It was scrunched up into a ball and stuffed up a chimney as a makeshift draught excluder.
Encrusted in dirt, and severely damaged by vermin and insects, it was destined for a skip after being discovered during the renovation of a house in Aberdeen.
But acting on a hunch that it might be of some value, the finder handed it into the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh and suggested it may be worth a look at.
What appeared on first inspection by staff to be “a bundle of rags” has instead turned out to be a rare 17th century map of the world – and one of only three in existence.
Now the map, handed in anonymously inside a plastic carrier bag, has been given pride of place in the national collection after undergoing a six-month restoration.
It is thought that the map, 7ft wide and 5ft tall, would have been displayed as “a symbol of power” by a wealthy family. It has been dated to around 1690 and features depictions of William III and his wife Mary, who were crowned joint monarch of England, Scotland and Ireland after James II was ousted from the throne in the “Glorious Revolution”.
Curator Paula Williams said: “A gentleman turned up one afternoon with a poly bag kind of balled up. Apparently he had found the map during some renovations and was keen that we have a further look at. All we know is that it was stuffed up a chimney.
“We assume from the ball shape that it had been used probably to stop a draught. There is a more fun theory it had perhaps been stowed away because it showed William and Mary, but in reality it was probably to stop very cold wind coming through.”