Sitting just off to the side of Scotland’s Black Barony, a hotel that was formerly known as Barony Castle, is what appears at first glance to be a field of low-lying boulders covered in lichen and moss, but this is in fact a small model of Scotland.
The Great Polish Map of Scotland, as it is known, may be the world’s largest terrain relief map, but it all started as a gift from a grateful Polish soldier. Barony Castle, near the Scottish burgh of Eddleston, was requisitioned by the Polish army in World War II for training. Jan Tomasik, a Polish sergeant with the armored division, was stationed nearby helping to defend Scotland from the Germans. After WWII, Tomasik decided to remain in Scotland, reluctant to go home due to the new political regime in Poland. After the war, Barony Castle was turned into a hotel and in 1968, Tomasik actually purchased the castle and renovated it.
With a keen interest in topography, Tomasik wanted to build a scale map of Scotland on the grounds of the castle, as a thank you to the state that had become his new home. So he envisioned the Mapa Scotland, as The Great Polish Map of Scotland is also known. Construction began in 1974 and was completed in the summer of 1979. The map ended up being highly accurate despite its epic scale, measuring over 160 feet by over 130 feet, and ringed in by a squat wall. It also had running water in its rivers and lochs that was supplied by a system of pipes.
Tomasik hoped the map would bring new visitors to the castle, including royalty. Sadly this was not the case and after Tomasiks death, the castle was again sold and the huge concrete map fell into obscurity and neglect. The water features dried up and the continents began to be lost beneath weeds and moss.
Finally, in 2010, a group was formed called “Mapa Scotland” to bring the colossal model back to life. They received a small heritage grant and work began. Today, volunteers have gotten the map to a viewable state. While it no longer features the original painted colors or flowing rivers, the Great Polish Map of Scotland can still make visitors feel like a Celtic god.
Know Before You Go
On the grounds of the Barony Castle Hotel. Due to a dangerously steep ravine that separates the map from the hotel, the pathway is not wheelchair accessible. Border Buses offers a limited service to Eddleston, the X62 to Galashiels. The bus leaves from several select stops every hour to a half-hour. The journey takes about 45 minutes. It is a 10-minute walk to the hotel from the Horseshoe Hotel.