Tutorial | Historical Maps Coastal Zone

Search and explore

The focal point of the website is situated in the search and explore-section. This module allows to efficiently search for maps which are of relevance for your purpose. There is a filter function which can be adapted according to the age, geographical scope and theme of the map. In addition, a free search field can be used. The filters can be removed by clicking on the reset-button below the search function.

A thumbnail of each map is presented in the results. This image is clickable and leads to the corresponding map in the image library. The map is described in the reference with inter alia the title, author(s) and the year. One can compare the historical map with the present-day situation by clicking on the symbol of the map viewer. In this georeferenced map, fixed points on the historical map are linked to the same points on the current map, allowing you to compare and visualize both maps in the same reference system.

The georeferenced maps and derived shapefiles can be downloaded in the download section. There is also a link to the meta-data of the map in Geonetwork. All information which is needed to use the maps can be found in this catalogue including the rotation, standard deviation and mean positional error. These parameters allow the user to assess which analyses will (not) be feasible when using the historical maps. The distortion grid provides a visual representation of the distortion that occurred during the georeferencing of the map. The analysis of the geometric accuracy of the georeferenced maps was performed using the program MapAnalyst.

In all results, the source is clearly mentioned. This source should always be cited along with the website, when using the historical maps and the derived products.


Image library

The image library is a photo gallery where maps can be viewed according to the time period. There are also other items such as the distortion grids of the georeferenced maps and paleogeographic reconstructions of the coastal zone for the last 10,000 years. These reconstructions were created based on historical, archaeological and geological information and provide insight in how the coastline has evolved in a more distant past.



In the cartographers-module, the cartographers that are dealt with in this initiative are included. For each person, a brief biography and a section about the importance for geography can be found. The sources which were used, are also provided so that the user can find additional information.


Map viewer

In the map viewer, georeferenced maps can be consulted according to the century in which they were made. One can visualize the historical maps and compare them with the current situation with either OpenStreetMap or Google Satellite as background layer. The transparency of the maps can be adjusted in the tab: 'Active Layers'. The information-logo next to the various maps leads to the metadata in Geonetwork. It is also possible to visualize more than one map, in which case the order of the maps can be changed, using the arrows in the ‘Active layer’ tab.



Animations of the evolution of the coastal zone using historical maps and paleogeographic reconstructions can be found in this section.



In the toponyms-section etymological explanations of place names in the coastal zone and the Belgian part of the North Sea can be found. A link to articles with more information about the origin of a certain place name is provided in the table below. Furthermore, the toponyms can also be searched in a map layer by clicking on a location.