Monday, January 31, 2011

Untrue North

An arctic of only (now melting) ice is sort of boring, don’t you think? At least in comparison to the flights of Age of Exploration fancy. Why settle for just ice when you could have a magnetic Black Rock, a swirling whirlpool, and islands of pygmies? Check out this 1595 map:


Gerard Mercator’s (yes, that Mercator) based his maps and his descriptions in a letter to John Dee off older works. He describes a landmass divided into four lands by channeled through which water rushed into the whirlpool surrounding the Pole, and.”descends into the earth just as if one were pouring it through a filter funnel.” This unusual geography supposedly led to the deaths of 4,000 men from the expedition King Arthur had sent to the islands.

At the pole itself, in the center of the maelstrom, was a giant black, a mountain, Rupes Nigra--the Black Precipice. As Mercator writes: “Its circumference is almost 33 French miles, and it is all of magnetic stone. And is as high as the clouds...” It’s magnetism was said draw ships made with iron nails to their doom.

After reading about all of this, I think I know what the North Pole of the City’s world is like...

7 comments:

C'nor (Outermost_Toe) said...

Yaaaaaaaaaagh... What do you mean my plate mail is ferrous!?!?

Greg Gorgonmilk said...

Everything should be measured in French miles.

That map, c'est magnifique. And this black rock thing is mind-blowingly awesome. The whole notion of a powerfully magnetic landmass is something I may need to incorporate...

Sean Robson said...

An arctic of only (now melting) ice is sort of boring, don’t you think?

I'll let you know. I've got fieldwork planned in the arctic for this summer and I'm counting on polar bears to keep things interesting ;)

Gorgeous map; and yeah, there's always room for pygmies!

Trey said...

@C'norr - Welcome to the Black Rock for the rest of your life, Adventurer.

@Greg - Definitely. I figure powerful magnets also disrupt thaumaturgy as well..

@Sean - Interesting! Well, watch out for whirlpools and Arthurian survivors. ;)

James said...

Extra points for linking John Dee.

Unknown said...

Some of the "scientific theories" of that age are nothing short of mind-boggling. Like the fact that there is a giant magnetic mountain on top of the world. I'm pretty sure their arguments were well founded.

A related question, Trey. Is your world hollow?

Trey said...

@James - Accepted. :)

@Harald - Good question. Some of its inhabitants certainly think so, and have evidence to support their claim, but definitive proof has not yet been provided.