A Literary Tour of England with the New Cesium World Terrain


We recently introduced Cesium World Terrain, a new high-resolution global terrain tileset hosted by Cesium ion.

Durdle Door Dorset coast of England.

The new Cesium World Terrain fuses multiple data sources into a single quantized-mesh terrain tileset. In England, the terrain quality has improved from 30 meter resolution to 1–2 meter resolution. You’d be hard pressed to find a better virtual representation of the English landscape.

England, of course, has a storied history of illustrious authors, with the United Kingdom today publishing more books per capita than any other country. So bring your inner poet and let’s take a literary tour of England with the new Cesium World Terrain.


Hartland Abbey is nestled in the hills of North Devon. This screenshot shows both the hilly terrain around Abbey River, and Cesium’s water effects on the sea. Hartland Abbey was the filming location for Barton Cottage in the 1995 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Austen is one of England’s most beloved authors, thanks to her brilliantly crafted characters, witty observations of eighteenth century society, and unmatched dialogues. Her characters frequently explore the English countryside.

Hartland Abbey “Is there a felicity in the world superior to this? Margaret, we will walk here at least two hours.” Jane Austen, “Sense and Sensibility.”

Travel out toward the sea, and you can see where the hills around Hartland Abbey lead to impressive sandstone and shale cliffs along the seashore. The cliffs here around Hartland Quay were shaped into zigzagging patterns by ancient currents, which you can see in this view in a way that wouldn’t be possible in 2D.

Hartland Quay “Oh yes! I am quite convinced that, with very few exceptions, the sea-air always does good.” Jane Austen, “Persuasion.”


One of England’s best known landmarks, the White Cliffs of Dover are 300 feet high chalk cliffs facing the narrowest portion of the English Channel. This wireframe view shows the incredible detail of the terrain Cesium renders. The cliffs are the setting of a dramatic scene in William Shakespeare’s King Lear. One of the most influential writers in the English language, Shakespeare’s plays have been translated into dozens of languages, and he coined many of the phrases people use in everyday conversation today.

White Cliffs of Dover “Come on, sir; here’s the place: stand still. How fearful / And dizzy ‘tis to cast one’s eyes so low!” William Shakespeare, “King Lear.”

Lake District

England’s Lake District is a mountainous region of volcanic rock and deep glacial valleys with numerous lakes. It has been a popular vacation spot for generations, and the landscape has inspired many poets and writers.

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District. This was where William Wordsworth saw the sea of daffodils that inspired his famous poem. Wordsworth was a significant Romantic poet and one of the “Lake Poets.” The detailed Cesium World Terrain captures not just the skyline and dramatic hills around Ullswater, but also the lower hills and even subtle slopes at the shoreline.

Ullswater“I wandered lonely as a cloud / That floats on high o’er vales and hills, / When all at once I saw a crowd, / A host, of golden daffodils; / Beside the lake, beneath the trees, / Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.” William Wordsworth, “I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud.”

The Lake District is also home to some of the country’s highest mountains, including Scafell Pike, the highest peak in England at 3,209 feet. This peak is made of very hard volcanic rock that has withstood 450 million years of erosion. You can see how closely the shadows in the imagery match the rough features of the peak.

William Blake wrote about England’s mountains in his poem “Jerusalem,” which uses the legend that Jesus traveled to Glastonbury as a child to question the state of England in the Industrial Revolution. The song is England’s most popular patriotic song and was featured in the opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Scafell Pike“And did those feet in ancient time / Walk upon Englands mountains green:” William Blake, “Jerusalem.”

Until September 1, Cesium World Terrain is free for all uses when you create a free Cesium ion account. CesiumJS has a built-in ion account key since the 1.43 release. Try Cesium World Terrain in your own application, or pen your own literary thoughts on the beauties of high resolution terrain.

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