If you are lucky enough to come across a carved map, and most of us are because it seems like they are everywhere, the size of the symbols in the map can be a clue. This is especially true with outlaw maps but it can also be true with maps from other groups. Maps can consist of just 3-4 symbols or they can be very elaborate and have 20 or 30 or more symbols in them. As you look at your map you need to decide if there is a pattern to the map. Are the symbols in lines like a sentence? Are they in groups separated by a space? Is there something around them like a box or circle? All of these things will be important and will relate to how you interpret the symbols.
As you progress through the symbols in a map you may notice that the symbols in one line or section are bigger than the ones in another line or section. The size of the symbols can be relative to the size of the “moves” or the distances you will travel with each “leg” of the carving. In some cases the size of the symbols can directly relate to the distance to travel. If a symbol is half the size of a previous symbol then the distance traveled when working that symbol may be half the distance. So if you have a symbol that is four inches in size on the map and the distance you traveled working that symbol was fifty feet then if the next symbol is half the size of the last symbol then there is a better than average chance the distance you will travel on this symbol will be about half or around 25 feet.
Interpreting symbols on a carved map is as much about what the previous symbol told you to do, as it is about the current symbol you are working on. One symbol can directly correlate to the other depending on how the map was meant to be used. As the size of the symbols change it can mean the distances that you travel change in relation to the size. It can also mean that the physical clues you find as you work the map may be changing in size, getting smaller or larger depending on what the carved symbols are doing. By varying the size of the symbols in the map the mapmaker was giving himself additional information about the clues while hiding this information from people who aren’t paying attention to the details.
The size of a symbol can also relate to its importance in the map. You may have a map with one or two symbols that are larger than the others. This would indicate that the larger symbol(s) is an important piece of the puzzle. It could be a spot in the map where things get reversed or it may be a spot where you will find additional carvings that aren’t on the original map. You may have more than one cache and the first cache could be located at the point in the map where you have a larger symbol. Part of the map may be garbage to throw you off and the larger symbol shows you that this is the end or beginning of the actual map. These spots can be almost anything but a lot of the times the symbols were made larger to point out that they are more important compared to the other symbols.
Once you begin to work a carved map or any map for that matter, you will see a pattern start to emerge on how the mapmaker’s mind worked. Don’t ignore these patterns. They will help you think like the mapmaker did and this will make interpreting the map that much easier.
“It’s not what you look at, but what you see”