HisGIS as a tool for Bruges

(Musea Bruges, Bruges, Belgium)

Keywords: HisGIS, historical cartography, combining digital technologies

Archaeologists performing background research in Bruges always had quite favourable conditions to work with. The history of Bruges is documented pretty well and they have an extraordinary detailed historical map at their disposal to clarify the interpretation of archaeological data. The map of Bruges by Marcus Gerards in 1562 shows the city in an interesting timeframe: right after Bruges’ commercial peak period and right before the religious unstable times of the sixteenth century.
About five years ago, this bird’s-eye view on Bruges by Marcus Gerards was digitised with GIS technology. It became the foundation of a dynamic information system on the history of Bruges in and around the middle ages. This database, MAGIS Bruges, was an added value for researchers. The very useful historic map became freely available online and it also included tons of information on the history of Bruges.
For archaeologists in particular, all this became even more interesting in 2014, when the website www.kaartenhuisbrugge.be was founded, a real HisGIS for Bruges. It combines an atlas with more than 25 historic maps of Bruges, historic building research linked to a present-day georeferenced parcel plan ánd MAGIS Bruges. The parcel plan can be queried by address, which leads the user to all kinds of data linked to that spot. These data being MAGIS Bruges with all the linked thematic information and the historical bird’s-eye view itself, data from the city archives of Bruges – both of which are counting on a lot of volunteers –, archaeological data and reports, protection resolutions, links to the inventory of immovable cultural heritage, and so on. By combining these quite diverse existing instruments, a new tool is created that is even more useful to researchers and archaeologists, but also fascinating for whoever is simply interested.

Relevance conference / Relevance session:
This project is an example of new technologies that are used for the benefit of historians and archaeologists that want to visualise their research in a particular case of urban history: Bruges.

The project treated in this paper is a unique co-operation of several partners and combines diverse approaches to historical and archaeological research.
Combining archaeological data and data recorded on historical maps in a geographical information system for presenting or analysing the history of urban or rural landscapes.
New technologies as a research tool and at the same time a way of unlocking research to a large public.