Hy-Brasil was an island which appeared on ancient maps as early as 1325 and into the 1800s. On most maps, it was located roughly 321km (200 miles) off the west coast of Ireland in the North Atlantic Ocean. One of the most distinctive geographical features of Hy-Brasil on those maps is that it often appears as a circle with a channel (or river) running east to west across the diameter.
Stories about the island have circulated throughout Europe for centuries with tales that it was the promised land of saints or a paradise where an advanced civilization lived. In Irish myth, it was said to be clouded in mist except for one day every seven years when it became visible but still could not be reached.
The Many Names of the Mysterious Island
Hy-Brasil (also called Hy-Breasal, Hy-Brazil, Hy-Breasil, Brazir) is derived from the name Breasal meaning the High King of the world in Celtic history. It was noted on maps as early as 1325, by the Genoese cartographer Angelino Dulcert where it was identified as “Bracile.” It later appeared in the Catalan Atlas in 1375, which placed it as two separate islands with the same name, “Illa de brasil”.
In 1436, it showed up as “Sola De Brasil” in the Venetian map by cartographer Andrea Bianco. Attached to one of the larger islands of a group in the Atlantic, this was identified for a time with the Mater Island. It would show up again in 1595 on the Ortelius Map of Europe and Europa Mercator Map and occasionally show up in slightly different locations on different maps over time.
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