Black and white aerial photo of the Houses of Parliament and River Thames in London.
Houses of Parliament, London, England. Flown 2 July 1946. © Historic England Aerofilms Collection EAW001431
Houses of Parliament, London, England. Flown 2 July 1946. © Historic England Aerofilms Collection EAW001431

Aerial Photo Explorer

Historic aerial photography shows the growth and changes to England's urban and rural landscapes. Aerial photos can reveal hidden archaeology and sites that are difficult or even impossible to see from the ground.

You can explore over 400,000 digitised photos taken from our aerial photo collections of over 6 million photographs preserved in the Historic England Archive.

Use our nationally important collections of aerial photographs to explore your area. Find the place where you live or why not look for your favourite football ground, railway station or the places you visit?

How to use this map

Turn layers on/off

  • To turn individual layers on/off, tick or untick the box next to the required layer.

Adjust the Transparency of a layer

  • To the right of the layer, click on this button ... and move the slider to make the layer colour less or more dark

Change the Basemap

  • Select this button for a choice of different basemaps, ranging from Open Streetmap to satellite imagery.

Select imagery

  • Use this button to enable the selection of multiple images or select images by date flown. You can only select images on one layer at a time. 
  • To search by date:
    • Quickest: Search between years flown.
    • Advanced: Use the 'exact date' calendar picker to search between specific dates.
  • To select by area click on the pull down menu in the Spatial features box and select Only return features with the shape drawn on the map. You will then have options to draw a line, rectangle, circle or polygon and the option to add a buffer around the edge of your search area. Once you have drawn your area click on Apply. A selection of images will appear on the right hand side of the screen for you to scroll down. Click on a thumbnail to view the image in detail. Click on the symbol to the left of the thumbnail to locate the image on the map.

Photo Details

  • Click on any symbol to see a pop-up about it and any other photographs of that area in the layers that are turned on.
  • The pop-up box will show the number of photographs in the top left corner e.g. (1 of 4), (1 of 5) etc.
  • Scrolling through the boxes, using the ► and ◄ tabs will reveal information about each photograph; as each pop-up appears, the photograph selected is highlighted.


  • To get the co-ordinates of any location, select this icon  in the bottom left hand corner of the map.  Clicking anywhere on the map will display the co-ordinates next to the icon.

We will be continually updating this map with aerial images from the collections of the Historic England Archive.

Recently added: United States Army Air Forces Collection

20,000 photographs captured by reconnaissance aircraft over England during the Second World War. The photos show airfields, military bases, towns, and countryside in England between 1943 and 1944.

Learn more about the collection or explore the photos in the map below.

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

The Archive holds a huge collection of historic aerial photographs that have yet to be digitised. Contact Archive Customer Services to request a free search for the place you’re interested in.

Archive Customer Services

  • Address

    The Engine House,
    Fire Fly Avenue,
    SN2 2EH