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GIS Developments

January 29, 2014

This post marks a long break in the silence on this blog, although I have been at work on the project in the past few months. One area of development has been with the GIS-related aspect of the project. Since my goal is to develop some robust mapping tools for examining the Anglo-Saxon production and circulation of manuscripts containing texts in my corpus, there is a lot to do here.

Much of this has been facilitated by working with my friend and colleague Megg Goodrich (another graduate student at UConn), who has an excellent background and training in geography and GIS software. (Megg deserves many thanks for this work so far: I am extremely grateful for the work we’ve accomplished so far, as well as for all that I’ve learned about the advanced intricacies of GIS from Megg.) What I have learned about using advanced GIS software is this: there is a lot of planning before the map is even begun. We have been busy investigating, playing with, and customizing shape files, sorting the data that I have on the manuscripts, and organizing that data into proper, software-readable schema.

The first plan of attack that Megg and I established is to start with manuscripts still held in modern British libraries: 66 total manuscripts, representative of most (though not all) of the texts in the project corpus. Here is the spreadsheet for this dataset (in Google Drive). In it, we account for a number of elements that we want to incorporate into our mapping:

  • Location (City)
  • Library
  • County
  • Coordinates (lat/long)
  • Modern manuscript number or shelfmark
  • References to catalogues by Gneuss (Handlist of Anglo-Saxon Manuscripts) and Ker (Catalogue of Manuscripts Containing Anglo-Saxon)
  • Number of texts from the corpus contained in each manuscript
  • Titles of those texts
  • Language(s) of those texts
  • Approximate date (or range) for each manuscript
  • Location of origin for each manuscript
  • Coordinates for those origin locations (not completed yet)

This spreadsheet sets up our data for importing and working with in software such as Esri’s ArcGIS, which will be our primary focus.

This is not the place to detail everything we have accomplished in ArcGIS, or everything that needs done or that we plan to do–but we are progressing. Instead, I want to present a mapped version of our data in another GIS tool, Google Maps Engine Lite:

Manuscripts Containing Judith Texts in Modern British Libraries, created with Google Maps Engine Lite.

Manuscripts Containing Judith Texts in Modern British Libraries, created with Google Maps Engine Lite.

While this tool does not have the same robust capabilities of ArcGIS, it does have some nice features–especially its accessibility and ease of mapping data quickly. So here is a link to a dynamic map of the dataset we have so far. Expect more mapping progress in the future.


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  1. If I can vive an advice: try using Google Fusion Tables together with a custom Google Map. There is a bit of JavaScript involved, but the results are really interesting. Try googling DMMmaps. Keep up the good work!

    • Brandon W. Hawk permalink

      Thanks for the advice! I do want to look at the DMMmaps to see some of the details of your work there. Your work has been a nice model and inspiration to dig into my own mapping.

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