Professor Roger Kain

Contact details

Professor Roger Kain
CBE, FBA, BA, PhD, DLit (London)
Professor of Humanities
Central Services of the School
Senate House Malet Street London WC1E 7HU
Email address:

Research Summary and Profile

Research interests:
Early Modern, Manuscript studies
Summary of research interests and expertise:

The focus of Roger’s research is the history of maps and mapping for which he has obtained substantial funding, enabling employment of his principal collaborator, Dr Richard Oliver, continuously since 1987. Books published in the last 20 years include: Cadastral Maps in the Service of the State (University of Chicago Press, 1992 and winner of the Newberry Library Kenneth Nebenzahl Prize), The Tithe Maps of England and Wales (Cambridge University Press, 1995, reprinted 2011, and winner of the Library Association’s McColvin Medal), Historical Atlas of South-West England (Exeter University Press, 1999), English Maps: a History (British Library, 2000), The Enclosure of Maps of England and Wales, 1585-1918 (Cambridge University Press, 2004, reprinted 2011), and England's Landscape: The South West (English Heritage 2006), British Town Maps:  a history (British Library, 2015) ; this accompanies an electronic Catalogue of British Town Maps hosted by the Institute of Historical Research. In 2008 he was appointed editor of Cartography in the Nineteenth Century (University of Chicago Press) and funded by US National Endowment for Humanities and Natural Science Foundation.

Externally, Roger Kain has served as Secretary and Chair of the Institute of British Geographers Historical Geography Research Group and was Chair of the Royal Geographical Society-Institute of British Geographers Annual Conference in 2002, President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science Geography Section in 2004, and a member of the DfES Higher Education Research Forum. He was a member of the UUK and HEFCE/AHRC working groups on research assessment after 2008 and a founder-member of the Research Information Network Advisory Board. He was a member of HEFCE Research Committee, 2009-13 and is currently serving on the HEFCE Metrics Review Group and REF Impact Evaluation Steering Group. Roger was a member of the AHRC Council from 2008 to 2014. He has chaired the British Academy’s Human Geography and Social Anthropology Section, was founder chair of its Research Grants Committee, between 2002-10 was the Academy’s Treasurer and is currently Vice-President for Research and Higher Education Policy.

From 2011 to 2017, Roger Kain was Dean of the School of Advanced Study and is currently Professor of the Humanities.

Publication Details

Related publications/articles:

Date Details
01-Dec-2015 British Town Maps: a History


Towns are complex and sophisticated creations. Mapping towns stretched cartographers’ ingenuity to new heights of both artistic beauty and scientific exactitude as they strove to represent and communicate the physical patterns of streets, buildings and spaces; the ’above ground’ and the ’below ground’; the built structures and the economy; the lives of those who live or work there; and the unseen realities of land ownership, administration, religion and politics.

These maps served a variety of purposes, from guiding travellers, assisting with administration and government, raising taxes, planning the built environment, organising its defence – and much, much more. Some of the maps in this book are well known, others have languished in obscurity, deep in archives, until revealed by the ten years’ work of a British Academy research project on which this book is founded. Lavishly illustrated in colour, it tells the story of the mapping of urban Britain from the late middle ages until modern times. The text is accompanied by a comprehensive index of town maps which have been catalogued on an open-access electronic resource.


01-Jan-2006 Historic Parishes of England and Wales - An Electronic Map of Boundaries before 1850 with a Gazetteer and Metadata


This book introduces a newly compiled Electronic Map of the historic (mainly pre-1850) parishes, townships, and other local administrative areas of England and Wales which is set to become a standard reference resource. The book describes the data and the method of compilation, and includes an abbreviated version of the full Gazeteer/Metadata which serves as a hard copy index to the places located on the Electronic Map.
The value of a map of the 'historic parishes' of England and Wales
The inadequacy of existing published maps of 'historic parish' boundaries
Sources of parish boundary information for the Electronic Map
Compiling the Electronic Map boundaries
The topographic underlay for the boundary mapping
Abbreviated Gazeteer/Metadata
12 figures and tables, 243 pages
The Electronic Map covers the whole of England and Wales, and is organised by Ordance Survey Sheet number. The map consists of scanned bitmap images of the Ordance Survey one inch to the mile (1:63,360) New Popular Edition maps (1945-8) with National Grid. It contains the boundaries of some 18,233 places, and is arranged as three electronic 'layers'. The first is a scan of the Ordance Survey maps stored as grey tone sheet images. This enables Ordance Survey physical, cultural and place-name content to be readily visible in the background for orientation and general location purposes, while not obscuring the added boundary and reference number material. The second layer consists of the boundaries, stored as solid red lines; and the third layer contains the reference numbers that link places on the map to the gazeteer/metadata dataset that accompanies the maps.

The maps are availalbe on CD-ROM in Adobe Illustrator (TM)V6 (or Adobe Acrobat PDF (TM). Adobe Illustrator format is recommended if you already have the software (as it enables you to edit the maps and select the layers to view). However, the Adobe Acrobat PDF format is perfectly suitable for viewing the maps, and the necessary reader software will be supplied.

