Topographical elements are often focal points in many historical and fantasy maps. Mountains and rivers, shorelines and steppes, swamps and rolling hills, it’s easy to see why topographers found and still find these elements important. They shape the world around us. They influence lore, legend, and ultimately culture. They challenge humanity.
Yet, in many parts of the world, these features are often nonexistent. Take Eugene Henry Fricx’s Cartes des Paysbas et des Frontieres de France—an incredibly detailed 18th Century map of northern France and Belgium that was created over a period of twenty-one years and fully published in 1727. If you’ve been to that part of the world, you’ll understand immediately why those features aren’t present. Much of Northern France and Belgium is incredibly flat. I spent some time there earlier this year and while the countryside and farmlands (and beer) are beautiful, I can see how a cartographer would instead choose to focus on other details.
It’s with that introduction that I’m excited to share my latest brush set: Harrewyn. Named after the Dutch engraver Jacobus Harrewijn who may or may not have been dead when this map was finally published by Fricx in 1727. While a few landform and flora symbols persist—hills, forests, and the occasional swamp—they’re not the focus. Instead, Harrewyn chose to emphasize towns and villages, cities and manor houses, farms and windmills, gallows and chapels. It’s a map focused on the developed over the natural.