Chronology of Cartography

Page last modified 6/9/2022


Home Page


List of useful cartographic resources � see also other pages on this site e.g. earthquakes, railways, weather, for more map URLs

Historical/changes - worldwide

Geacron, historical world map since 3000 BCE,

Historical Atlas of the 20th Century, social economic etc maps,

Timelapse Google Earth animated,

World (various areas) old maps free to view,

World Maps, various, historic,

Historical/changes - UK

Historic England aerial photos,

Britain from above (and some other countries) early aerial photos,

National Map Library of Scotland � town maps,

National Map Library of Scotland excellent source of old maps of UK,

World War Two 1-inch maps of England,


Energy infrastructure Global,,O,P,S,T,W

Gas supply, UK,

Infrastucture map, global (click on key symbol, RHS),

Mapping Tools

Grid Reference / Lat-Long Finder,

Grid Ref Finder, UK,|Tamworth|1,SU8474768094|Point_s_B|1,SK1795005648|Point_s_C|1

Postcode finder,

Trig Points UK, search for,

UK grid etc locations,


Bing Maps, worldwide modern street map,

Cartograms, world by sociodemographic,economic etc data,

City Maps,, wide range of world maps, cartograms,

Land Heights, global map,

LIDAR Finder,

LIDAR map of UK,

Mapco (London, UK, Australia and elsewhere),

Mapping tools, e.g. draw a circle,

Mapquest, worldwide modern street map,

Michelin Maps, worldwide modern street map,

NASA global environmental, demographic etc maps,

NASA global environmental maps,

Open Street Map, worldwide modern street map,

Ordnance Survey free outline maps UK, Europe,

Outline maps world, by country, region, continent,, also,

Sabre Maps, modern and historic,

Streetmap (modern UK road map),

Soviet maps (most of Eurasia), ca. 1960,

Texas (University of), huge map collection,

Vision of Britain (old maps, demographic data)


Other miscellaneous �different� maps.


5/2007, Google Streetview was launched.

2006, The UK Ordnance Survey finally dropped a policy instituted by Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin in 1927 that the OS maps should not show any defence-related infrastructure. To avoid �voids on the map�, natural features like contour lines and streams were still marked in. However there were still strange blank areas, that could easily be seen to be built on by observers. Finally the easy access to open source viewing online caused the OS to revoke this policy.

16/11/2005, The western world�s oldest map, dated to around 500 BCE, was discovered at an archaeological dig in southern Italy. The Soleto Map showed Apulia, and was on a small piece of terracotta vase.

28/8/1996, Phyllis Pearce, who pioneered the modern London A-Z, died.

1989, The Ordnance Survey began using a computerised system for updating their maps.

1936, Phyllis Pearsall published the first London A-Z. She has spent 1935 walking 3,000 miles around London remapping it after being misditrected by the then latest available map, which had been published in 1918.

25/9/1906, Phyllis Pearsall, who pioneered the modern London A-Z in 1936, was born.

1903, Charles Booth (born in Liverpool, 1840) completed the last of his famous socio-economic maps of London (begun 1890).

18/6/1898, Karl Gumbel, publisher of the first geological map of Bavaria in 1858, died (born 11/2/1823).

29/3/1893, John Bartholomew, Scottish cartographer, died in London (born in Edinburgh 25/12/1831).

20/3/1889, Franz Hauer, geologist, who made the first geological map of Austro-Hungary in 1871, died (born 30/1/1822).

17/2/1884, Heinrich Berghaus, German geographer, died in Stettin (born in Kleve 3/5/1797).

22/9/1878, Sir Richard Griffith, who prepared several geological maps of Ireland (1st, 1815), died (born 20/9/1784).

10/8/1875, Karl Andree, German cartographer and geographer, died in Wildungen (born 20/10/1808 in Brunswick).

14/7/1875, Wilhelm Dufour, Swiss General who mapped Geneva at 1:25,000 and went on to complete a survey of all of Switzerland at 1:100,000 between 1842 and 1865, died (born 15/9/1787).

12/7/1872, Arnold Escher, Swiss geologist, died (born 8/6/1807). In 1852-53 he produced the first detailed geological map of Switzerland.

1871, First edition of Franz Hauer�s Geological Map of Austro-Hungary was punlished, covering Bosnia and Montenegro.

1866, Kim Chong Ho presented his detailed map of Korea to the Korean Regent. For his troubles he was thrown into prison for revealing information on the defence and security of the realm, where he soon died.

1/12/1866, Sir George Everest, British surveyor of India, died (born 4/7/1790).

1858, Karl Gumbel produced the first geological map of Bavaria.

29/11/1856, Frederick Beechey, English explorer and cartographer, died (born in London 17/2/1796).

