Oxford Digital Library (ODL)

Maps on the Web is a project of the Oxford Digital Library (ODL) that hosts images of approximately 450 of the Bodleian's maps, including many early and rare items. All of the maps selected are out of copyright, and all of the initial photography was undertaken by the Bodleian's Imaging Services Department

Portolan Charts

Portolan charts are maps of coastal areas intended for maritime navigation. They are derived from mariners' observations of compass bearings and estimated distances between given points on the Earth -- typically ports. The term 'portolan' originates from the Italian 'portolano,' meaning 'related to ports or harbours.' During the Age of Exploration, portolan charts were closely guarded secrets, especially among the main European naval powers.

The Bodleian's collection comprises 22 individual portolan charts and 10 portolan atlases. These span the period from the 15th century to 1741, including work by Dutch, English, Italian, Portugese and Spanish mapmakers.

The Todhunter Allen Collection

The Todhunter Allen Collection of maps and county atlases dating from 1573 to 1900 acts as a microcosm of three centuries of British cartography. It was put together early this century by Hugh Todhunter, and later George Allen, and came to Bodley in 1987. The listing phase of the project was completed in 1997, and the online cataloguing onto OLIS finished in June 1999, increasing access to the Collection, which contains several rare or unique editions of atlases.

Ordnance Survey Maps

Members of the university can access OS map data through the Digimap service (see 'Making Maps') and Bodleian readers can view similar digital versions of OS maps on a dedicated PC in the Map Room.

WWI Trench Maps

The Bodleian has approximately 2,500 maps of the Western Front, at scales of 1:10,000, 1:40,000, and 1:80,000. The GSGS published several editions of these maps throughout the war, although most are from late 1915 onwards. The series include both standard and 'secret' versions -- the secret maps showed British trench systems in addition to German ones. These sheets were individually numbered and it was forbidden to take them close to the front lines in case of capture. The 1:10,000 series indicate individual trenches and their names or numbers.

Other map collections in Oxford

The Commonwealth and African Aerial Photograph Archive at Rhodes House holds a part copy of the Ordnance Survey's International Collection. This comprises approximately 1.5 million aerial photographs of countries in Eastern, Sourthern, and Western Africa, as well as parts of Asia and the Americas. These images were taken by the Directorate of Overseas Surveys (DOS) mainly in the 1940s-1970s, to enable them to produce maps at ground scales of 1:30,00 to 1:50,000. Enquiries about this collection should be directed to the archivist (

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