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Frequently asked questions

Why are Cassini Maps so useful?
Who are Cassini Maps?
What printed maps does Cassini publish?
What is Mapmaker?
How do I download a Mapmaker map?
What is the delivery time for Mapmaker printed and mounted maps?
Cassini already produces hundreds of printed and folded maps. Why offer Mapmaker as well?
What historical maps does Cassini Mapmaker provide?
Can I buy your Mapmaker products anywhere else apart from the Cassini website?
Can I buy your printed maps anywhere else apart from the Cassini website?
What is a map series?
Is Cassini going to be adding other series to its range?
How can I be kept informed of new products that you offer?
I’m a retailer – how can I order maps for re-sale?
I’m a wholesaler – how can I order maps?
How can I find out more about historical Ordnance Survey maps?
What is a scale?
What scales are Cassini's maps?
What is a map projection?
How have the maps been joined together?
What about the railways? Sometimes a line suddenly stops half-way across the sheet.
Why does the background colour of the maps sometimes vary?
Why does the style, such as the type, sometimes change across the map?
Why do the maps sometimes show a range of dates (such as 1845-49)?
Why are there no map legends on the printed Old Series maps?
Do historical maps show rights of way?
Who owns the copyright of the Cassini maps?
Can I reproduce the maps I have bought?
Can I license your historical mapping data to use in a GIS system?
Who created your map browsing software?

   
 
Why are Cassini Maps so useful?
 

If you’ve come this far into our site you probably already have a good reason for being interested in historical maps. They appeal to many people: local historians, genealogists, home owners with an interest in the history of their area and property, walkers and cyclists who want to see how the landscape they’re exploring has changed, metal detectors who are interested in discovering old paths on which valuable items might have been dropped centuries before: the list could go on and on. Surveyors, architects, archaeologists, planners, solicitors and farmers also often need, and are frequently obliged, to know how the landscape has changed.

But enough of everyone else – what’s your reason for being interested? CLICK HERE and tell us why you’re exploring the landscape of the past. We want to know so that we can produce more maps in different formats to satisfy as many people’s needs as possible. Every response will earn you a discount voucher.

 
  Who are Cassini Maps?

  Cassini Maps are part of Cassini Publishing Ltd which was founded in 2005 with the aim of providing something unique – reprints of historical Ordnance Survey maps of England & Wales that matched the scale, projection and coverage of present-day Ordnance Survey 1:50,000-scale Landranger maps. This would let people compare the past and the present quickly and accurately for whatever reason they needed. Since then we’ve published over 500 historical maps. All are available on this web site and also at all good bookshops.
 
  What printed maps does Cassini publish?
  In summary, for every Landranger area of England, Wales and Edinburgh (123 areas in all) we produce three maps from three different periods (from 1805 to 1928) – these match each other and the corresponding Landranger in scale, projection and area of coverage. The three maps of each area are also available as a 3-map Box Set.

Then there’s our Past & Present series. Each map (there are currently 64) covers an area of roughly 10 x 10 miles, usually centred on a town or city, and provides four maps from four different periods, including the present day.

Finally, we have special 5-map Box Sets of Edinburgh, Liverpool and London which provide detailed coverage of these great British cities at various points in their development from 1805 to 1956 (dates vary from city to city).

For more information, CLICK HERE to have a look at the Printed Maps section of our website.

Realising that people also wanted maps in different formats, we then decided to launch a service letting people create their own maps on our web site. This is called Mapmaker.

 
 
What is Mapmaker?
 

Mapmaker is a web-based service that puts you in control of producing your own historical map. You can choose what area the map covers, how much it’s enlarged and what format it’s provided to you in. More options are being added all the time.

CLICK HERE to visit the Mapmaker part of our site.

 
  How do I download a Mapmaker map?
  If you have ordered one of our Mapmaker downloadable maps you need to do the following:

First go to the 'My Account' page of the website (you can find a link on the left hand menu).
Log in using your email address and your cassini password, which can be found in your order confirmation email*.
Once logged in you will be able to view your order history and download your mapmaker downloadable maps.
To download your maps click on the download button and follow the instructions**.
 
