Maps

A range of maps and atlases can be accessed online, as well as onsite at the British Library, St Pancras. We also provide a link to a Georeferencer Data interactive map, an online tool which allows historic maps to be viewed alongside modern-day mapping.

Maps | Ordnance Surveyors’ Drawings of England and Wales (1789 - ca. 1840) | Maps available on Flickr commons | OS Maps ‘Know Your Place West of England’ | Georg Schimper Maps | Beudecker Atlas | Georeferencer Data | Mapping Lineages: Quantifying the Evolution of Maps of the British Isles | Chinese Maps | War Office Archive - British East Africa

Ordnance Surveyors’ Drawings of England and Wales (1789 - ca. 1840)

351 high quality Jpegs of the original preliminary drawings produced by the Board of Ordnance between the 1780s and 1840 covering the whole of Wales and most of England south of an east-west Preston-Hull line. This series of maps, executed to military standard, represents the first consistent topographic mapping of England and Wales and are the most detailed record of the rural, pre-industrialised landscape. Topographic details captured in colored ink include land use, canal and road networks, placenames, built features, enclosed and unenclosed land, bridges, as well as water courses and relief.

The maps were drawn to scales of six-inch to the mile (1:10, 560) on coastal areas of military significance such as the Kent coast, Isle of Wight and the south Devon coast, and three and two-inch (1:21,120 and 1:31,680) northwards. Please feel free to browse the collection.

A small subset of high quality TIFFs are available on wikimedia.

Possible ideas:
  • Stitching maps to make a seamless mosaic - this will be tricky as there is overlap and difference scales
  • Cropping - removing white space / margins - tricky so as not to lose any information

Collection level and geospatial metadata for this collection is available upon request in XML format and CSV format.

Access Conditions

This material is available under an open government licence.

Maps available on Flickr commons

Hundreds of maps are available on the British Library's Flickr commons site.

Access Conditions

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This material is in the public domain in most countries.

OS Maps ‘Know Your Place West of England’

8.000 Ordnance Survey maps of the West of England released by the British Library in collaboration with other institutes and the South Gloucestershire Council aim at helping people explore the South Gloucestershire and the West of England region through historic maps, images and linked information.

Information about the project can be found here.

Access Conditions

Please email labs@bl.uk

Georg Schimper Maps

Schimper’s maps are geological and geographical records in which he tried to make visible what shaped the three areas which he crisscrossed over the decades. By explaining the rock formation and conglomerate rock deposits beneath the surface, he could show how the underlying geological facts influenced and determined the geography, which in turn presented the key to understanding the flora and fauna of the country and ultimately its agriculture and life-supporting systems. Schimper sent rock samples with the maps and profiles and they are housed in the Natural History Museum in London and in the Museum für Naturkunde, Mineraliensammlung, in Berlin.

Feel free to browse one of the maps.

Access Conditions

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This material is available under a CC0 license.

Beudecker Atlas

The collection is built around two volumes of Joan Blaeu’s maps of towns of the Netherlands, Tooneel der Steden van de Vereenighde Nederlanden (1649), and the section of Blaeu’s Atlas Major that covers the Netherlands. To these, Beudeker added further volumes containing hundreds of maps, drawings, views, portraits and historical and satirical prints ranging in date from 1600 to 1756. Further additions made after Beudeker’s death extend the coverage of the collection to 1815.

To view the Atlas please click here.

Access Conditions

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This material belongs to the Public Domain.

Georeferencer Data

Cartographic data which has been crowd sourced by the British Library to georeference old maps against contemporary digital map data.

Online geographic tools allow historic maps to be viewed alongside modern-day mapping, allowing comparison of the past with the present and enhancing findability. Georeferencing, i.e. assigning points on a map image to corresponding geographical coordinates, links the historic map to its spatial location on the ground using universal geographic standards (latitude / longitude).

The Georeferencing tool can be found online here.

Access Conditions

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This material is available under a CC0 license.

Medieval Maps

A series of manuscript medieval maps and location related material.

Access Conditions

Please email labs@bl.uk

Mapping Lineages: Quantifying the Evolution of Maps of the British Isles

41 digitised images, mostly consisting of maps, digitised on behalf of the University of Liverpool.

A link to the collection to follow.

Access Conditions

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This material is in the public domain in most countries.

Chinese Maps

The collection numbers 130 of the British Library’s manuscript and printed Chinese maps created between 1644 and 1911.
It will be made available through Wikimedia Commons.

Access Conditions

Please email labs@bl.uk

War Office Archive - British East Africa

Totalling 502 map sheets & 57 pages of text (first 55% of the material)

The sheets and pages can be found here:
https://wiki.bl.uk:8443/display/DSSP/DAR00544+-+War+Office+Archive+-+British+East+Africa

Access Conditions

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This material is under a PD license for out of copyright and a OGL license for in copyright.