IV. Late 18th century – The Rock of Brasil

John M. Atwood (fl. 1840-1883)
Map of the World, on Mercator’s Projection
New York, 1846.
By the late 18th century, the name of the elusive island had changed again – this time to the “rock” of Brasil, or “Brazil Rock.” This designation would continue to be used on maps for nearly another century. This 1846 world map produced in New York is the first example of an American-made map that includes Hy-Brasil in this exhibition. All other maps discussed up to this point in the online exhibition have been produced in Europe. In John Atwood’s map displayed here, he labels the island “Basil Rock,” but locates the island in its original position on the southwest coast of Ireland. This map uses the Mercator projection, as did a number of other maps in this exhibition from the 17th and 18th centuries.
James Imray & Son
General Chart, of the North Atlantic, or Western Ocean, from the Equator to 62° North Latitude, According to the Latest, Surveys and Observations
London, 1859.
James Imray and Son’s 1859 chart of the Atlantic Ocean is the last time we see Hy-Brasil featured on maps in this online exhibition. In this example, filled with thousands of nautical soundings (water depths), the mapmaker lists the once proud Hy-Brasil as “Brasil Rock: high [sic] doubtful.” By the second half of the 19th century, there had been no substantive evidence that any sailor, adventurer or fortunate human had ever truly set foot on Hy-Brasil. Therefore, by 1873, the island was finally removed from British Admiralty navigational charts. The legendary island of Hy-Brasil had managed to remain on maps and charts for over 500 years – a testament to the power of myth, hope and imagination.


Back to Main