To download the latest free version of Adobe Reader® click here 
You will need Adobe Reader® to view and print Adobe® Portable Document Format (PDF) files.
 
* If you have lost your order confirmation with your password in you can use the 'Forgotten your password' feature at the bottom of the 'My Account' page to have it resent to you (please check your spam folders if it doesn't appear in your inbox). If you still do not receive your password it may be that your email address was entered incorrectly when you first ordered. If this is the case, please contact customerservices@cassinimaps.com or phone us on 01722 717 132.

** Customers with the Microsoft Internet Explorer 7 Browser may receive a warning message on the top of the download window asking for confirmation that they want to download the file. Click on the yellow bar at the top of the download window and select 'Download file...'.
It has also been reported that some customers using Safari on a Mac. map find that the Safari adds '.exe' to the end of the file name. To open these files in a PDF reader you will need to remove the '.exe' extension.
 
  What is the delivery time for Mapmaker printed and mounted maps?
  Mapmaker personalised printed maps and mounted maps may take up to 14 days for production and delivery. For other product information please visit out Postal Rates and Delivery page.
 
  Cassini already produces hundreds of printed and folded maps. Why offer Mapmaker as well?
  Because people want maps in a range of different formats. In general, our printed and folded maps follow the area of coverage of the Ordnance Survey Landranger series – so, our three map 174s cover the same area as the Landranger 174, but from three different periods. These maps have proved very popular and will continue to be produced.

Some people, though, find that the area they’re interested in is spread over two or more Landranger-matching maps. Others want to have flat maps at a smaller size that they can frame or put in a file with their other research papers and notes. Sometimes people want to have the map enlarged. We know this because they told us. For all these reasons, we decided to offer a service whereby you could create the map you needed.

 
 
What historical maps does Cassini Mapmaker provide?
 
A considerable number – and its growing. Our present range includes seven series of maps of England & Wales, two of which also include Scotland, from periods from 1805 to the present day. Most were originally drawn at a scale of one inch to the mile. but we do offer larger scale, more detailed, maps that take you down to street level. We’re also in the process of adding maps at more detailed scales and more maps of Scotland.
 
  Can I buy your Mapmaker products anywhere else apart from the Cassini website?
  At present, no. Before too long, however, we shall be making them available through selected resellers. You will be able to visit them and they will be able to help you create the map or maps you need.
 
  Can I buy your printed maps anywhere else apart from the Cassini website?
  Yes. All good bookshops and an increasing range of other retailers (including garden centres, gift shops, family and local history societies, museums, tourist information centres and tourist attractions) will stock the maps of their area and can order any others that you choose. Stanfords in Long Acre and the National Map Centre in Victoria stock our entire range.

If you do not live near a bookshop and would prefer to order directly and pay by cheque or card, please CLICK HERE to request a brochure and order form.

 
 
What is a map series?
 

From the early 19th century, Ordnance Survey made a succession of surveys and re-surveys of Britain which resulted in maps being printed of the whole country. Depending on the scale, these ran to several hundred or several thousand sheets. Each of these series of maps was, at the time or later, given a name to distinguish it and we have used these names in our editions. Each series not only showed the landscape at different stages of development but also showed evolving styles of the maps themselves, including the increased use of colour, symbols and contour lines.

For more information on the various series we have published, click on the appropriate button below:

Old Series
Revised New Series
Popular Edition
New Popular Edition
Seventh Series
Scottish First Edition
Scottish Third Edition
Scottish Popular Edition
County Series

 
  Is Cassini going to be adding other series to its range?
  Yes. All our new series, whether available as printed maps or as part of Mapmaker, will be announced and made available on our web site and will be given the widest possible publicity in the national, regional, local and specialist press. Any printed products will also be available through all good bookshops and an increasing range of other retailers. Our Mapmaker products are currently only available through our web site, although we shall be extending this service to selected resellers before too long.
 
