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Maps: Printed maps & atlases

A guide to finding and using printed and digital maps.


Geology and Explorers

The maps held in the Library cover nearly all parts of the world, but with a special emphasis on the British Isles and Europe. Most maps are modern (post 1945), the only significant historical material being Ordnance Survey mapping from the early 19th century onwards.

The collection contains both topographic (general purpose) and thematic (special purpose) maps. Ordnance Survey topographic maps of Great Britain at scales of 1:50 000 and 1:25 000 and of Ireland at 1:50 000 are regularly updated. Much of Europe and parts of Africa and the Caribbean are covered at 1:50 000 scale, while elsewhere, best cover is more usually at scales of 1:250 000 or 1:1 000 000. Thematic maps include maps of geology, soils and land cover. Whilst thematic holdings of Great Britain are comprehensive, holdings of the rest of the world are selective and patchy.

Use the catalogue to find out what we have in stock, although some pre-1993 maps may only be listed in the Maps Card Catalogue on the 4th Floor of the Library. For more information about searching for maps on Enterprise, see the Finding printed maps tab.

Ordnance Survey data can be accessed for academic use via Digimap - see the Digital maps & data tab in this guide.

Air photographs

Whiteknights 1991This collection includes both black-and-white, and true and false colour prints. Cover is mostly in the UK. Complete cover of Berkshire is held for 1976, 1981, 1986 and 1991, the last two sets in colour. Some foreign cover is held, notably of Norway, Italy, Morocco and Tunisia. Topcon mirror stereoscopes are available for viewing the photographs stereoscopically.

To consult this collection contact Charlie Carpenter - indicate the geographical area you are interested in and the date.

Note that contemporary aerial photography of Great Britain is available for academic use through Aerial Digimap - see the Digital maps & data tab in this guide for more information.

Field maps

If you want paper maps you can borrow to use for field work or to study at home, the best place to start is the Field map collection on the 4th Floor.  These are folded maps stored in filing cabinets to which you can help yourself and borrow as you would a book.  The majority are British maps, including

  • Ordnance Survey (Landranger and Explorer)
  • Other topographic maps suitable for walking or cycling eg AA, Harvey
  • Road maps
  • Town plans
  • Geology and soil maps

For countries in Europe we will usually have

  • Road maps
  • Regional maps
  • Tourist maps
  • Town plans of main cities
  • For Ireland we also have Ordnance Survey Ireland maps

For other countries we will usually have general road maps and possibly regional tourist maps.


The atlas collection includes world, regional, national and thematic atlases.

General and historical atlases can be found on the 4th Floor at the Call Numbers 911 and 912 in the relevant sequence depending on size. Those which have the Call Number of  'Oversize MF' are on the 3rd Floor.  A few can also be found in the Map Reference section on the 4th Floor.

Thematic atlases are kept with other material on the same subject.

A selection of online atlases and collections of maps can be found in the World atlases and the Regional & country atlases sections of the Websites tab.


Gazetteers are lists of geographical features, usually place names, political or administrative divisions and physical features. Most gazetteers are on the 4th Floor.

Freely available online gazetteers are listed in the Gazetteers section of the Websites tab.

Search the Enterprise catalogue

Search Enterprise to find atlases and gazetteers:

  • Atlases - include the word 'atlases' or refine by 'Atlas'
  • Gazetteers - include the word 'gazetteers'