Historical maps of the Geological Survey of Great Britain and Ireland

England and Wales Old Series. Sheet 83 [Lincoln, Market Rasen, Horncastle, Gainsborough.] Solid 1883.

For the period covered by this site, (1835–1905) the British Geological Survey was known by its former name, the Geological Survey of Great Britain and Ireland, and its remit covered the whole of the British Isles.

This conveniently coincides with the period when the entire mapping output at the basic scale of 1:63 360 or one inch to one mile was produced as engraved sheets that were then hand-coloured, prior to the widespread introduction of colour printing c.1900.

On this site will be found all the maps and sections that were produced in hand-coloured form. While the formal printed editions of most maps were few, there were frequent minor changes to the colouring scheme.

Some of the better documented changes can be found in the last section: Index to colours used on geological maps. Where possible, all copies of the same map have been scanned to allow the researcher to make full comparisons.

Terms of use

These historical maps are delivered under the Open Government Licence, subject to the following acknowledgement accompanying the reproduced BGS materials: "Contains British Geological Survey materials © NERC [year]".

Extract from a horizontal sectionAbout this site

The focus of this site is chiefly the 1:63 360 scale maps of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland and the horizontal/vertical sections for the period when the Survey was formerly known as the Geological Survey of Great Britain and Ireland.

1003601Index to colours used on geological maps

Charts to indicate the colours used for hand-colouring the different strata on the maps and sections. It is interesting to view the changes over time.

Newman's Inferior OoliteThe origins of systematic geological mapping in Britain

An insight into the origin and early practice of systematic geological mapping by the Geological Survey; the application of hand-colouring; why the constant need for revision?

Browse maps, sections and histories

England and Wales

1003114 Geological Survey of England and Wales 1:63 360 geological map series [Old Series]

The main Geological Survey map series from 1835. Earlier sheets issued as full sheets, later sheets in quarter sheet form.

1000777 Geological Survey of England and Wales horizontal sections

Sections were the first attempt by the Survey to indicate 'the arrangement of rocks beneath the surface'. Undertaken on the scale of six inches to the mile they were issued with a small explanatory pamphlet.

Geological Survey of England and Wales vertical sections

Vertical sections were drawn to illustrate the succession of strata in the coalfields. They were usually drawn on a vertical scale of 40 feet to one inch.

Extract of an early one-inch hand-coloured map covering Swindon History

A short history of the Geological Survey of England and Wales.

timeline Timeline

A timeline of the Geological Survey of England and Wales.

Scotland

1002915 Geological Survey of Scotland 1:63 360 geological map series

The main Geological Survey map series for Scotland. Surveying in Scotland began in the 1850s, much later than in England and Wales. Sheet 32, the first sheet published was issued in 1858.

1003471 Geological Survey of Scotland, horizontal sections

A small number of horizontal sections were published between 1868–1880.

1003642 Geological Survey of Scotland vertical sections

A small number of vertical sections were published covering the main Scottish Coalfields.

Extract from sheet 32 Edinburgh. History

A short history of the Geological Survey of Scotland.

timeline Timeline

A timeline of the Geological Survey of Scotland.

Ireland

Geological Survey of Ireland 1:63 360 geological map series

The main Geological Survey map series for Ireland. There were 205 map sheets in the series, and many sheets were issued in more than one edition. Sheets were issued in Solid or Solid with Drift editions.

1002546 Geological Survey of Ireland 1:63 360 geological map drift series

A small number of Drift sheets were published during the period, mostly around the main cities, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Belfast and Londonderry.

1002270 Geological Survey of Ireland 1:10 560 geological map series

A few maps were published at six inches to one mile. They have been included for completeness.

1002269 Geological Survey of Ireland longitudinal sections, old series

A set of four horizontal sections across the whole of Ireland. They cover a distance of one hundred and thirty miles and had been surveyed on the ground by Henry De la Beche, Thomas Oldham and Warrington W. Smyth.

1002243 Geological Survey of Ireland longitudinal sections, new series

A newer series of horizontal sections on the scale of six inches to one mile issued between 1860 and 1894.

1002279 Geological Survey of Ireland. Miscellaneous sheets

A few miscellaneous hand-coloured sheets were issued, such as for the Ovoca mine map in Wicklow.

Extract from Geological Survey of Ireland Sheet 8. Ballycastle. August 1887. History

A short history of the Geological Survey of Ireland.

timeline Timeline

A timeline of the Geological Survey of Ireland.