How to Make a Medieval Village Map

By Mary Strain
Medieval maps often included elaborate flourishes.

If you've been assigned it as a school project, if you're going to be part of a Renaissance fair, or if you just like the way it looks, drawing a medieval village map is fun and educational. A trip to the local art store should supply you with everything you need to make a reasonably accurate-looking map. Feel free to embellish, too: throw in a dragon or sea monster on the outskirts of town.

Determine the composition of your town. If you're drawing an actual town, draw or trace from ancient maps. If yours will be a fictional town, you're free to do what you please, but keep in mind that medieval villages were usually small, comprised mostly of a few houses or businesses clustered around a central geographical feature such as a crossroad or river. There was usually a church at the center of town, and possibly a manor house or mill nearby. The village would be surrounded by fields.

Sketch a rough draft of your map on plain paper. If you're a skilled artist, you can do this freehand; if you feel you need help, copy from an archival map or purchase a book of medieval symbols and artwork. Once you're satisfied with the result, use tracing paper and a pencil to transfer it lightly to the art paper. Then fill it in, using a calligraphy pen and brown ink for an antique look.

Throw in a few decorative flourishes. Once the main body of the map is complete, add an elaborate compass, a few serfs tilling the fields, a priest blessing the peasants, or the local lord or lady riding through town in full regalia.

Distress the edges of the map by picking a piece off here and there, or carefully singeing the edges. Alternatively, once the ink is dry and the danger of smudging is past, roll the map up and seal it with a blot of red wax, as if it was only just discovered in some ancient vault.

About the Author

Mary Strain's first byline appeared in "Scholastic Scope Magazine" in 1978. She has written continually since then and has been a professional editor since 1994. Her work has appeared in "Seventeen Magazine," "The War Cry," "Young Salvationist," "Fireside Companion," "Leaders for Today" and "Creation Illustrated." She earned her Bachelor of Arts in English from Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.