Discovering Maps with the National Library of Scotland

The National Library of Scotland's Laragh Quinney tells us about using NLS Maps online.

Submitted by SarahManavis on 10-07-2017 11:39:50

I am lucky enough to work in the Maps Reading Room at the National Library of Scotland, discovering and helping make available the wonderful map collection of around 2 million maps. The collection includes: atlases; individual map sheets; maps on slides and microfiche; modern digital mapping; and reference books and journals. From unique manuscripts to modern digital mapping, from the first known map of Scotland to world atlases, star charts to town plans, the collection is diverse and wide ranging.

The Library is keen to make the collection available to as wide an audience as possible. Around 200,000 maps from the Library’s collection can now be viewed on our maps website.


On our website you can discover maps of Scotland, and of Scottish towns and counties. You can view detailed Ordnance Survey mapping at a range of scales, or browse charts of the Scottish coasts. Further afield, view First World War trench maps, or a selection of world atlases, as well as many other types of mapping.

There are several ways to explore the maps website. You can browse the categories in the left-hand menu to view particular types of maps. Alternatively our Find by Place search allows you to view all the available maps that cover a particular location. Type in a placename, and then use the drop-down menus to select the type of maps you would like to find.


Our Georeferenced Maps search does not include all the digitised maps, but allows you to overlay historical maps on a backdrop of modern mapping or satellite imagery. This is great for detailed mapping, originally published on multiple sheets. The Georeferenced viewer allows you to pan across the image, without worrying about sheet boundaries. You can use the blue slider to make the historical maps transparent, allowing you to move easily from past to present. You can also view different dates of mapping side by side, allowing easy comparison of our changing world. Or click on “spy” to create a magical spyglass of historical mapping.

Rumour has it that people have lost days to the joy of exploring our maps website and I hope you will enjoy discovering the world, past and present, at 


Log in or register to add comment