Keith Burns, Mapa Scotland SCIO trustee, takes us through the history of the Great Polish Map of Scotland...


Between 1975 and 1979, a mysterious venture unfolded in a clearing within the secluded grounds of Barony Castle Hotel at Eddleston.

It was the brainchild of Jan Tomasik, a Polish soldier and businessman who had bought the hotel to run it with his family.

Tomasik had been a soldier with General Stanislaw Maczek’s 1st Armoured Division.

Having survived the Normandy landings and the Battle of Falaise during World War II, Tomasik and General Maczek settled in Scotland along with thousands of other Polish soldiers, unable to return to their homeland.

Tomasik and Maczek (who had settled in Edinburgh after the war) were eager to express their gratitude to the Scottish people who provided a refuge for the Polish soldiers and airmen who had survived the war.

Barony Castle had served as an officer training college for the Polish forces preparing to defend Scotland and to help to liberate Europe from the Nazis.

So the hotel was a fitting location for Tomasik’s audacious project.

In the early 1970s, with the assistance of Professor Klimaszewski from Krakow University, Tomasik enlisted a group of talented young cartography students from Krakow led by Kazimierz Trafas.

Despite the tense atmosphere of the Cold War, Klimaszewski’s special responsibility lay in cultivating links between the Polish People’s Republic and members of the Polish diaspora.

Tomasik was by then a successful British businessman.

When he sought Klimaszewski’s advice on building a model of Scotland, the professor responded by sending members of his cartographic department.

Leader Trafas was to design and construct a colossal 3D relief model of Scotland.

The Great Polish Map of Scotland began to take shape in 1975, a 60m-long and 40m-wide pit, to contain the Scottish landscape surrounded by water to represent the sea.

Local volunteers joined forces with the students to bring the project to life.

The map began to take form, but by 1979 it was only partially completed.

The water supply system experienced significant leakage, and a serious fire damaged the hotel.

With new priorities, Tomasik and his family sold the hotel, leaving behind his grand vision of the Great Polish Map.

The loss of Tomasik was the end of the driving force behind this unique endeavour.

As the years passed, the map fell into decay and was almost lost from local memory, overshadowed by more pressing survival responsibilities faced by subsequent new owners.

The 3D landscape gradually became overgrown and damaged by harsh winter conditions.

Although there were a couple of restoration attempts, time was winning the battle against decay.

In 2012 a group of enthusiasts formed a new charity called Mapa Scotland.

Its mission was to restore the map as a vital historic link to the Polish diaspora scattered across Scotland, along with their subsequent generations.

This coincided with new hotel owners who were more sympathetic to the fate of the map. Mapa Scotland secured grant aid from the hotel, local authority, Scottish Government, Polish Foreign Ministry, European Leader Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund, Polish ex-Combatants Association and generous public donations. The map was, at long last, restored and a water supply installed to surround the map with the “sea”, as originally intended. In April 2018, the 100th anniversary year of Polish independence, the map was formally reopened.

As the end of June approaches, the 10-year lease granted by the hotel to Mapa Scotland SCIO for the restoration project will expire. The Mapa Scotland project group has worked hard over the past decade and more to restore the map and uncover its history. It is now a listed historic monument and a great asset to the hotel and for the Borders region. Care of the map returns to the hotel. It is of great importance to the region’s history and to local tourism. We must all ensure its preservation for future generations. Groups wishing to help with promoting Mapa Scotland’s educational and heritage objectives should contact