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View our Cairt newsletter for further updates and information about Scottish map resources.


New OS maps for south-west England

New OS maps for south-west England

We have been pleased to collaborate with the British Library in a recent project, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, to scan, georeference and make available more Ordnance Survey mapping for south-west England. The project forms part of the Know Your Place West of England Project, and has included OS 25 inch to the mile maps, and more detailed OS town plans at 1:500 scale for the counties of Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire. Another benefit of the project is that the British Library have filled gaps in our incomplete holdings of these series, so that our online presentation of these series is now much more complete, including the British Library maps.


New 3D viewer for georeferenced maps

New 3D viewer for our georeferenced maps

We've just launched a new 3D viewer which allows our georeferenced maps to be explored from a bird’s eye perspective. The 3D viewer is accessible from the 3D tab in the footer of our Explore Georeferenced Maps viewer. You can alter your altitude, tilt and orientation to explore any one of our 600 georeferenced map layers draped over a 3D landscape. It is also possible to fade the transparency and view different base maps. The viewer uses Cesium for 3D geospatial visualisation, which is rendered via WebGL. WebGL is widely supported by modern web browsers - you can check if your browser is supported.


Scotland - Land Use Comparison Viewer

Scotland - Land Use Comparison Viewer

This split-screen map viewer allows you to compare land use in Scotland in the 1930s with land use in 2015. It uses the 1930s Land Utilisation Survey maps for Scotland that we made available online last year, and compares them to the 2015 Historic Land-use Assessment (HLA Map) layer from Historic Environment Scotland. It shows how striking the changes have been in the Scottish landscape during the 20th century, particularly due to widespread afforestation and expanding towns and cities. At the more local level, it is also possible to see new reservoirs, new roads, and significant changes to patterns of arable and pasture land.

This is a collaborative project with Historic Environment Scotland to whom we are very grateful for allowing their 2015 Historic Land-use Assessment (HLA Map) layer to be used in this application.


Blaeu Atlas Maior, 1662-5

Blaeu Atlas Maior

The Blaeu Atlas Maior or Cosmographia Blaviana is one of the largest and most splendid of the multi-volume Dutch world atlases. Published in 1662-5, its 594 maps and 3,368 pages of texts collectively presented the state of geographic knowledge of the world in the mid 17th century. Volume VI of the work was devoted to maps of Scotland and Ireland, bringing forward the original mapping of Scotland from the work of Timothy Pont, first published in Blaeu’s Atlas novus of 1654, into their final published form. The Atlas Maior was the most expensive book that could be acquired in the mid-17th century - a lavish and splendid item for display by its powerful and wealthy customers.

We are very grateful to David Rumsey for supporting the scanning and wider dissemination of this atlas.


Soil Survey of Scotland mapping (1950s-1980s)

Soil Survey of Scotland graphic

To commemorate the International Year of Soils 2015, we are delighted to have collaborated with the James Hutton Institute to present online a set of detailed soil maps covering cultivated parts of Scotland. These were researched and published by the Macaulay Land Use Research Institute in Aberdeen, forming a set of strikingly attractive coloured maps categorising and portraying soil type, using Ordnance Survey one-inch to the mile base mapping. Read further information about the Soil Survey, including how the surveying was done and how the maps were prepared.

The Soil Survey of Scotland mapping can be viewed using a clickable map of Scotland and as an ordered list. We have also georeferenced them as a layer, so that they can be viewed as a zoomable overlay on a Bing map or satellite layer or in our Side by side viewer.


Historic Maps Subscription API

Historic Maps Subscription API graphic

Our Historic Maps Subscription API service allows you to incorporate five detailed historic georeferenced map layers in your own website. The layers include coverage of Great Britain at scales of six-inch to the mile or 1:10,560, medium-scale mapping at 1:25,000 and 1:63,360, as well as London at 1:1,056 scale. The layers have been optimised for very quick display and distributed under reliable and fast hosting. The Historic Maps Subscription API conforms with international web-mapping standards, and so the layers are simple to incorporate inside your own web mapping applications with demonstration viewers and code. These layers are available by subscription, and complement our Historic Maps API that we intend will remain free.