This unique combination publication will become an invaluable tool for all those interested in plotting local area-based data from the pat (population, agricultural, statistics, tax data etc) from the 14th to 19th centuries.

We wish to acknowledge the support of the Leverhulme Trust and the Economic and Social Research Council which funded the research.

Please note this book is currently out of print.
(ISBN 0-9540032-0-9)

01-Jan-2004 Enclosure and Rating, Parochial Assessment,Sanitary And Drainage Maps, 1595-1918: a cartographic analysis and electronic catalogue Cambridge University Press, 2004. Paperback edition published 2011.

To complement the study of the tithe maps, between 1993 and 1998 a five-year study of the pre-Ordnance Survey cadastral-type maps of England and Wales was undertaken by Roger Kain and Richard Oliver, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. By far the largest component of this group are the 5000 or so enclosure maps dating from 1598 to 1927. The results of this study on enclosure maps are published here.

For more information please go here:

01-Jan-1999 English Maps: A History, Catherine Delano-Smith and Roger J P Kain, London, British Library and Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1999.

This book adopts the revisionist perspectives of the ‘new’ history of cartography, and reviews a broad range of maps ranging in date from about 700 AD to the early twentieth century. The principal objective is to explore the ways in which maps have interacted with society in England’s past, to analyse the roles the maps have played and the uses to which they have been put. Connections across the centuries are recognised and to avoid too insular a view, the influence of ongoing intellectual and cartographic developments in the rest of Europe are noted.

01-Jan-1995 Tithes Maps of England and Wales, 1995, Cambridge University Press, paperback edition 2011

This catalogues all 11,785 tithe maps of England and Wales, and lists for each the scale, maker (where known), and the topographic and other content. The book was awarded the Library Association’s McColvin medal as the outstanding work of reference published in 1995. This research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and The Leverhulme Trust.

01-Jan-1992 Cadastral maps in the service of the state: A history of property mapping. Roger J P Kain and Elizabeth Baigent, Chicago University Press, 1992

Beginning with a review of the roots of cadastral mapping in the Roman Empire, the authors concentrate on the use of cadastral maps in the Netherlands, France, England, the Nordic countries, the German lands, the territories of the Austrian Habsburgs, and the European colonies in the New World. During the seventeenth century, governments began to use maps to secure economic and political bases; by the nineteenth century, these maps had become tools for aggressive governmental control of land for taxation and resource management. The cadastral map in the service of the state was awarded the 1991 Kenneth Nebenzahl Prize for the best new manuscript in the history of cartography.

01-Jan-1991 Maps and History in South-West England, Edited by Katherine Barker and Roger Kain, University of Exeter Press, 1991

Maps are a vital but complex source of evidence for historians. The six essays in this book consider the practical and political purposes for which maps were used, the symbolic and ideological roles of maps in the history of south-west England and the ways in which map evidence can be used to recover facts about the past for use in the wrting of history. A range of types are examined: early county maps; manorial and estate plans; maps produced in conjunction with enclosure awards and tithe surveys; Ordance Survey maps.

01-Jan-1986 An atlas and index of the tithe files of mid-nineteenth-century England and Wales (Cambridge University Press, 1986), paperback edition 2010

Maps much of the statistical information from the tithe files. The database associated with this Atlas has been published as a searchable CDROM: A socio-economic analysis of land use: the 1836 national tithe files database, Marlborough, Adam Matthew, 1995.

01-Jan-1985 The Tithe Surveys of England and Wales, Cambridge University Press, 1985

Provides a general description of the maps, apportionments and tithe files, and demonstrate uses to which they have been put.

Publications available in Senate House Libraries

Research Projects & Supervisions

Research projects:


Catalogue of British Town Maps Central Services of the School
Project period: 04-Jan-2012 - 31-Mar-2017

Research interests: History, Modern History

British town maps, 1470-1895: a catalogue and cartographical analysis

This research on the urban cartography of Britain was adopted as a British Academy Research Project in March 1998 and the Arts and Humanities Research Board agreed in 1999 to fund work on English town maps to June 2005 and (in 2004) awarded further funding to extend the project to Wales and Scotland. This phase ran through to 2008. This study is the latest part of the long-term research programme to record and analyse the pre-Ordnance Survey, large-scale maps of the nation as described in previous sections. A comprehensive catalogue of the maps analysed is available from UK Data Archive and a monograph is expected to be published by the British Library in 2013.

Further details can be found here:

Cartography in the Nineteenth Century

History of Cartography, Vol 5, The Nineteenth Century

This project is supported by funding from the US National Endowment for the Humanities, National Science Foundation, private trusts, and donors. Roger Kain is Editor and Contributor to this work which will comprise 1 million words and 1,000 illustrations.

Further details can be viewed at

Professional Affiliations

Professional affiliations:

Name Activity
Research England Metrics for REF Environment and Impact
The British Academy Vice-President (Research & Higher Education Policy)
Forum for Responsible Metrics Member
Research England REF Interdisciplinary Advisory Group
Universities UK Open Access for Monographs Working Group
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