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Historical mapping

Lantmäteriet, the Swedish mapping, cadastral and land registration authority was established in 1628 - the year when cartographer Anders Bure was commissioned by King Gustav II Adolf to systematically survey and map the country.

It all started with geometric (detailed) mapping of farms, villages and cities with attendant lands. The maps from this period were drawn to the scale of 1:4 000. From the mid-1600s the land surveyors continued with their extensive geographic (general) mapping. They made maps of parishes, hundreds, counties, coasts, islands and archipelagos, over streams and roads. These maps, which were drawn in scales between 1:10 000-1:150 000 and often showed a large geographical area, are included in the Land Survey Board archive, LMS.

In the late 1600s cadastral and land registration offices were established in Swedish county towns and geometric mapping once again became a prominent part of the land surveyor's activities. Over the years large-scale mapping has been conducted for various reasons, including tax settlements, investigations into ownership disputes and parcelling.

The activities of the land surveyors eventually became more centred on our then primary industry, agriculture, through the major land reforms of the 1700 - and 1800s. A number of land reforms were implemented broadly across the country. The purpose of these land reforms was to try to amalgamate the then-fragmented land parcels into more economically viable units. The maps that were drawn up and the decisions made then are still legally valid when it comes to property division, unless the area has been affected by subsequent cadastral procedures.

Archiving became an important issue on account of great significance of the maps. The maps and related documents were kept separate from the administrative documents. In conjunction with the growth in regional activities during the first half of the 18th century the safe storage of the archive came into focus. The archive was often the reason for the establishment of a more permanent location, often in conjunction with other state administrations in the provincial capitals. It was now that the Lantmäteriet’s cadastral archives began to be formed.

In the mid 1800s, economic and topographic mapping of the country became more systematic which resulted in the establishment of the Geographical Survey Office, RAK . The Geographical Survey Office, RAK, archive houses small-scale maps from the mid-1800s up until the late 1970s, including economic maps, ordinance survey maps and economic hundred maps.

Fortunately all the maps and related cadastral documentation drawn up since the inception of the Lantmäteriet have been carefully archived and preserved. This map collection is unique in the world, and includes more than one million historical maps.

In order to protect the material from wear while making it accessible to more people, the Lantmäteriet decided to digitise the archives. Work began in the year 2000 to scan the historical maps, store them in ‘Arken’ - Lantmäteriet’s digital archives and make them available via the Internet. The work was completed in 2009.

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Historical maps

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