The Library has over 220,000 freely available zoomable maps online on our Map Images website. The core content focuses on maps of Scotland from the 16th to the 20th century, but there is good coverage too of Ordnance Survey maps of England and Wales in the 19th and 20th century, and a growing number of overseas locations.
All our maps can be used with two related map viewers, using either Bounding Boxes of maps, or a Marker Pin. Many of our sets of series maps have been georeferenced, allowing them to be visualised as an overlay layer upon modern map or satellite background layers. Georeferencing allows maps to be presented in a range of engaging viewers, including a side-by-side split-screen viewer, through a spy glass, or in 3D. It also allows many other useful functions such as measuring areas and distances, extracting and overlaying features with real world locations, and integrating the maps with other geospatial data.
We have an active scanning and georeferencing program, with around 30,000 new maps scanned every year, and regular new website additions.
Tools for reusing georeferenced maps
Our Historic Maps API provides a free way of re-using a georeferenced layer of Ordnance Survey mapping (1920s-1940s) covering England, Scotland and Wales. The historic map layer can be easily incorporated into another website or web-mapping application, or into a desktop GIS application, and used like Google, OpenStreetMap or Bing layers.
Our Historic Maps Subscription API layers allow similar re-use for a range of more detailed scales of georeferenced mapping. These API layers are hosted on a resilient, fast, cloud-based infrastructure, so they are reliable and scalable, and the subscriptions cover these costs.
Tools for viewing maps and geospatial data
The Library has actively developed open-source map viewers on the Maps website. Free and widely used web-mapping applications such as OpenLayers and GeoServer form the basis of these applications.
We have shared the code behind all our map viewers on GitHub, along with brief notes to guide their onward use These viewers include those for search and retrieval of maps, viewing and interacting with georeferenced layers, as well map applications for visualising other Library collections. The Library has also put together online workshops and more detailed online papers with advice on setting up and developing these viewers.
Tools for viewing boundaries
Our interactive Boundaries viewer allows counties and parishes from the, 1840s, the 1950s, and unitary authorities, districts and boroughs in use today, to be viewed on a range of different map backgrounds. You can zoom in on any location to view the county, parish, or unitary authority that the area is in, and how this changed over the last 150 years. Many other family and local history records are associated with these administrative jurisdictions, especially parishes, and viewing their location and extents is often useful. The viewer is accompanied by detailed information on the history of these administrative units, significant legislation that has affected them, and cartographic information sources which show the development of these units over time.