Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System (GBHGIS)

Historic Boundaries of Britain.JISC logo

April 2007-June 2009

This is a JISC-funded digitisation programme project to digitise political boundaries and scan historical maps. These will be presented, along with statistical maps of election result data, on the "A Vision of Britain Through Time" website.


Administrative boundaries provide a framework for many of the activities of the state, from welfare provision via poor law unions in the past to elections held in constituencies today. This project has created a comprehensive digital library of historic administrative boundaries for Britain through a combination of scanning historical maps and creating vector boundaries for selected geographies.


The central focus is on boundaries for parliamentary constituencies and these are used as a framework for presenting British election statistics for 1832-2008. It will all be available on the open access Vision of Britain website where new coverage of political life will link constituency boundaries and voting statistics to deliver a systematic and accessible record of franchise reform and voting behaviour.

The GBHGIS Project has also scanned and geo-referenced over 1000 new historical maps. Constituency-to-nation relationships have been added to the administrative gazetteer. Parish boundaries were used to generate initial vector maps of constituencies by being overlaid on scanned constituency maps and then being manually edited for those constituency boundaries which did not follow parish boundaries. This method means digital maps were created in which boundaries in different administrative layers that followed identical lines on the ground exactly match in the computer.

Programme Website:

Project Documentation:

HBB Project Plan June 2007 [Acrobat (.pdf) - 248KB Fri, 02 Nov 2007 13:08:00 GMT]

HBB Final Report February 2009 [Acrobat (.pdf) - 129 KB Wed, 23 Nov 2011 17:43:00 GMT]