A couple of news outlets in the UK are reporting on Landmark Information Group’s recently completed project to digitize Soviet military maps of the UK, which include 16,000 square kilometres and 103 UK town and cities, which have just gone on sale. The maps were mostly done between 1950 and 1990 and, in some cases are available at a 1:10,000 scale. Also included with the maps are a street index, descriptions, and lists of important buildings, such as military complexes.
The UK maps were part of a secretive effort by the Russian military and KGB to map countries around the world, and the maps only came to light really by accident. When the Soviet Union began to crumble in 1991, the Russian military was forced to withdraw quickly from many of the USSR’s satellite states. Following the withdrawal, thousands of paper maps covering the whole world were found in abandoned train carriages in Latvia and Estonia. Whether abandoned on purpose of by accident, the maps were seized by locals and sold to various private companies. The Register article has a link to another article by John Davies, which gives more information about the Soviet maps. Although the existence of these maps has been discussed before, this is the first time the UK collection has been offered for sale in digital form.
A US company, East View Carographics, bought the UK maps and in turn sold them to Landmark Information Group, which has just completed the task of digitizing the maps and is now offering them for sale online at Landmark’s Envirocheck website.