  How can I be kept informed of new products that you offer?
  All our new products will be announced and made available on our web site, so we recommend that you add this to your favourites and check back from time to time. Major product releases are also publicised as widely as possible in the media, particularly those dealing with local or family history.

We also produce a newsletter which gives information, for retailers and consumers, about our new products. CLICK HERE and use the form under the left hand menu to add your name to our mailing list.

 
  I’m a retailer – how can I order maps for re-sale?
  Very easily.

If you’re in the book trade you can order maps from our distributors, Central Books; from Bertrams or Gardners; or from a wide range of specialist local and regional wholesalers.

If you’re not in the book trade but are a retailer (including on-line), then can order maps from our distributors or from wholesalers: you can also order directly from us. If you want to find out more about opening up a trade account please CLICK HERE.

 
  I’m a wholesaler – how can I order maps?
  Very easily. We already sell our maps through a number of wholesalers, many of which specialise in a particular market or geographical area. All our arrangements with wholesalers are non-exclusive. CLICK HERE to send us an email and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
 
  How can I find out more about historical Ordnance Survey maps?
  A certain amount of information is contained in these FAQs, elsewhere on our web site and on the maps themselves; but this does little more than scratch the surface of what is a vast field that combines cartography, mathematics, history, design and print technology, amongst others. If you wish to explore the subject in more depth, we recommend that you contact the Charles Close Society for the Study of Ordnance Survey Maps, which produces a large number of publications. Visit www.charlesclosesociety.org.uk
 
 
What is a scale?
 

The scale of a map shows by how much it has been reduced. These days it is normally expressed as 1: followed by a larger number: 1:50,000, for instance, means that one unit on the map represents 50,000 of the same units on the ground; which, in this example, can be converted to 2cm = 1km.

The smaller the number after the 1:, the more detailed the map is. Somewhat perversely, the smaller the number – and thus the more detailed the map – the larger the scale. A 1:10,000 map would therefore be described as being at a larger scale than a 1:50,000 map.

 
 
What scales are Cassini’s maps?
 

We have four series that were originally drawn at a scale of one inch to the mile, with others being added soon: the more detailed six inch to the mile maps will be the next.

Since the late 1960s, small scale Ordnance Survey maps have been produced using metric scales (such as 1:50,000), rather than at the old Imperial scales (such as one inch to the mile): old maps and modern maps cannot, for this reason and others, be compared with any accuracy. We have therefore enlarged the historical maps so that they match the scale used by maps today. One inch to the mile, for instance, is equal to 1:63,360. The nearest present-day map in the Ordnance Survey Landranger, which is at 1:50,000. We’ve therefore enlarged the old one-inch maps to this scale. All our printed and folded maps (available elsewhere on this site) are at this scale. As well as making them easier to read, they’re also easier to compare. In Cassini Mapmaker, you can enlarge these still further if you wish.

In the same way, the six inch to the mile scale equals 1:10,560. We’ve enlarged all these to 1:10,000.

If you’re using Mapmaker, the maps you create can be enlarged still more if you wish.

 
 
What is a map projection?
 

Because the surface of the earth is curved and a map is flat, cartographers have to employ a controlled distortion when drawing maps – skin an orange and try to flatten out the peel and you’ll see the problem. These ‘distortions’ are very precisely calculated and involve complex mathematics. Each different method is known as a projection, most of which have names, such as Cassini, Transverse Mercator and Peters. Maps of the same area drawn using different projections can look very different from each other. In particular, the shape of the coast and other features will vary from map to map and locations such as towns will appear in different positions. The larger the area of coverage and the smaller the scale, the worse this problem becomes.

As mentioned above, Ordnance Survey’s small scale maps have, since the 1960s, been produced using metric scales rather than at the old imperial ones. They are also produced using different projections (The current system is based on a Transverse Mercator projection on what is called the “National Grid”). Taken together, these factors make comparing old maps and new ones next to impossible. We have enlarged the maps to match modern scales: this was a comparatively simple operation. Vastly more complicated was re-projecting the old maps to match the modern projections used today. As a result, you can compare maps from different periods with each other, and with present-day ones, to an extent not previously possible. Ordnance Survey’s larger scale maps have been produced on the National Grid since the 1940’s – these superseded the Ordnance Survey’s County Series which were based different scales (e.g. 1:10,560 rather than 1:10,000, Imperial measurement and the Cassini projection system.

