Maps can quickly reveal information about an area which would require hours of research in books or other documents. For example:
- Was there a windmill in this parish?
- Why is there a sudden bend in this road?
- Is this the site of an old railway station?
- Who were the major landowners in this area?
- What is the underlying geology of my village?
- Which businesses occupied premises in the High Street 20 years ago?
Map collections at Oxfordshire History Centre
Our map collections include a wide range of both published and archival maps:
Our collection includes early printed county maps such as the Ordnance Survey and thematic maps such as the Geological Survey.
Printed published maps extend from the work of the earliest Elizabethan cartographers, whose maps can be more decorative than useful, right through to the authoritative nationwide mapping of the Ordnance Survey which began in the 1790s and is still heavily relied on today.
Published mapping can be categorised as follows:
The best known and most detailed printed mapping, starting in 1808 and extending right up to the current year. Find out more in the Ordance Survey factsheet (pdf format, 244Kb)
The county was the basic unit for regional mapping, from its very beginning in 1579. Find out more in the county maps factsheet (pdf format).
Chiefly focused on the City of Oxford, these have been published since the late 16th century. Find out more in the town plans factsheet (pdf format).
Subject-based maps have been published since the 17th century and thematic maps in our collections include:
- boundary maps, including census enumeration districts (pdf format, 240Kb)
- geological and groundwater maps (pdf format, 217Kb)
- land use and land classification maps (pdf format, 115Kb)
- shopping centre maps (pdf format, 117Kb)
- soil survey maps (pdf format, 62Kb)
- transport maps (pdf format, 320Kb)
Modern thematic maps have generally been catalogued and classified. Names of cartographers and publishers can be found through our online catalogue.
Use the catalogue reference from Heritage Search to order maps for consultation in the Searchroom.
- Bodleian Library Searches can be limited to cartographer, format, scale, date.
- British Library map collections
- British Library online catalogue
- National Library of Scotland maps online
How to access maps
You can consult all these maps at the Oxfordshire History Centre.
Some maps are individually catalogued and can be identified in our online catalogue Heritage Search.
Lists of our holdings are available in the Searchroom. Please check the access advice given under each map category.
Where a printed or electronic facsimile of our original maps is available, you will be asked to use it, unless you have a special need to examine the original.
Can I get a copy of a printed map?
Subject to copyright and condition, most of the printed paper maps in the Oxfordshire History Centre can be photocopied.
You can make self-service printouts from maps in microform or digital format; you can also order high-quality photographic copies. See charges for details.
For copyright restrictions please check the advice given under each map category.
Maps produced between 1838 and 1854, as a result of the 1836 Tithe Commutation Act.
Oxfordshire tithe maps have been digitised – copies of map extracts are available to order on paper or as electronic files. Copies of whole tithe maps are also available as a high-resolution electronic file.
Tithe maps and their accompanying apportionments, listing parcels of land and their owners and tenants, have been digitised in black and white and are searchable online via The Genealogist. Coverage is for the whole of England and Wales, and free access is available at Oxfordshire History Centre.
Download the Tithe Handlist (pdf format, 14Kb) of the holdings of our Tithe Awards and Maps
Read more in the Tithe fact sheet (pdf format, 57Kb)
Maps and ‘awards’ resulting from the consolidation and enclosure of farmland in Oxfordshire, affecting about 54 per cent of the county. Download the Enclosure Handlist (pdf format, 1.1Mb) of the holdings of our Enclosure awards and maps.
Read more in the Enclosure fact sheet (pdf format 14Kb)
Maps, usually manuscript, commissioned by landowners needing plans of their estates and dating from 16th to 20th centuries. Read more in the Estate maps fact sheet (pdf format).
Maps produced in the nationwide valuation of property following the 1909/10 Finance Act. Oxfordshire valuation maps and survey books have been digitised and are available online on our District valuation maps and books page.
Read more in the District valuation fact sheet (pdf format, 24Kb).
Railway and other deposited plans
We hold plans of public undertakings deposited with the Clerk of the Peace.