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Physical & Digital Collections

Cartographic resources: Digital & Online Maps

Describes the collection of Cambridge University Library's Map Department, give tips on finding maps, etc., and points to other resources, including the Map Department web pages


Cambridge University Library does not collect digital mapping. However, it does, on behalf of the University, subscribe to the Digimap service which supplies Ordnance Survey and other digital data for non commercial use by Cambridge University staff and students. See below for more information.

Other digital resources available to Cambridge University staff and students (some of which are cartographic) can be found on the e-resources web page. 


Digimap Logo Current staff and students of the University can use Digimap, an online map and data delivery service operated by EDINA at the University of Edinburgh, for the purposes of education and research. Digimap offers a number of data collections, including Ordnance Survey, historical, geological, LiDAR and marine maps and spatial data. Individual registration is required, but the service is free at the point of use.

Create or interrogate a map online by selecting an appropriate base map, adding annotations and customising the content, use measurement and query tools to learn more about any study area. Download the raw spatial data in a wide range of formats for use in local GIS, CAD or image processing software.

Available data includes:

  • Ordnance Survey® Collection Current Ordnance Survey map data. Offers a range of contemporary Ordnance Survey mapping data products. A range of online tools are available to facilitate viewing, interrogation and download of these products. 
  • Historic Digimap. Offers a range of historical Ordnance Survey mapping data products from 1843 to 1996. A range of online tools are available to facilitate viewing, interrogation and download of these products.
  • Geology Digimap. Offers a range of onshore and offshore British Geological Survey mapping data products. A range of online tools are available to facilitate viewing, interrogation and download of these products.
  • Environment Digimap. Offers a range of Land Cover Map data products. A range of online tools are available to facilitate the viewing of these products. 
  • Aerial Digimap. Aerial imagery data at scales ranging from 1:150,000 to 1:500 available for making maps online or for download. Complete coverage of Great Britain is available. 
  • Lidar. Lidar data maps the earth’s surface and is captured by firing rapid laser pulses (thousands of times per second) at the ground surface. By examining the laser energy reflected back from the ground the surface is captured as a dense cloud of 3D points. These points are then converted in to highly detailed terrain models of the surface of the earth and by examining the reflections from both the ground surface and the vegetation canopy it is possible to derive both Digital Terrain Models of the bare earth surface (DTM) and also Digital Surface Models (DSM) that show the vegetation canopy. 
  • Marine. Includes the raster nautical charts derived from the UK Hydrographic Office paper charts and chart panels, and Marine Themes vector data covering all UK waters which can be loaded into Geographic Information Systems.  Marine data is extensively used in offshore engineering projects, management of marine and coastal environments, marine ecology studies, environmental impact assessments and tourism. 
  • ​Global. Provides access to global datasets in cartographic styles and downloadable formats that are useful to you. primary content is OpenStreetMap; also included is data from Natural Earth and Collins Bartholomew. 
  • Society Digimap – 2011 UK census data. Provides a wealth of census and socio-economic data for Great Britain. 
  • Verisk. Digimap’s Verisk Collection (previously known as Geomni) provides access to data from commercial data supplier Verisk. Includes data on the age, structure, characteristics and use, of commercial, public and residential buildings across GB ; land use data across the UK ; detailed, feature-rich mapping database of Greater London. Demonstration on YouTubeBlog post from University of Glasgow Library.
  • AgCensus. Offers access to a time-series database of grid square based data derived from the regular Agricultural Censuses of England, Scotland and Wales.

Each of the collection links above will give access to further information plus tips on using the data, etc.

Keep up to date with what is happening with Digimap by going to the Digimap Blog, or follow Digimap on Twitter or Facebook.

The Digimap YouTube channel is also useful.

See also CULs Digimap web page

Other sources of digital and online maps

Check out the following links as well as the Ordnance Survey tab of this LibGuide

Useful web pages

Department of Earth Sciences Digital Map Library Lots of useful links

University of Reading GIS & Remote Sensing LibGuide page Some of these resources are restricted to Reading University students, but Cambridge University does, for example, have its own subscription to Digimap and Agcensus 

Useful sites

BAAS digital archive British Association for the Advancement of Science Collections on the History of Science: 1830-1970

Cartophilia. High and medium resolution images of English and Welsh  maps from their beginnings to the early 20th Century. Search by county

David Rumsey Map Collection, an impressive online collection of map images. The maps cover all parts of the world. A good way of finding relevant maps on the site is via the MapRank Search  

Diva-GIS. Free computer program for mapping and geographic data analysis

Library of Congress. Lots of scanned images of maps

Map History gateway website. Links to online image sites

Magic. Multi-Agency Geographic Information for the Countryside of Great Britain

National Digital Archive of Datasets (NDAD). Preserves and provides online access to archived digital datasets and documents from UK central government departments. Not all map data but may be of interest

Old Maps Online website is also great (search for a place in the box at the top, move the map around and zoom in and out and thumbnails of maps covering the area shown display on the right hand side)

UK Data Service. UK’s only nationally funded research infrastructure for curating and providing access to social science data

A Vision of Britain Through Time site provides access to historical maps as well as many textual resources

WorldMap from Harvard. Began in 2008 with the aim of lowering barriers for scholars to create, analyze, and share geospatial information

CUL Map Department's web pages

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