based in hexham, northumberland, differentia designs interpretation for outdoor spaces including interpretation panels, interpretive structures, seats and signs.

The Great Polish Map of Scotland

The Great Polish Map of Scotland

We have successfully completed the LEADER funded project for Mapa Scotland. This fascinating project involved; community consultation, education and activity plan, interpretation panels – we used a GRP with a ten year guarantee against fading and is in a frameless carrier tray. The panel is mounted onto our own unique ARC lectern in mild steel, interpretative leaflet and a website in English and Polish.

We worked with our colleagues at Red Plait Interpretation, Differentia West Coast and Ray Hopper Associates in order to pull together all of the strands of the project. In particular we were able to work very closely with the client and stake holders to ensure a smooth and satisfactory conclusion to the project.

The map itself is fascinating and is well worth a visit – you can see it here:

“The Great Polish Map of Scotland” was built over six summers between 1974 and 1979. It was mainly the work of a small group of Poles from the Jagiellonian University of Krakow, Poland, led by the map’s main designer, Dr. Kazimierz Trafas. They were assisted by staff from the Hotel Black Barony (Barony Castle) and Polish exchange students visiting Britain.The map was the brainchild of Krakow-born Jan Tomasik (pron. Tomaashik), a sergeant in the 1st (Polish) Armoured Division, who had been stationed in Galashiels and had married a Scottish nurse in 1942 after being treated for the effects of a wound in the town’s Peel Hospital. This photograph shows him on a building site in Poland in the 1930s.

He became a successful hotelier in Edinburgh after the war and added Black Barony to his properties in 1968.

In the early 1970s, during a ‘thaw’ in the Cold War between the Soviet Bloc and the West, Tomasik met Professor Mieczyslaw Klimaszewski, head of the Institute of Geography at the Jagiellonian University of Krakow and proposed his idea of creating a large physical relief map of Scotland in the grounds of his hotel. Cartographer Kazimierz Trafas, newly awarded his doctorate, took charge of the design work and arrived in Scotland in 1974, accompanied by his colleague Roman Wolnik. The project was managed and supervised by Tomasik’s son-in-law, hotel manager Marek Raton, who, along with the hotel’s maintenance man Bill Robson, did much of the basic construction. The labour was partly supplied by Polish exchange students seeking casual summer employment during their time in Britain.

Various influences seem to have led to the building of the map. It is known that Polish soldiers made an outline map of Poland on the ground, with towns and rivers marked, at their military camp at Douglas in Lanarkshire in 1940. This is the camp where Jan Tomasik was first stationed after his arrival in Britain. It is also known that he was fascinated by a miniature scale-model map of Belgium which he saw at the Brussels World’s Fair (Expo 1958) on his way to visit relatives in Poland in 1958. This apparently inspired him to create something similar in the grounds of Barony Castle. He wanted the map to show hotel guests the landscape of Scotland and hoped it would become a tourist magnet. He also said that he wanted to show the coastline of the country Polish forces had been responsible for defending during the war and that he hoped Queen Elizabeth, consort of King George VI, would officially open the map. He is remembered as saying to hotel patrons, mainly neighbouring farmers, on more than one occasion, words to the effect,

“I shall die, but I shall leave my map as a gift to the Scottish people to thank them for the hospitality they showed the Poles when it was needed”.

The Great Polish Map of Scotland measures some 50 metres by 40 metres and lies in an oval pit surrounded by a 142 metres long perimeter wall. Covering an area of 1590 square metres, it is understood to be the largest three-dimensional physical representation of a country and the largest outdoor relief map in the world.


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A potted history of Differentia

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