Meet the man who has created a Tolkienesque fantasy map of Bristol
Chris Birse is on a mission to plot the whole of the UK in a series of Middle-earth-style maps
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For somebody who says he can’t draw to save his life, Chris Birse has created something quite special with his detailed, Tolkienesque fantasy map of Bristol.
Inspired by The Lord of The Rings writer, Chris is on a mission to plot the whole of the UK in a series of Middle-earth-style maps.
Chris has even given up his day job as an Aldi manager to concentrate on the work, as well as look after his one-year-old daughter.
“I was writing a fantasy novel three years ago and I needed a map for the start of the book and quite enjoyed the process,” says Chris, who lives in Darlington.
“For a bit of fun I made one of my home region in Teeside and got a really positive response and it sparked people into asking me to make maps of other regions.
“I then did Gloucestershire and Somerset and suddenly got loads of requests from people asking me to do one of Bristol as they wanted to see the city in more detail.”
The Bristol map has taken longer than expected due to the amount of landmarks people have suggested appear on it.
Although Chris has visited Bristol a few times over the years, most of the research has been done online.
“I joined a lot of local postcode groups on Facebook and asked people for their input. I asked them what they would like to see represented on the map in terms of local landmarks, ancient ruins and so on. The people of Bristol have come up with all sorts, it’s brilliant.
“I was really interested and surprised about the legends of the giants like Goram and Vincent so there have been a lot of requests for that folklore side of Bristol being represented on the map.
“People have also asked me to include the various hill forts, stone age fortifications, Roman stuff and some of the industrial heritage like old mills.”
Chris creates the maps digitally but uses icons and fonts with a Tolkienesque look, although he admits he wishes he could draw them.
“I can’t draw to save my life and it’s all done on Photoshop. I didn’t even do art at school - I can’t actually draw at all.
“It started as a hobby when I was working at Aldi and I taught myself by watching YouTube tutorials. I’ve just developed my own style over the past three years.
“I’m not trying to plagiarise Tolkien’s work, and I think mine are a lot more detailed, but I just want to represent as many of the different areas that people have requested.”
Chris says the Bristol map is nearly finished but he welcomes any last-minute suggestions for places to appear on it. He’ll then be selling prints and canvasses of the map online.
“They make really nice gifts for people who are into Lord of The Rings or cartography, but a lot of people buy them for their grandparents.
“It’s also a reminder of home for people who have moved away from areas, and pubs and schools might also want to buy them.
“People often say they didn’t realise certain landmarks were on their own doorstep and the maps make them want to go out and explore their areas more, which is great.”
To order the Bristol map when it’s complete, click here.