24/10/1856, Pieter Melvill van Carnbee, Dutch cartographer of the East Indies, died (born 20/5/1816).

9/10/1852, Thomas Colby, director of the Ordnance Survey, who surveyed Ireland, died (born 1/9/1784)

14/3/1848, Adrian Balbi, Italian geographer, died 14/3/1848 in Padua (born in Venice 25/4/1782).

18/10/1845, Jacques Cassini died (born 30/6/1748). He completed his father�s map of France (published 1793), despite difficulties caused by the French Revolution.

15/4/1840, Thomas Drummond, who assisted in the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, died.

1837, The geological survey of Denmark was completed (begun 1835).

25/12/1831, John Bartholomew, Scottish cartographer, was born in Edinburgh (died in London 29/3/1893).

1826, German geologist Christian Leopold (born 25/4/1774) produced the first geological map of Germany.

1825, The French Corps Royal des Mines started fieldwork on the Carte Geological de France, which became the first national geological survey.

1823, The first geological survey of North Carolina was completed by Denison Olmstead.

11/2/1823, Karl Gumbel, publisher of the first geological map of Bavaria in 1858, was born (died 18/6/1898).

30/1/1822, Franz Hauer, geologist, who made the first geological map of Austro-Hungary in 1871, was born (died 20/3/1889).

20/5/1816, Pieter Melvill van Carnbee, Dutch cartographer of the East Indies, was born (died 24/10/1856).

1815, Sir Richard Griffith prepared the first geological map of Ireland. This map was improved by him in 1835, 1839, and 1854. He also assisted, from 1825, in the Ordnance Survey of Ireland, preparing a comprehensive boundary map of civil districts and boundary markers.

1812,The Great Trignometrical Survey of India, a project conceived in 1799, actually began. The British-produced maps were somewhat colonial in that, for example,the 1842 �Calcutta� map showed banks and police stations, but not temples or mosques.

1811, Georges Cuvier and Alexandre Brogniart published a geological map of the Paris region.

1809, William Maclure published the first geological map of the eastern coast of the United States.

20/10/1808, Karl Andree, German cartographer and geographer, was born in Brunswick (died 10/8/1875 in Wildungen).

8/6/1807, Arnold Escher, Swiss geologist, was born (died 12/7/1872). In 1852-53 he produced the first detailed geological map of Switzerland.


Start of the British Ordnance Survey, 1747-1858

1858, The Ordnance Survey chose the scale of 1:2,500 for mapping England and Wales.

1841, The UK passed the Ordnance Survey Act, formally establishing the agency.

1824, The Ordnance Survey began mapping Ireland, under the leadership of Major General Thomas F Colby, but ran into a major problem. Persistent mists,which unlike in Britain did not clear by mid-morning. Thomas Drummond solved the problem with a �pea-light�, a pellet of lime (calcium oxide) which burnt with an intense light that could be seen at a long distance through fog or drizzle. This gave rise to the term �limelight�. The triangulation began on the shores of Lough Foyle, which was close enough to Scotland to facilitate a continuation of the triangulation from there.

1801, The first of the 1-inch to 1-mile Ordnance Survey maps of Britain were issued, starting with the county of Kent.

21/6/1791, The Ordnance Survey, Britain�s mapping service, was created. See 1841. On this day a payment of �373, 14 shillings was made to Jesse Ramsden for the construction of a �great theodolite�, 3 feet in diameter and weighing 200 pounds (90 kilogrammes) for the purpose of making precise military maps of Britain. The need for this had been foreseen in 1763 by William Roy, amidst fears of invasion from France and a lack of reliable maps for the military. In 1765 William Roy (died 1790) was appointed to survey all of Britain�s coastal areas. By 1784 UK-France relations had improved and cross-Channel efforts were being made to establish the longitude and latitude of Greenwich and Paris. In 1800 the first cartographical unit of the British Army, the Corps of Royal Military Draughtsmen, was formed, based at the Tower of London.

1784, The baseline of first trigonometrical survey of England was laid down on Hounslow Heath, Middlesex.

1747, Following the Jacobite Rebellions in Scotland of 1745, the British Government saw the need for an accurate map of the whole of Scotland, not just of the great castles fortresses and estates as existed then. Under the leadership of Lieutenant-Colonel David Watson, General William Roy began a survey of all Scotland. This was completed in 1755, at a scale of 1000 yards to an inch (1:36,000).


3/5/1797, Heinrich Berghaus, German geographer, was born in Kleve (died in Stettin 17/2/1884).

17/2/1796, Frederick Beechey, English explorer and cartographer, was born in London (died 29/11/1856).

1793, William Smith, born Churchill, England, 23/3/1769, published the first large-scale geological map of England.