 
 
How have the maps been joined together?
 

The short answer is ‘with great difficulty.’

As well as problems of different scales and projections, each mapping series was produced using its own sheet sizes and shapes. Sometimes these were square, sometimes rectangular. We scanned all the maps, being careful to find ones in good condition with no folds or creases, and then cut them down to the frame edge. Theoretically, they could then be joined together to form a vast seamless sheet .

Unfortunately, the edges rarely matched exactly. Particularly with the older maps, one sheet might have been produced using a different projection or point of origin from its neighbour. Some sheets had overlaps between them, which needed to be trimmed off. Furthermore, two adjoining sheets may have been surveyed by different people at different times, using different standards of accuracy, cartographic conventions and instructions as to what to include (no map can ever include everything). In a few cases, the surveyors made errors, with a road suddenly stopping at a sheet join, or continuing but from a different position.

In short, the maps were never designed to be joined up, and we were the first people to attempt to do this with the one-inch sheets. Although there are some problems, the overwhelming impression is of a stunning level of accuracy – and this without computers, vans to carry the equipment, GPS technology or even, in the case of the first maps, any previous maps to work from.

 
 
What about the railways? Sometimes a line suddenly stops half-way across the sheet.
 

This is mainly a problem with the Old Series, the first one-inch series surveyed by Ordnance Survey. So massive was the task that it took over 70 years to complete. When it began, in 1805, railways hadn’t even been invented; when it was completed, in 1874, the rail network covered virtually every corner of the country. The surveyors were overtaken by the navvies.

To overcome this problem when it first appeared from the 1830s, the Ordnance Survey went back over the sheets they’d created and over-engraved new railway lines, but without changing other features or even the publication date, which made it very hard to know when the map had been altered. By the 1850s, the problem was largely solved by more flexible print technology and the fact that the mapmakers were, in general, surveying areas that already had their railways built and so included them from the outset. Future series (being in general revisions) were produced over a far shorter time period for the whole country, so reducing the problem still further. For this middle period of the Old Series maps, though, which mainly covered the middle part of the country (the surveyors started at the south coast and moved north), this problem does from time to time appear and is virtually impossible to solve.

 
 
Why does the background colour of the maps sometimes vary?
 

All our maps, whether created for our printed and folded maps or using Mapmaker, involve combining various original sheets. These were often quite small and so on our printed and folded maps it’s not uncommon for parts of eight different originals to have been used, and sometimes more. Even an A4 Mapmaker map could easily have parts of four sheets used to create it.

These original sheets were never designed to be joined up and were often produced at different times, printed on different machines and stored in different places in varying conditions. These days, consistency and accuracy across a series of maps is taken very seriously and modern technology can help ensure that colours are the same for Land’s End as they are for John o’Groats. No such standards existed in the 19th and early 20th century. Also, some of the maps we scanned are over 200 years old, and small variations in light and humidity can cause changes to the inking. In some cases, these variations were beyond our power to correct and we sourced alternative sheets. In others, the variations didn’t become clear until we started to join them up. We’ve done our best to smooth out the worst inconsistencies but sometimes this would have been impossible without distorting some other aspect of the map.

 
 
Why does the style, such as the type, sometimes change across the map?
 

All our maps were created from joining together several original sheets. Some of these were published several years apart and used different styles of type, symbols and the like. This is particularly the case with the first series produced, the Old Series. As nobody had ever mapped the country at this scale in such a single-minded way before, the surveyors and engravers would often find they were confronted with a problem or a choice on one sheet that hadn’t occurred on a previously published one. The earliest maps, of Southern England, were produced at break-neck speed because of fears that Napoleon was about to invade the country (as he so nearly did) and the map makers were not much concerned with features like ancient barrows or the names of mills that had no immediate military significance. Later, the maps began to acquire a more civilian aspect and such features tended to be added.