Land Utilisation Survey, Scotland, 1931-1935

Land Utilisation Survey graphic

The Land Utilisation Survey was the first systematic and comprehensive depiction of land cover and use in Scotland (1931-1935), under the superintendence of L. Dudley Stamp. The recording of land use was carried out by volunteers, particularly schoolchildren and students, using Ordnance Survey six-inch to the mile field sheets. All land was colour-coded into six main categories and reduced the one-inch to the mile scale for publication. View the maps using a clickable map of Scotland, as a seamless layer on a modern satellite or map base, or as a list of sheets. Read further information about the Land Utilisation Survey.


Ordnance Survey 25 inch England and Wales, 1841-1952

OS 25 inch England and Wales graphic

This series is the most detailed topographic mapping covering England and Wales from the 1840s to the 1950s. The maps are very useful for local history, allowing almost every feature in the landscape to be shown. They provide good detail of all buildings, streets, railways, industrial premises, parkland, farms, woodland, and rivers. This layer currently just covers counties in south-east England, but will expand geographically as scanning continues. Search using a graphic index, or view a list of all sheets.


Admiralty Charts of Scotland, 1795-1963

Admiralty charts graphic

We have added 950 charts covering Scottish coastal waters in the 19th and 20th centuries. These are all our holdings of Admiralty charts of the Scottish coastline and adjacent seas, published over 50 years ago. Admiralty Charts show many coastal features in good detail, and are also useful in predating the work of Ordnance Survey for many northern counties before the 1880s. For many of Scotland’s busier estuaries and ports, there are also regular revisions of charts coming through to the present day - often more revisions than for Ordnance Survey maps, and at different dates. Read further information about the Admiralty charts.

The maps can be viewed using a clickable map and as an ordered list. We have also georeferenced a selection of 200 charts, so that they can be viewed as zoomable overlays on a Bing map or satellite layer or in our Side by side viewer.


Updated map viewers

New map viewers graphic

We have updated all our map viewers, offering a number of improvements to viewing and printing. You may now easily rotate all images by holding down your [Alt] and [Shift] keys while dragging the mouse cursor. Obtaining screen prints is also much more straightforward - choosing the 'Print' option (or Ctrl + P in most web browsers) will result in the current map view extending across your default page for printing or saving what you can see on screen. In the map images viewer we also have a new 'Print PDF' option which creates a default A4 landscape PDF file of your current map view. All map images now load faster, and zooming and panning is more responsive, especially on mobile devices. We have also introduced new improvements to viewing results in the Find By Place, Roy and OS records viewers, dynamically linking the main map and results panels on mouse hover to help select the right map. The new viewers are built upon OpenLayers 3 and are compatible with all current release standards-compliant web browsers.


James Robertson's Maps of Jamaica, 1804

James Robertson's Maps of Jamaica graphic

These maps of Jamaica are the most informative maps of the island in the early 19th century. They show its detailed topography, including the geographic distribution and location of sugar plantations and their owners at the sugar industry's peak, shortly before the abolition of slavery.

James Robertson was born on the island of Yell in Shetland, and emigrated to Jamaica where he owned a sugar plantation and worked as a surveyor. In 1796, Robertson petitioned and was appointed by the Assembly to survey Jamaica, producing a three-sheet map of the whole island at a scale of two miles to the inch (1:126,720), and 3 four-sheet maps of each county (Cornwall, Middlesex and Surrey) at a scale of one-inch to the mile (1:63,360). Robertson was paid the monumental sum of £10,450 for his maps and returned to Great Britain, where he later compiled a map of the north-eastern counties of Scotland (1822).

James Robertson's Maps of Jamaica can be viewed using a clickable map, and a georeferenced overlay, or in a side-by-side viewer (allowing comparison to modern Google or Bing layers), or via individual map sheets.


Upgraded Georeferencer application for viewing and georeferencing early maps of Scotland

Georeferencer application graphic

We have just upgraded our collaborative online Georeferencer application with several new features. These include the ability to view the map side-by-side and zoom and pan, comparing the historic map directly with a modern map or satellite layer or to other maps. You can also try out different transformation options for each georeferenced map based the control points entered already. The Georeferencer application is a collaborative online project, where anyone can view selected early maps from our collection, and help georeference them, adding control points to more accurately position them in the real world. The Georeferencer application includes 1,000 early maps of Scotland, including town plans, county maps, coastal charts, and maps of the whole of Scotland. It complements our main Explore Georeferenced Maps application, where you can view the resulting georeferenced maps.