20/9/1784, Sir Richard Griffith, who prepared several geological maps of Ireland (1st, 1815), was born (died 22/9/1878).

4/9/1784, Cesar Cassini died (born 17/6/1714). In 1744 he began surveying for a map of France.

1/9/1784, Thomas Colby, director of the Ordnance Survey, who surveyed Ireland, was born (died 9/10/1852)

1783, The first map of the USA as a new nation was produced by Abel Buell.

25/4/1782, Adrian Balbi, Italian geographer, was born in Venice (died 14/3/1848 in Padua).

1779, A systematic triangulation survey of Norway was begun.

27/1/1773, Death of Philippe Buache, cartographer who invented contour lines on maps.

1766, German physicist Johan Carl Wilcke (born Mecklenburg 6/9/1732) produced the first charts of magnetic declination.

30/6/1748, Jacques Cassini was born (died 18/101845). He completed his father�s map of France (published 1793), despite difficulties caused by the French Revolution.

1746, Jean Etienne Guettard drew the first geological map of France.

1744, Cesar Francois Cassini (born 17/6/1714 in Thury, France) directed the first triangulation survey of France. This wasthe first map produced on modern principles.

1743, Christopher Packe produced A new philosophical chart of east Kent; the first geological map.

1733, France began a major cartographical survey of the whole country, from which a national series of maps, 78 sheets, was produced in 1745.

17/6/1714, Cesar Cassini was born (died 4/9/1784). In 1744 he began surveying for a map of France.

2/2/1712, Martin Lister, pioneer of geological mapping, died.

16/1/1710, Jean Chazelles, French hydrographer, died (born 24/7/1657). He surveyed the French coast.

1707, Jesuit missionaries produced an accurate map of China.

1700, Edmund Halley published magnetic charts ofthe Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, showing lines of equal magnetic variation.

11/7/1697, Jean Anville, French cartographer, was born in Paris (died 1781).

1675, English mapmaker John Ogilby produced Britannia, the first road map of Britain showing rivers, bridges and towns.

24/7/1657, Jean Chazelles, French hydrographer, was born (died 16/1/1710). He surveyed the French coast.

1617, Use of trigonometric triangulation for cartography was developed by Willebrod Snellius.

28/6/1598, Abraham Ortelius, cartographer, died aged 72.

5/12/1594, Gerard Mercator, Flemish geographer and cartographer, died in Duisberg, aged 82. He projected the world map onto a flat surface using lines of longitude and latitude.

20/5/1570, Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius produced the first modern-style atlas, entitled �Theatre of the World�.

1568, Mercator invented the map projection that bears his name.

1563, Mercator produced the first detailed map of Lorraine.

1551, The theodolite (surveying telescope) was invented by Leonard Digges. The invention was only publicised by his son, Thomas, in 1571.

1550, The first street map of London was produced.

1545, Geraldus Mercator stated that the Earth had a Magnetic Pole.

1541, The Spanish made the first accurate map of California, determining that it was a peninsula and not an island as had been previously supposed.

1524, The first textbook on theoretical Geography, Cosmographia, was produced by Peter Bennewitz, German professor of mathematics.

1515, The first globe to show the Americas was constructed, by Johannes Sehoner (born 16/1/1477 in Karlstadt, Germany).

1513, Waldseemuller produced a world atlas with 200 maps.

5/3/1512, Gerardus Mercator, Flemish cartographer, was born in Flanders, as Gerhard Kremer.

1507, Waldemuller published his 12 gores for a globe, showing the southern continent of the Americas.

1492, Martin Behaim made the first globe map of the Earth � omitting the soon-to-be-discovered Americas and Pacific Ocean.

1397, Physician and mapmaker Paolo Toscanelli was born in Florence, Italy. It was his incorrect map, showing Asia just 3,000 miles west of Europe, that persuaded Columbus to sail west from Europe.

1314, The Mappa Mundi was produced, a map of the world with Jerusalem at its centre.

1300, Rhumb lines came into use for sea charts. They are lines of constant bearing relative to North; fanning out from ports, they helped sailors find their way back to port when on open sea.

1158, The world�s earliest known printed map was produced, showing western China.

1120, Walcher of Malvern pioneered the use of degrees, minutes and seconds to measure latitude and longitude.

115, In China, Zhang Heng developed the use of grid references for pinpointing locations on a map.

2250 BCE, The first city map was produced. It showed Lagash in Mesopotamia.

2350 BCE, Maps were produced by Sargon of Akkad, for taxation purposes.

15,000 BCE, The earliest artefact with a map was produced. Found in Mexhirich, Russia, it appears to show the immediate area around which it was found.


Back to top