NLS Historic Maps API: Historical Maps of Great Britain for use in mashups
This seamless historic map can be:
- embedded in your own website
- used for research purposes
- used as a backdrop for your own markers or geographic data
- used to create derivative work (such as OpenStreetMap) from it.
The mapping is based on out-of-copyright Ordnance Survey maps, dating from the 1920s to the 1940s.
View more information on:
- how to display the historic map in your mobile device or phone
- how to embed the historic map in your website
- how to use the map in a mashup
- announcement mailing list for news and updates
- which map series are used
- how the historic map was prepared
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)
The map can be directly opened in a web browser by opening the Internet address: http://nls.tileserver.com/
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:
If you open the address: http://nls.tileserver.com/?q=auto, 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.
- The easiest way of embedding the historical map in your website is to copy < paste this HTML code into your website page. Simple embedding (try: hello.html):
- You can automatically position the historic map to open at a particular place or postal address by appending the name as a "q" parameter - for example: ?q=edinburgh Embedding with a zoom to a place (try: placename.html):
- You can automatically position the historic map to open at particular latitude and longitude coordinates: ?lat=51.5&lng=0&zoom=11. There are many ways of obtaining geographic coordinates. Embedding with a zoom to coordinates (try: coordinates.html):
- The map can also automatically detect the geographic location of the visitor to display the place where you are right now, with ?q=auto Embedding with a zoom to coordinates (try: auto.html):
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.
- Usage with Google Maps API: Example of a separate map available with a separate "Historical" button: google.html Overlay of the Google base maps with changeable transparency: googleoverlay.html
- Usage with OpenLayers: Separate layer in OpenLayers: http://nls.tileserver.com/openlayers.html
- Usage with Leaflet: Separate layer in Leaflet: http://geo.nls.uk/maps/api/leaflet.html
NLSTileUrlOS() together with the relevant parts of the original mapping API - for displaying custom maps. Please always use our
api.js file and the
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 1:1 million, Great Britain, 1933
- Quarter-inch to the mile, Scotland, 1921-1923
- Quarter-inch to the mile, England and Wales, 1919-1921
- One-inch to the mile, Popular edition, Scotland, 1920-1930
- One-inch to the mile, New Popular edition, England and Wales, 1945-1947
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 TileServer.com.
Please email email@example.com for further assistance, or to provide general comments / feedback.