background Story
In the 17th century, maps were more than just pieces of paper. They were items of valuable information than that a lot of people in that time wanted. It showed that the owner had a lot of money and affluence. The bigger the map, the more fortune the person had. In many wealthy homes, it became the centerpiece of the décor. They weren’t easy to come by, so many made sure to show it off.
The map that was found measured seven feet long and five feet wide. It was a pretty big map for its time. The museum soon called the piece the “Chimney Map,” and they knew there was a lot more to learn about it. They knew the owner of this piece had quite a bit of fortune to have this in the home. Thank goodness the man who found it didn’t throw it away!
The discovery doesn’t end here! Click ‘Next.’ This is gold!
A Treasure Trove of Information
As the examination of the map went on, the museum works found that the piece was made in London, England. George Wildey was the mapmaker and was well-known during his time. George copied maps from others and sold them across Europe.
Since this was possibly a copy of an original, the beginnings of the map were not so straightforward. They thought the Chimney Map originated in Amsterdam, Netherlands. From what they could see on the map, this made the most sense. They needed to find out where George got the original map from. The true mapmaker could answer more of their growing questions. The museum slowly started to untangle the complex web. Hopefully, they could learn more as time passes.
Click ‘Next’ for more surprises. This map is everything!
The Answers Are Coming Fast and Furiously
As the research continued, the museum began to learn a lot more about the true origins of the map. They determined the map came from Schenk and Valk. They were well-known Dutch mapmakers during the 17th century. They specialized in large maps such as this one.
The Chimney Map was made up of eight individual sheets of paper. When put together, the smaller sheets showed a very detailed diagram. It was meant to be hung up on a wall. The owner of the map had to have a large space to properly display the full chart. It was remarkable that it held together for so long. While there was some wear and tear, a lot of the map was still readable.
This map was a gorgeous work of art! Click ‘Next’ for the details.
This Map Is One In a Million
When George Wildey got a hold of the Schenk and Valk map, he had to make it his own. The map showed that he added some illustrations around the edge of the map. George sketched pictures of famous people and scenes. They were very detailed and complex.
As the museum experts worked on the map, they tried to make the map and pictures in pristine shape. They managed to restore the map to show a lot more than what was seen at first glance. It was a long and hard process. The end result proved it was worth it. The 17th century map could now tell them a lot more of the time and who the owner was. It was more than what they imagined.
Click ‘Next.’ The map is finally dated, and the result is shocking!
The Drawings Tell a Story
As the museum works looked over George Wildey’s illustrations, they started to pay more attention to what the map was telling them. His drawings gave them clues as to when the Chimney Map was made. He had drawn pictures of William III of England and his wife, Mary.
The regal couple were located in one of the main locations of the map. It made them look like the centerpiece of the fascinating chart. Because of this, the researchers dated the map to the year 1690. King William III was a devout Protestant, and this may have been why the map was hidden away for so long. It clashed with the leader’s beliefs and could have brought trouble to the owner if seen by anyone who didn’t agree with what it displayed.
There was another reason why the researchers believed the map was hidden. Click ‘Next’ to read on!
The Map Lost Value over Time
Even though there were many sides to investigate, there was one story that made the most sense. Why was the map put in the chimney? The map just simply lost its value over time. By the time the owner moved or passed away, maps didn’t hold as much worth as they once did.
The country was changing as was the world. Pieces of paper such as the Chimney Map couldn’t be traded for much longer. Actual currency was now being used over items and artifacts. Once the original owner realized this map was something with dwindling value, it may have been tossed away in anger or indifference. The chart was nothing more than a piece of insulation after the 17th century passed.
How did this map end up in Scotland? Click ‘Next’ for the puzzling answer.
The Journey of the Chimney Map
The museum curators were confused when it came to the path of the Chimney Map. How did it end up in Aberdeen, Scotland? They tried to figure out the possible course it could have taken from one country to the next. The only problem was that there was little evidence to back up any theories.
Despite this, the National Library of Scotland was pleased to have been the lucky ones to examine and restore this map to its heyday. It took a long time to get the map back to how it was originally supposed to look like. After months of working on the Chimney Map, they finally completed the project. The map was impressive and striking now that it was completed. There was no question that this piece was worth a lot of money centuries ago.
