Map Finder - with Outlines - Help

You can use this application to search and view all of our online maps. This viewer complements our Explore Georeferenced Maps application which allows a selection of seamless georeferenced mosaics to be viewed.

Watch a Help video on the Map Finder viewer.

Main search process

Map Finder with Outlines interface with instructions
Map Finder with Outlines interface with instructions
  1. Choose the series / map category that you would like to search from the left-hand list. These are ordered roughly by date and from more detailed to less detailed maps.
  2. Zoom in on your area of interest and click on the map to view the sheet that covers this area.
  3. The sheet that you have selected is highlighted in blue, and a brief thumbnail image and record of it appears in the right-hand panel. Select this thumbnail image to view a zoomable image or further information about the map sheet.

As you zoom or pan the main map, the series lists in the left-hand panel update to show just those that cover the current map view.

You can search all the maps in the viewer, all Ordnance Survey maps, or all non-Ordnance Survey maps by selecting the 1. Select a category: 'Multiple categories / group search' option. Click on the map to return all maps covering this point ordered roughly by date and scale. Bounding boxes of maps are only shown of the results.

All of our online maps are included in this application.

Map Finder - with Marker Pin

The Map Finder - with Marker Pin alternative search interface can be selected in the header by clicking on the with Marker Pin link. This viewer allows all of our maps to be searched by placing a marker pin on your point of interest.

Map Finder- with Marker Pin interface with instructions
Map Finder- with Marker Pin interface with instructions
  1. Move the marker to your point of interest. Just click on the map to move the marker there. You can also search by placenames (upper left), and the marker and map will locate to your chosen placename.
  2. (Optionally) filter the maps by date range, map type, keyword or scale.
  3. The maps covering the marker location appear in the Results on the right. Click on the map image thumbnails to view the maps.

You can also read more detailed help.

Multiple categories / Group search

It is possible to search for everything we have online covering a location, as well as groups of maps. To do this, under the 1.Select a category drop-down list, scroll down to choose 'Multiple categories / group search'. Bounding boxes are only shown of the results. Click on the map to return all maps covering this point - they are ordered roughly by date and scale. It is also possible to search for all Ordnance Survey maps, all non-Ordnance Survey maps and all coastal charts by selecting these options in the 2. Select a map / map series: drop-down list.

Gazetteer, National Grid Reference, and Counties/Parishes for searching

The Gazetteer at the top of the map search panel allows you to locate your area on the map using modern place names from Nominatim, using OpenStreetMap names, as well as the Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland (PDF, 135KB), developed by Bruce M. Gittings, University of Edinburgh, with funding from the Scottish Government. The OSM Nominatim gazetteer is stronger for larger settlements and street names, as well as for its global coverage, whilst the Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland is particularly strong for smaller rural features in Scotland, such as farms and hamlets, mountains, hills, rivers, streams, and lochs. The two gazetteers are searched collectively using the OSMNames technology. It is also possible to search by British National Grid Reference - 2, 4, 6, 8, or 10 figures (ie. 'SE12', 'NT1234', 'TQ123456', 'SD12345678', 'SD1234567890'). You can also search using numeric Grid References as Eastings and Northings (ie. '123456,123456'). Further down, drop-down boxes allow counties and parishes (based on their names and boundaries in the 1940s) to be searched. In all cases, the map will then position to the place, National Grid Reference, county or parish that has been selected. We gratefully acknowledge OpenStreetMap, and Bruce M. Gittings, University of Edinburgh for allowing us to use these gazetteers, and the Vision of Britain project for allowing us to use these county and parish boundaries.

Background map

By default, the background map shows a modern ESRI World Topographic layer. Select the drop-down list in the upper-centre of the map panel to choose Bing road, satellite or hybrid layers, an ESRI ArcGIS satellite layer, a MapTiler Basic Topo layer, 1920s mapping from the NLS Historic Maps API, OpenStreetMap, or Ordnance Survey Opendata as background maps.

Change background layer graphic


Hold the [Alt] and [Shift] keys down, and drag with your cursor, or pinch with two fingers on a touch screen to rotate the map. Click/tap on the blue arrow to the upper right, or refresh the page to return to the default rotation.

Filter date range of map sheets

Filter date range graphic

Near the bottom of the left-hand side panel, for some of our largest layers, you can narrow the date range of the displayed and returned maps by adjusting a date range slider.

Zoom to selected map extents

Near the bottom of the left-hand side panel, you can choose whether the viewer will automatically adjust the view to the extents of the sheets you have clicked on. By default this is on, but it can be turned off.

Show my location? / Geolocation

You can tick the Show my location? option in the left-hand panel, and the approximate location of your device, with a radius around it, will appear as a blue dot with a circle around it on the map if you choose to share this data with the application. This uses the W3C Geolocation API specification which provides scripted access to geographical location information associated with the user’s device, by asking the user for permission to share their location, enabling the association of the user’s IP address with the detected location.

In the lower-right of the map, the location of your mouse position is shown as a British National Grid Reference, as British National Grid Eastings and Northings, and as longitude and latitude, both in decimal and degrees, minutes and seconds forms.

Linking to the viewer

The URL in your web browser address bar changes dynamically as you zoom and pan the map, and when you alter visible map layers and overlays. You may copy or bookmark the URL in your web browser address bar to save the current viewer location, zoom level, map layers and/or point you have clicked on.


This application uses GeoServer and OpenLayers, and was originally customised for the National Library of Scotland by Klokan Technologies.

We have released the code behind this viewer on Github for onward use. We hope that other libraries, archives and institutions may benefit from the code in making available their geographical collections.

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