Portal to the Past

The EngLaId project’s ArcGIS WebApp can be found here:


This provides access to mapping of publishable EngLaId data for English archaeology from the Middle Bronze Age (c.1500BC) to the Domesday Book (AD1086, but for practical purposes AD1065 for most of the datasets). This data is only provided down to the nearest 1x1km grid square at its highest spatial resolution. The grid squares are slightly offset from the OS National Grid to avoid quadruple counting of records that fell on the origin of OS 1x1km grid squares (due to their known precision).

This page provides a short guide on how to use the WebApp. The WebApp was designed to work on a computer or tablet, so features may be too small to see on a smartphone. A demo video on using the WebApp can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkl7Xsm6jCw

When the app starts, you should see the following welcome pop-up, which gives some information on the various datasets included etc. and can be dismissed by clicking OK:


You will then see the user interface (UI) for the WebApp proper (click to enlarge image):


The pink hexagons are the main EngLaID dataset, which is filterable down to particular monument or find types (as we shall see below). As you zoom in, the large hexagons will be replaced by smaller hexagons, and finally by the 1x1km grid squares. Filtering affects all three datasets at once.

The search box lets you search for a place in Britain or for the unique identifier (CELLID) of the 1x1km grid squares.

The following elements of the UI have been labelled:

1 – Zoom in / out (searching for a place or postcode is next to this)

2 – Reset the map to the initial zoom level

3 – (if using the https: link) Zoom to your approximate location

4- Select layers (see below)

5 – Legend / key to displayed layers (see below)

6 – Filter EngLaID dataset (see below)

7 – Select basemap (see below)

8 – About / instructions (see below)

9 – Coordinates of the mouse cursor (can be switched to OS National Grid coordinates, but then you need to select the little crosshair button and click on the map to get the coordinates)

10 – Share a link to the map

11 – Print the map

12 – Open or close the EngLaID thesaurus panel (13)

13 – EngLaID thesaurus panel: these are the monument / finds types that can be filtered (using button labelled 6)

The layer selection box (4 above) allows you to turn on or off the various background datasets provided, as well as the main EngLaID datasets, by ticking or unticking the boxes next to the layer names. Clicking on any elipsis (…) will bring up the key for that layer.


Clicking on the legend button (5 above) will show you the key to the symbology for any layers that are visible:


Clicking on the basemap button (7 above) will let you switch the base mapping that is displayed behind our datasets:


Clicking on the about button (8 above) will provide you with a short set of instructions on using the website and some information on the datasets included:


Clicking on the filter button (6 above) will allow you to filter down the main EngLaID datasets to just show one or more categories of monument. If you close the tool, your filter will be lost, so first you may wish to click on the little gear icon (click to enlarge):


…and then tick the box next to “Persist After Widget is Closed”, then click on the gear icon again (click to enlarge):


To filter the datasets, first select the time period you wish to search under (1 below, click to enlarge), then make sure the second drop down (2) says “CONTAINS”, then type in a code defined in the thesaurus panel in the text box (3). If you wish to search for multiple types, click the “Add Criteria” button (4). “Apply” (5) applies the filter and “Reset” (6) removes any filter.


You should then see that the hexagons are filtered down to just those that contain evidence for whichever monument or find category you search for.

When you zoom in far enough that the 1x1km grid squares are displayed, you can get more information by clicking on any particular grid square (click to enlarge). If you then click on little arrowhead icon, then on the elipsis (…) in the bottom right hand corner of the pop up, you can click on “View in Attribute Table”:


…which opens up a table view for that specific grid square at the bottom of the page (click to enlarge). This shows any individual source records that possess a URL to link to another dataset. The thesaurus codes are listed again (1 below) and the relevant URLs (2). The tabled can be closed by clicking on the little tab at its top (3).


When you click on a URL, it should take you to the associated record at an external website (these external websites are those run by bodies who provided data to our project):


Please note that due to their great number, not all URLs have been checked, so some may not work properly. This is likely to be increasingly the case over time, as we are not able to maintain or update the links provided.

Hopefully, this page should provide you with sufficient information to use our WebApp. We hope you find it useful. You might also find this demonstration video of use:

We would like to thank again the many different people and organisations who provided data to us. Data presented originally came from the following sources:

Background data is based upon the following:

  • Roads and trackways: derived from the National Record of the Historic Environment, with the permission of Historic England: http://www.pastscape.org.uk/
  • Sea levels: Sturt, F., D. Garrow and S. Bradley. 2013. New models of North West European Holocene palaeogeography and inundation. Journal of Archaeological Science 40(11), 3963–3976.
  • Geology – modified, based upon DiGMapGB-625, with the permission of the British Geological Survey: http://www.bgs.ac.uk/products/digitalmaps/digmapgb_625.html
  • Soils – modified, based upon NSRI Natmap Vector soils data © Cranfield University (NSRI) and for the Controller of HMSO 2009: http://www.landis.org.uk/data/nmvector.cfm