Ordnance Survey, National Grid maps (Central London), 1940s-1960s

Ordnance Survey National Grid London maps graphic

We are pleased to make available the earliest editions of Ordnance Survey National Grid maps at 1:1,250 scale covering central London. This mapping covers an area of about 20 square miles, made up of 4,292 sheets, each covering 500 x 500 metres on the ground. The maps show nearly all permanent features of over 1 square metre in size, showing excellent detail of commercial and residential buildings, railway stations, docks, factories and parks, as well as house names and numbers. This layer will expand geographically over the next year as we continue to scan more OS National Grid post-War mapping.

The maps can be viewed using a clickable map, as a georeferenced overlay or in a side-by-side viewer (allowing comparison to modern Google or Bing layers), and using an ordered list.


Early maps of Scotland and Edinburgh, 1639-1936

Early maps of Scotland graphic

We have added a further 120 early maps of Scotland and of Edinburgh. This includes the main set of maps of Scotland from the NLS Marischal Collection, named after George Keith, 10th Earl Marischal of Scotland (1692/3 - 1778). They were collected by supporters of the Jacobite cause from exile in France in the 18th and 19th centuries, and acquired by the Library in 1977. The new additions also include a number of detailed maps of Edinburgh in the 19th century, particularly showing the feuing of land, planning new roads and buildings, and infrastructure developments.

The maps can also be viewed in our Find by Place viewer under Maps of Scotland and Other Town Plans.


Ordnance Survey, National Grid maps (Edinburgh environs), 1940s-1960s

Ordnance Survey National Grid maps graphic

We are pleased to make available the earliest editions of Ordnance Survey National Grid maps covering the Edinburgh environs. Toward the end of the Second World War, Ordnance Survey prioritised the mapping of urban areas on new National Grid sheet lines, and at the detailed 1:1,250 scale for urban areas with a population of over 20,000 people. The maps show nearly all detached features of over 1 square metre in size, as well as house numbers. We have focused on Edinburgh initially as part of our collaborative work with the MESH Edinburgh Atlas project, and we plan to extend coverage geographically in the future.

The maps can be viewed using a clickable map, as a georeferenced overlay (allowing comparison to modern Google or Bing layers), and using an ordered list.


British First World War Trench Maps, 1915-1918

British First World War trench maps graphic

We are pleased to make available all our holdings of trench maps of the Western Front (307 maps). Trench maps are a primary source for studying the battlefields of the Western Front, and the location of enemy positions and defences. They record the names that soldiers gave the trenches, as well as the names of nearby farms, villages, woods, and other landmarks. Accurate locations, and the distances and bearings between them were essential for the artillery, and trench maps also illustrate the innovative survey, compilation, and printing technologies that advanced rapidly during the War. Comparing trench maps to each other over time, and to the present day, allows a detailed and fascinating graphic insight into the changing topography of the Western Front.

The maps can be viewed using a clickable map, as georeferenced overlays and using an ordered list. It is also possible to compare the georeferenced maps side-by-side to each other, and compare them to modern satellite images and maps.


Ordnance Survey Six-inch England and Wales, 1842-1952

OS Six-inch England and Wales graphic

This series is the most comprehensive topographic mapping covering all of England and Wales from the 1840s to the 1950s. It was revised for the whole country twice between 1842-1893 and between 1891-1914, and then updated regularly for urban or rapidly changing areas from 1914 to the 1940s. The maps are immensely valuable for local and family history, allowing most features in the landscape to be shown. Search using a graphic index, or view a list of all sheets.


OS One-inch to the mile, Scotland, 2nd edition (Hills), 1885-1903

OS One-Inch Hills edition graphic

This newly added one-inch 2nd edition (Hills), 1885-1903 series complements our existing Ordnance Survey one-inch 2nd edition, 1885-1900 mapping of Scotland. But in contrast, it shows relief as brown hachures - lines following the direction of the slope, with their thickness indicating steepness. During the 19th century, this was Ordnance Survey's preferred method of indicating the height of the ground, printing the Hills edition maps from two separate copper plates. However, it was very labour intensive, and increasingly Ordnance Survey moved to use contours to represent height the 20th century - as seen in the OS Popular edition mapping. We have also georeferenced this Hills edition so it can be viewed as a seamless layer on top of Google satellite imagery or other modern mapping.