It took countless hours to restore the Chimney Map. Click ‘Next’ for the dramatic process!
A Tough Job to Work On
When a map worker was asked how the restoration process was handled, she didn’t hold back! She was overwhelmed by the huge project. She had worked as a preservationist for many years, and this map was the hardest one she had ever been faced with.
The map paper had become hard and brittle over time. It’s exposure to the elements made it wear and tear at a quick pace. There were many missing pieces to the map that they had to figure out. She worked with a team, and they had to be sure to treat even the smallest piece of paper with care. The room they worked in had to be sealed off, and only a select few had the chance to work on the huge piece.
This map really took a beating! Click ‘Next’ for more details.
Working with Great Care
The small team that worked on the map had a lot coming at them. They had to preserve the paper as best as they could, while trying to figure out the background of the map. There was a lot of information to weed through to get their answers.
The fading map also had a canvas backing that was not in the best shape. Since the paper and the twine material were so different, the materials responded to the elements in different ways. The paper was affected much worse than the thicker canvas. This made the map look distorted. Some areas were stretched out, while some parts shrank over time. It was a huge effort to lay the map flat as it was supposed to.
The restoration effort is amazing. Click ‘Next’ for more jaw dropping facts!
Laying the Proper Foundation
The team finally unrolled the map. They could now work on getting the map to lay in the proper position. They sectioned off the pieces of paper and worked on the Chimney Map piece by piece. They lay the paper down on a temporary backing that helped them tie the parts together easier.
Then, they adjusted the temperature in the room to make the paper more workable. This meant they brought in a humidifier to make the paper not so dry. This part took a while. The moisture had to slowly be brought up until it reached the desired temperature. Once the room was stabilized, the map wasn’t so brittle to the touch. They still had to be careful with the restoration, but this key step helped them quicken the process.
Click ‘Next’ for the show stopping result. This is unbelievable!
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
As time went on, the full picture was starting to show. The map was a beauty! The restoration team carefully unfolded every crease the pieces of paper had. Once that stage was complete, they had to move onto getting the parts in the right order.
It was like working a puzzle. They worked with the bigger pieces first and then went from there. As they got through each panel, they realized they were looking at a map they had never seen before. This one had so much detail and illustration on it, it looked like a painting. The museum workers spent long days trying to get the Chimney Map back to how it used to be. It was all coming together.
We are now at the end stage of restoration. This takes the cake! Click ‘Next.’
The End Is Finally Near
The last stage of the restoration process meant taking each panel and putting it in water. The temperature of the liquid had to be at 104 degrees to allow it to be preserved the correct way. Once the paper was suspended in the water, it stayed there for 40 minutes. It was a sight to see!
As the paper stayed in the water, the centuries of caked on dirt and grime began to lift away. The illustrations and drawings became more vivid. The true scope of work could now be seen in its full glory. After several days of the water process, the map looked completely different from when they first started. The team of map workers were satisfied with the results. Their work was a huge success.
What was on the map? Something astounding! Click ‘Next.’
Taking It All In
Once the map paper had dried, the team of workers stood in front of the piece to admire their work. There was so much to see and so much to take in. Each panel showcased a different seen in history. There were sea battles with large ships leading the way. George Wildey’s drawings came to life.
There were also scenes showing explorers discovering new lands. Some had a look of amazement on their faces, while some were determined to claim the new territory. The map didn’t just detail Europe. It spanned the globe. There were even scenes drawn next to South America. It was a peek into how the world was viewed centuries ago. The researchers couldn’t believe their luck! This was a moving piece of history.
This gets even better! Click ‘Next!’
On Display for the World to See
Today, the Chimney Map can be seen in the National Library of Scotland. It is in the Maps Reading Room of the famed building. It is now completely restored and is enjoyed by thousands. The 2016 discovery has brought joy to many just like it did centuries ago.
Now that it is in the National Library, it is part of one the largest map collections in the world. Of course, the Chimney Map is front and center! There are not many museums that can brag about having an intact map of this age. It was an incredible find that was hidden away for so long. The museum has taken the proper steps to make sure it doesn’t get destroyed any further.