Also, the progress of the Old Series surveying and mapping took so long (over 70 years) in its progress from south to north that the mapmakers found they were describing an increasingly crowded landscape, particularly with the advent of the railways. Type tended to become smaller, abbreviations and symbols began to be used more freely and more choices needed to be made as to what to include or exclude, all with an eye to the increasingly wide range of uses (not only military ones) to which the maps were being put. New surveying and printing technology also played their part. As the 19th century progressed, the landscape could be measured more accurately and the results displayed more flexibly and, increasingly, more colourfully. A railway-free and largely empty country in 1805 was, within a few decades, anything but, and the mapmakers needed to reflect this as best they could, pushing the available technology to the limit in order to record it.

 
 
Why do the maps sometimes show a range of dates (such as 1845-49)?
 

As described above, each series was produced and published over several years; several decades in the case of the Old Series. Often, two adjoining original sheets may have been published in different years, and the date range we provide reflects this.

For various reasons, particularly the rapid spread of the railways, maps may have had some (but not all) new features added before being re-published. This can cause confusion and uncertainty as to what the actual date of an original sheet is, and from what date the survey information comes. The dates we have provided are those of the first publication of that sheet for that series, even though it may have had other features (such as railway lines) added later.

 
  Why are there no map legends on the printed Old Series maps?
  Because they didn’t exist on the originals.

The Old Series maps were produced over several generations in the 19th century during which time the complexity of the landscape, and thus the maps, grew. It was only with subsequent series that it became clear to Ordnance Survey that a consistent table of symbols, line styles and abbreviations would be necessary. Various cartographic scholars have produced a series of legends that describe the evolving use of such features, but this is impossible to reproduce on our maps which often combine parts of original sheets from more than one period. Most symbols and styles on the Old Series can be inferred from local knowledge or common sense.

 
 
Do historical maps show rights of way?
 

No. Ordnance Survey was not and is not concerned with questions of land access or land ownership. Any right-of-way-data that exists on their present-day maps is licensed from other bodies such as local authorities.

That is not to say that old maps are of no use in indicating a right of way such as a footpath or bridleway. If a path or track existed in a rural area was used in the 19th or early 20th century it would almost certainly have been marked on the one-inch maps. Even if it has since disappeared from modern maps the right of access may still exist, and the old map may be able to be used as evidence. Because our maps match the scale and projection of modern maps such as Ordnance Survey’s Landrangers, this exercise of comparison is much easier than previously.

 
  Who owns the copyright of the Cassini maps?
  Cassini Publishing Ltd; although some parts of some maps, particularly the Past & Present printed maps. have been licensed from other bodies, in which case this will be specified on the title in question. Because we have enhanced, enlarged, combined and re-projected them, the copyright resides with us, and any reproduction or usage not permitted by the terms and conditions of your purchase is prohibited without prior written permission.
   
  Can I reproduce the maps I have bought?
  In general, no. All our maps, including any covers and any text, are protected by UK copyright law. This means that they may not be copied in any form without prior written consent of the copyright holder.. Special terms may apply to digital maps downloaded from Cassini Mapmaker. For further information please see the Copyright statement on published maps and our terms and condition on our website.
 
  Can I license your historical mapping data to use in a GIS system?
  Yes, you can. If you’d like further details on licensing Cassini historical map data for commercial re-use or publishing in any form including not-for-profit, please contact licensing@cassinimaps.com
   
  Who created your map browsing software?
  The map browsing software used in the "MapMaker" section of our web site is a bespoke application built with the help of UseGIS Limited - a UK-based company that specialises in web-based mapping technologies.  UseGIS have over 20 years collective experience of historical maps covering the UK and Ireland, particularly those published by the Ordnance Survey.  For more information of their services, please visit www.usegis.co.uk
   
 
Copyright © Cassini Publishing Ltd.