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Great Polish Map of Scotland

Why not build the world’s largest terrain relief model in the grounds of a Peebleshire castle? In the 1970s, Jan Tomasik did just that. Now the town is bringing Jan’s map back to its former glory.

This was an easy pick for our Top 10 Things we Love.

First of all, there’s the size: a selfie-defying 50 metres long and 40 metres wide.

As miniatures go, it’s not so miniature. Then there’s the ambition: to craft a three-dimensional concrete model of Scotland, in near-perfect 1:10,000 scale.

However, this tale of derring-do and classic British eccentricity actually starts in Poland. Jan and his fellow Poles fought with the 1st Armoured Division stationed in Galashiels. He then settled in Peebles after the war, eventually becoming the owner of the Black Barony hotel.

In 1974, Jan decided to build the map in the hotel grounds – his thank-you to the people of Scotland for their hospitality. He drove all the way to Krakow to pick up five recruits – then finished the incredibly complex job over the next six summers. (Concrete and the Scottish winter don’t mix well.)

What really strikes you is the detail. Mountains? Check. There’s Ben Nevis, Suilven and Ben Lomond. Seas, lochs and rivers? Check – piped in directly from the Dean Burn.

The Tomasik family’s involvement with the hotel came to an end in 1990, and the map was quietly forgotten – except by a band of local enthusiasts.

After a lot of hard work – and a listing by Historic Scotland – the restoration process is well under way. Volunteers have cleared rubble, restored the rivers and seas – and even built an overhead viewing platform.

There’s nothing else quite like it. The only way to appreciate the detail and the sheer size is to see Jan’s incredible map for yourself.

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