New Side by Side Viewer for Exploring Georeferenced Maps

Side by side viewer graphic

Our new Side by Side Viewer allows an easy way of comparing different layers of historical georeferenced mapping on screen at the same time. We now have over 160 layers of georeferenced mapping in our Explore Georeferenced Maps viewer and it is often useful to compare different scales and dates of this mapping on screen at the same time. You can use the Side by Side Viewer to display your choice of any of these layers in each window, and compare them to each other, as well as to modern Google, Bing or Ordnance Survey maps. The Side by Side Viewer is accessible directly from the Explore Georeferenced Maps viewer.


Ordnance Survey Five feet to the mile - London, 1893-1896

OS London Five feet to the mile 1890s graphic

This series is the most detailed mapping of London by Ordnance Survey just over a century ago. The five feet to the mile or 1:1,056 scale covered the capital in 729 sheets, based on a revision and survey of 1891-5. The maps provide excellent detail of the whole urban infrastructure, including residential and industrial premises, schools, asylums, hospitals, parks, canals, docks and railways, and even the interior layout of public buildings, such as cathedrals, churches, and railway stations. We have georeferenced the mapping so it can be viewed as a seamless layer on top of present day maps and satellite images. View a list of all sheets or search using a graphic index.

We are very grateful to David Rumsey for supporting the scanning and georeferencing of this series


Ordnance Survey One-inch Revised New series, England and Wales (1892-1908)

OS New Revised series graphic

This series covered all of England and Wales in 346 sheets, forming a clear and attractive general overview of the landscape from a century ago, based on a national revision of 1893-8. We have included the Outline edition (with relief shown by contour lines), as well as the Hills edition (with relief shown by brown hachures), borrowing in places from the 3rd edition sheets in the 1900s to provide more complete coverage. We have also georeferenced these two editions (Outline, Hills) so they can be compared to present day and other mapping. View a list of all sheets or search using a graphic index.

We are very grateful to David Rumsey for supporting the scanning and georeferencing of this series


New OS County Map Records for England and Wales (1841-1952)

OS map records website graphic

We have added 152,332 records for OS County Maps of England and Wales to our OS sheet records viewer. These are records for the most detailed OS map series covering both rural and urban areas: the OS 25 inch (1:2,500) and OS six-inch to the mile (1:10,560) series. It is now possible to discover through a single interface all the detailed OS paper maps that were published for anywhere in the United Kingdom. This includes all the editions of map sheets at these scales, so you can discover when OS maps were surveyed and published for any particular area.

We are very grateful to EDINA for funding the collection of the OS County map metadata.

Bartholomew half-inch to the mile, Great Britain (1897-1909)

Bartholomew half-inch website graphic

We have added a layer of Bartholomew half-inch to the mile mapping for Great Britain (1897-1909). This includes 29 sheets covering Scotland and 37 sheets covering England and Wales. These sheets have also been mosaicked as a georeferenced overlay. You can also explore these maps through two related applications on our Bartholomew Archive website: the Great Britain time traveller and the Cairngorms layer colour explorer.



Revised Map images website

Map images website graphic

We have updated our maps website design to improve navigation and usability. The two main search methods, Find by Place and Browse by Category, are now available on all pages, and our georeferenced applications are now fully integrated with all online maps content, using a consistent navigational header. We hope that you find these changes useful, and would be grateful for feedback as we continue to develop the website.



1:25,000 maps of Great Britain, 1937-1961

OS 1:25,000 website graphic

The 1:25,000 series provides an excellent regional overview of the 1940s and 1950s landscape, and illustrates features such as woodland, roads, railways, field boundaries, footpaths, settlements and farms. It is twice as detailed in scale as the one-inch to the mile mapping and is the most-recent OS 1:25,000 series that is out-of-copyright. The series is available as individual sheets and a seamless mosaic.



