National Library of Scotland and MapTiler bring you a vast database of historic maps of Great Britain converted to seamless digital form, perfect for online browsing on your desktop or mobile device. These maps can be used for many applications in research, education, or any other field. This page gives a detailed overview of how you can implement the NLS maps for your use case. The whole mapping is based on out-of-copyright Ordnance Survey maps, dating from the 1920s to the 1940s.
There are various applications for the NLS maps, such as:
- embedding the maps in your own website
- using the maps for your research purposes
- using the maps as a background for your own markers or geographical data
- using the maps to create derivative work
Starting from April 1st, 2022, all maps are hosted in MapTiler Cloud.
To access the maps, you should create a user account, only then you will be able to view the maps and implement them in your projects.
The MapTiler Cloud hosting allows a number of improvements to the service, including the ability to monitor your own tile usage, improved documentation, and use of related maps and services. MapTiler Cloud brings (among others) a new ‘free’ tier for all non-commercial subscribers using 100,000 tile requests per month or less. Commercial users or those using more than 100,000 tile requests per month will pay according to their usage level. See the pricing overview on the MapTiler website.
MapTiler Cloud provides access not only to all NLS historic maps but also to all standard MapTiler maps with worldwide coverage. Check the previews at MapTiler Cloud - Tiles, all this with a single subscription.
What account is right for you
If you use the NLS historic maps commercially or you expect traffic higher than 100,000 map tile requests per month, go to the account settings section of your MapTiler Cloud account and subscribe to one of the commercial plans: FLEX or UNLIMITED. For higher volume traffic, please contact MapTiler directly to get the CUSTOM plan.
Go to MapTiler Cloud - Tiles and find and open the map you need and then copy and paste the relevant URL into your website or application.
How to display the historic map on your mobile device or tablet
In order to view any map on your mobile phone or tablet, you shall download the MapTiler Mobile App and make it work on your device. In order for the app to load all layers properly, you need to connect it to your MapTiler Cloud account, which you should set up prior to the installation of the mobile app. The maps are ready for natural zooming and panning with finger pinching and dragging. In case you want to know more about the MapTiler Mobile platform, you can check the documentation portal.
How to embed the historic map in your website
The easiest way of embedding the historical map in your website is to use an iFrame. It is a tool simple to use and you can do some modifications to it as well. Just remember, you are going to need a MapTiler Cloud API key, which is accessible in the MapTiler Cloud administration.
Feel free to try the example below:
How to embed the historic map in a mashup
United Kingdom road map in MapTiler Cloud (down in the UK section).
To use raster tiles with TileJSON or XYZ:
With MapTiler Cloud you can create a custom mashup online while using custom and publicly available data sources. Check out this tutorial and learn how to edit your map style and add new custom datasets on top of it.
Use of our online service or tiles in commercial websites or applications (iPhone apps, ..) must be confirmed from our side! Please contact us at email@example.com.
If you want to help us and provide an alternative mirror for 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 on your website, please sign up for 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 license.
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.
Before using the service, please read carefully the MapTiler Cloud Terms & Conditions.
What maps did we use?
We have chosen the 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
How did we prepare the maps?
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 Engine application and the map was rendered on the Amazon EC2 computer cluster by MapTiler AG. The tiles are hosted at MapTiler Cloud.