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.
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]".
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.
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.
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?
The main Geological Survey map series from 1835. Earlier sheets issued as full sheets, later sheets in quarter sheet form.
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.
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.
A short history of the Geological Survey of England and Wales.
A timeline of the Geological Survey of England and Wales.
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.
A small number of horizontal sections were published between 1868–1880.
A small number of vertical sections were published covering the main Scottish Coalfields.
A short history of the Geological Survey of Scotland.
A timeline of the Geological Survey of Scotland.
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.
A small number of Drift sheets were published during the period, mostly around the main cities, Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Belfast and Londonderry.
A few maps were published at six inches to one mile. They have been included for completeness.
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.
A newer series of horizontal sections on the scale of six inches to one mile issued between 1860 and 1894.
A few miscellaneous hand-coloured sheets were issued, such as for the Ovoca mine map in Wicklow.
A short history of the Geological Survey of Ireland.
A timeline of the Geological Survey of Ireland.