25 inch 2nd and later edition maps of Scotland, 1892-1949

OS 25 inch website graphic

25 inch 2nd and later edition maps of Scotland form the most detailed topographic mapping for all the inhabited regions of Scotland from the 1890s to the 1940s. The series is made up of 17,466 map sheets, and all were revised from 1892-1907. Sheets covering more populated and rapidly changing areas were selectively revised from 1914 to the 1940s. You can zoom into the detail of the OS 25 inch maps using an interactive index map, and search by county, parish and a gazetteer of place names.



Six-inch 2nd and later edition maps of Scotland, 1892-1960

decorative graphic

Six-inch 2nd and later edition maps of Scotland form the most comprehensive, topographic mapping covering all of Scotland from the 1890s. They illustrate a very wide range of natural and man-made features and are excellent for local and family history. The series is made up of 7,486 map sheets. It was revised for the whole country from 1892-1907, and then updated regularly for urban or rapidly changing areas from 1914 to the 1940s. You can zoom into the detail of the OS six-inch maps using an interactive index map, and search by county, parish and a gazetteer of place names.



New georeferenced search application

Geo search web interface

Our new Maps of ScotlandFind by Place viewer provides a significantly improved method of accessing 18,000 of our online maps. A range of both old and modern mapping layers provides the user with a customisable backdrop to selecting areas of interest, and keyword searching is provided by placename and National Grid Reference, alongside browseable gazetteers of counties and their parishes.

The new search interface integrates our previous five separate search applications into a faster and clearer interface. The application uses the open-source Geoserver and Openlayers software. View our geo search help to see which map series are included and for further guidance on using the application.

We have made available these geo search application options:


New e-payments system

Coins design graphic

Our new e-payments system lets you purchase printouts and images of any of our online maps. The system is quick and simple, and it has been integrated with the existing Maps of Scotland website. Just browse to the map you want to purchase, and select the Example order button button. Prompts and helpful notes guide you through the payment process using a credit/debit card or PayPal.

Registered customers can also track the progress of their orders, view previous orders, and contact / address information is saved for easier repeat orders. Bespoke orders or other queries for copies of items not on our website can still be sent to maps@nls.uk.



Map Georeferencer pilot application

Map Georeferencer homepage graphic

The Map Georeferencer pilot application allows you to georeference any of our Early Maps of Scotland and then view them as an overlay in Google Earth. The georeferencing is quick and fun, and you can also:

Further information:



Free application provides historical OS maps for mashups

Photo of phone showing map of Britain

Our new historical map application allows anyone to include historical maps of Great Britain in their own websites. It displays sets of Ordnance Survey mapping relating to Scotland, England and Wales, dating from the 1920s to 1940s.

The free application will also run on many mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPad, or Google Android based phones.

You can use the maps for a range of purposes. They can be:



Air photo mosaics of Scotland, 1944-1950

Black and white photo of Ardrossan from the air

These air photographs provide detailed information on the landscape of post-war Scotland, as well as providing a fascinating portrayal of urban topography and land-use. The aerial photography was flown by the Royal Air Force, primarily in Spitfire and Mosquito fighter aeroplanes, but it was intended for post-war reconstruction and planning. The photographs complement paper mapping, and represent the first widespread use of aerial survey methods by Ordnance Survey.

You can search for OS air photo mosaics using a zoomable map of Scotland and by place-names. They are also available as a Google maps overlay, allowing direct comparison to present-day air photography and mapping.



Ordnance Survey's 25 inch to the mile series (1855-1882)

Map details of buildings, water and streets

The earliest, detailed mapping for all the inhabited regions of Scotland. The Ordnance Survey 25 inch to the mile maps are immensely valuable for local history. They provide good detail of all buildings, streets, railways, industrial premises, parkland, farms, woodland, and rivers. All towns, villages and cultivated rural areas were mapped, comprising over a third of the total land area of Scotland.

The bold style of the maps and their attractive, informative, hand-colouring allow easy interpretation for a wide range of uses.



Second World War geo-referenced military mapping of Belgium, 1942-1944

Belgian map with satellite overlay

These military maps of Belgium provide reconnaissance information of the whole country at scales between 1:250,000 to 1:50,000. They were compiled and published by the British War Office and used by the Allies during the Second World War.

