NLS Historic Maps API: Historical Maps of Great Britain for use in mashups

This seamless historic map can be:

The mapping is based on out-of-copyright Ordnance Survey maps, dating from the 1920s to the 1940s.

View more information on:

View our Historic Maps Subscription API for details of other map layers available by subscription

How to display the historic map in your mobile device or phone (including the Apple iPhone, iPad or Android mobile)

Historic map displayed on an iPhone

The map can be directly opened in a web browser by opening the Internet address:

The map is ready for natural zooming and panning with finger pinching and dragging.

Instead of typing the address you can also point your mobile's camera to this QR Code:

How to install a QR Scanner on an iPhone

iPhone mobile tag barcode reader

If you open the address:, your mobile will detect your current position. The map display will zoom to the current location where you are.

You can also create an icon for this historic map in an iPhone. Press "+" and then "Add to Home screen" and this historic map will be instantly available, just like other standard iPhone applications.

How to embed the historic map in your website

How to use the map in a mashup

The historic map can be used as a background map for your own data. You can place markers on top of it, or implement any functionality you want. We have prepared a simple to use JavaScript API to access to map from the popular APIs like Google Maps API, Microsoft Bing SDK or open-source OpenLayers or KHTML. To use our map in your mashups based on these tools you should include our API in your webpage:

<html> <head> ... <script type="text/javascript" src=""></script> ... <script> ...

The NLS Maps API exports a public function NLSTileUrlOS() for accessing the map tiles for the Ordnance Survey map from 1920-1947: We have prepared simple examples of use of our API - which you can study and copy<paste into your mashups.

You can look at the JavaScript code of those examples in your web browser (View->Source Code), it demonstrates usage of the NLS Maps API's function NLSTileUrlOS() together with the relevant parts of the original mapping API - for displaying custom maps. Please always use our api.js file and the NLSTileUrlOS() function.

Direct access to the tiles via the URL is not recommended - please use our JavaScript API if possible. The location of the tiles is subject to change in future and the JavaScript API will reflect this change and provide basic load balancing. Use of our online service or tiles in commercial websites or applications (iPhone apps, ..) must be confirmed from our side! Please contact us at

If you want to help us and provide an alternative mirror of our map tiles please contact us. Other forms of cooperation are welcome as well. If you use our maps in an interesting application, please let us know.

Announcement Mailing List for news and updates

If you use the code in your website, please sign up to our announcement mailing list. This is a low-volume mailing list, only with announcements regarding any new features or API changes. Your email address is not public and you will not receive spam.

Join the announcements group to receive important updates.

Licence and terms of use

Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence icon

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can also read the full legal code of the licence.

The map is provided as an online service under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported Licence. You can embed the map in your own website, display your own markers or mapping data on top of it, use it for research purposes, or create derivative work from it.

The only condition is that you must display an attribution to the National Library of Scotland, together with a link to our website, whenever our map is used. If you create derivative work, the documentation of your work must contain this attribution.

The primary intention behind creating this map service is to promote the use of historical maps in online mashups.

We are following the OpenGIS WMTS REST standard. The tiles are compatible with other popular online maps, such as the Google Maps API, Bing Maps SDK or OpenStreetMap, and are in the Spherical Mercator projection.

The service is normally available 24 hours a day, but the National Library of Scotland cannot be held liable if the site is unavailable at any time, for any period, for any reason.

Which map series are used

We have chosen recent out-of-copyright Ordnance Survey map series that we have complete coverage of. We plan to add more map series to improve the user experience while zooming.

At present the seamless historical map is composed of map sheets from these Ordnance Survey map series:

How the seamless map was prepared

We have scanned paper map sheets of out-of-copyright Ordnance Survey maps. All the individual map sheets were cropped to remove their margins and then georeferenced in the OSGB coordinate system. They were then combined together to create one zoomable seamless map for Scotland, England and Wales. We intend to add Ireland in the future as well. The tiles were prepared with a customized version of the MapTiler application and the map was rendered on the Amazon EC2 computer cluster by Klokan Technologies GmbH. The tiles are hosted at

Provided by the National Library of Scotland and Klokan Technologies GmbH.

Please email for further assistance, or to provide general comments / feedback.