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reproduction of the great medieval charter roll of Waterford, done by Sara Nylund for Rubicon Heritage services, National Roads Authority, Waterf… Read More
reproduction of the great medieval charter roll of Waterford, done by Sara Nylund for Rubicon Heritage services, National Roads Authority, Waterford County council and Waterford Museum of Treasures Read Less
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Working for Rubicon Heritage Services, I got the opportuinity in 2010 to participate in a great project; creating an image of what the Waterford Charter (or Great Charter Roll) might have looked like in its heyday. This job was one of those gems that make you love your job.

The Waterford Charter, dated to 1372 and currently housed in the medieval gallery in the Waterford Museum of Treasures, was originally drawn up as a propaganda exercise between Waterford and New Ross in a bid to confirm charter status fromKing Edward III. The King is depicted at the top of the roll, receiving the key of the city from the city sheriff and two bailiffs; while underneath this scene,the medieval City of Waterford is painted, depicting features such as churches, Reginald’s Tower, whitewashed walls and brightly coloured roofs, all meant to highlight the city's affluence. This roll is unique in Ireland and is the earliest depiction of an Irish city.


Photograph of the original medieval charter roll. All copyright lies with the Waterford Museum of Treasures
This reproduction of the Waterford Charter is purely based on a visual assessment of the Charter, rather than any technological methods such as x-rays or infrared scanning. The process started with a comparison of a 19 th century Du Noyer’s sketch, to a modern photograph of the Charter scene. The two images were placed on top of each other in a digital format, and then compared, with the differences between the images traced and recorded. After the initial sketch had been done it was concluded that there was indeed additional information that could be gleaned from the Charter which was not present on the Du Noyer sketch, and so it was decided to try and work this up to a finished image of the Charter, rather than just presenting it as a sketch.

Finished Charter Roll image as published.
To familiarise myself a bit more with the Charter, Waterford Museum of Treasures was visited to investigate and examine the original Charter, as well as a model of the medieval city itself. This greatly helped in the understanding of what details were present on the Charter. The city model was especially helpful, aspects like perspective and scale were not approached in the same way during the medieval period as today, and it can therefore sometimes be confusing to infer details from a medieval image and apply it to a modern environment. Confusing and challenging as it might be I had a great time collecting and interpreting the available data.

All the extra data collected from this exercise was incorporated into thedeveloping sketch. And after the final layout was agreed on and all features ofthe map had been sketched in, the image was worked up digitally in a style aimed to mimic, rather than replicate the Charter scene. 

This has now been published in a new book Cois tSiúire: 9000 years of Human Settlement in the Lower Suir Valley’.