We have seamed and geo-referenced them so that they can be directly compared with modern Google Map and Satellite views.



Satellite image overlays of Bathymetrical Survey Lochs, 1897-1909

Bathymetical chart with satellite overlay

This selection of 33 geo-referenced bathymetrical charts of Scottish lochs allows them to be directly compared with modern Google Maps and Virtual Earth layers. The bathymetrical charts are the most detailed maps showing the depths of these lochs, and they contain useful information too on the surrounding hinterland. We are very grateful to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency for geo-referencing these plans as part of a collaborative project with the Library.



Satellite image overlays of OS town plans, 1847-95

Satellite image overlay detail for George Square, Edinburgh

New geo-referenced satellite image overlays allow historic town plans for Scotland to be directly compared with modern Google Maps and Virtual Earth satellite and map layers. These town plans (surveyed 1847-1895) are the earliest and most detailed comprehensive snapshot of urban Scotland ever published by Ordnance Survey. 1,900 sheets covering 62 towns in Scotland have now been mosaicked and geo-referenced. The maps can also be searched using a zoomable map of Scotland, a modern street gazetteer, and by National Grid Reference.



Great Reform Act Plans and Reports, 1832

Details of Great Reform Act Greenock map

The Great Reform Act Plans and Reports provide detailed maps and related information for 75 towns in Scotland. The plans depict and name many urban features of importance, including major streets, public buildings, industrial premises, docks, canals, and bridges, as well as surrounding farms and villages. Compiled for the purposes of implementing new parliamentary boundaries, their consistent style and scale (of six-inches to the mile), along with their accompanying burgh reports, make them a valuable snapshot of urban Scotland.



Ordnance Survey six-inch maps of Scotland

Details on North Berwick map

Ordnance Survey six-inch maps of Scotland form the earliest comprehensive topographic mapping of Scotland by Ordnance Survey. They illustrate a very wide range of natural and man-made features for the first time. The six-inch to the mile scale is the most detailed that covered the whole of Scotland, covering the country in 2,123 sheets. You can zoom into the detail of the OS six-inch maps using an interactive index map, and search by county, parish and a gazetteer of place names.



Survey of Sutherland Estate farms

Map of Garty, 1772

Around 1772, John Kirk produced detailed volumes of manuscript estate plans for the Sutherland Estates. Kirk's survey of farms in Golspie and Loth parishes included some of the estate's richest arable land. It covered the arable coastal strip from Golspie in the south, through Brora and Dunrobin Castle, to what became Helmsdale fishing village in the north.



Military conquest of Scotland by the Romans

Map of the Antonine Wall near Falkirk, surveyed in 1755

William Roy's Military Antiquities of the Romans in North Britain (1793) is a classic work on the military conquest of Scotland by the Romans. It recorded many newly discovered Roman remains for the first time. As a record of early archaeology Roman sites in Scotland, it is almost unbeatable. Its author, William Roy, is better known for his work on the Military Survey of Scotland (see below), and in founding what became the Ordnance Survey. Roy was a keen antiquarian and man of science, and this splendid volume is a lasting monument to these interests.



Roy Military Survey of Scotland, 1747-1755

Perth detail from the Roy map

The Roy Military Survey of Scotland, known to its contemporaries as the 'Great Map', is a uniquely important historical cartographic document. It provides a uniform graphic snapshot of the entire Scottish mainland at a time when the landscape was beginning an era of rapid change. For many Highland areas, it is the most detailed and informative map that survives for the entire 18th century. For all areas, it is the only standard topographic map prior to the Ordnance Survey mapping in the 19th century.



Regional Maps of Scotland, 1856-1935

Detail from regional map

Several hundred detailed maps covering all of Scotland from 1856 to 1936 have been added to our sets of online series mapping, which will particularly benefit anyone doing family or local history research. Among these latest additions are Ordnance Survey and Bartholomew mapping intended for walking, cycling and touring. Together they provide an excellent overview of the Scottish landscape for the period.

The Ordnance Survey one-inch to the mile maps come in three editions, covering:

We also have Ordnance Survey quarter-inch to the mile maps for 1921-1923. The Bartholomew half-inch to the mile mapping covers 1926-1935.