Online atlas maps Edinburgh’s past

An interactive atlas mapping Edinburgh’s historical growth will be available at the touch of button, thanks to an online tool.

Researchers are using a combination of historical maps, satellite imagery and data gathered on the ground to create a resource that charts the city’s development over the past 150 years.

Digital maps

Users will be able to click on specific streets, properties and plots of land to see how the locations have developed over the decades.

The online atlas, developed by University of Edinburgh historians, enables users to add details by superimposing data - including addresses, census returns and commercial property details - on to historical digital maps.

The project - called MESH (Mapping Edinburgh’s Social History) launched its website at the National Library for Scotland in Edinburgh.

Historians are continuing to collect information for the resource and are keen to hear from people with historical data relating to the city. This might include locations of past businesses, places of recreation or land management.

The MESH project will also provide free online tools to allow anyone to produce their own historical maps, digital data collections and printed atlases.

Mapping services

Already public organisations are beginning to see the potential of these maps and are using them for things like referencing the locations of historic monuments. MESH has none of the commercial restrictions associated with other mapping services – we believe that the atlas will form the basis for expansion in other cities across the world.

Project leader Professor RodgerSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology

The work is being funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and is supported by Edinburgh City Council, Edinburgh World Heritage Trust, the National Library of Scotland, the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland and Edinburgh architects Simpson and Brown.