Early in the nineteenth century the Ordnance Survey Department began producing series of detailed surveys that mapped much of the British Isles.

British ordnance plans were commonly produced at two scales: 6-inch to the mile and 1-inch to the mile.

Ordnance surveys of England and Wales

British History Online provides access to a selection of early ordnance surveys, including all of the first 6-inch to the mile surveys. Maps at this scale are detailed enough to show roads, buildings, farms, mines, railways and stations. They also show topographic contour lines, providing an accurate understanding of the landscape.

A range of ordnance survey maps can also be viewed or purchased from Old-Maps online.

The Library holds copies of the following ordnance surveys:

  • 1-inch to the mile maps produced by the Ordnance Survey Department provide excellent coverage of most of the British Isles. The Library holds series of ordnance survey maps, published in the 19th and 20th centuries. The Library has fully digitised 123 maps of the earliest 1" to the mile series.
  • 6-inch to the mile maps produced by the Ordnance Survey Department. Our collection of these remarkably detailed maps covers most of England and Wales, published in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

To find and request ordnance survey maps, type “ordnance survey” AND “one-inch” (or six-inch) AND England in the search box and select “Maps” as format. Each series has an index map showing what we hold. To request a map or maps, scroll down the catalogue record, select "In the Library" and then "Request this". Indicate the map sheet number (or letter) in the box provided.

Ordnance surveys of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland has digitised their ordnance survey maps which can be viewed online, along with other historical Scottish maps. Many of these maps have been geo-referenced allowing you to compare a location to how it appears today. 

The Library also holds some ordnance survey maps. To find and request ordnance survey maps of Scotland, type “ordnance survey” AND “one-inch” (or six-inch) AND Scotland in the search box and select “Maps” as format. Each series has an index map showing what we hold. To request a map or maps, scroll down the catalogue record, select "In the Library" and then "Request this". Indicate the map sheet number (or letter) in the box provided.

Ordnance and Townland surveys of Ireland

Irish Ordnance Surveys are available online via Ordnance Survey Ireland. Zoom in on the relevant location and choose the historical series you wish to view from the dropdown menu.

The Library holds some ordnance survey maps for Ireland and Northern Ireland. To find and request ordnance survey maps of Ireland, type “ordnance survey” AND “one-inch” (or six-inch) AND Ireland in the search box and select “Maps” as format. Each series has an index map showing what we hold. The Library also holds the 1:50,000 scale ‘Discovery series’ (1993-).

To request a map or maps, scroll down the catalogue record, select "In the Library" and then "Request this". Indicate the map sheet number (or letter) in the box provided.

The Library also holds Townland maps of Ireland, available on microfiche. These are reproductions of the 6-inch to the mile 1st edition (Dublin, 1833-1846), comprising maps for each of the 32 counties.