A 40-YEAR research project to map York’s historic past is finally nearing completion.

A series of maps showing how the city developed from Roman times to the present day is set to be published, along with essays by leading academics.

Dr Peter Addyman, chairman of York Civic Trust, had the idea of creating the cartographic study of the city’s development when he founded York Archaeological Trust in 1972.

The project has been delayed by a reliance on the goodwill of volunteers and academics, who have worked as volunteers and therefore had to find time among their other commitments.

However, Mr Addyman said he now hoped the collection of maps and essays would be ready for publication by the end of this year or the beginning of 2014.

The project is part of a European initiative launched in 1955 to create a library of maps for historic cities across the continent. He said such a collection of maps had never before been created in York and it would work as a window for people with a passing interest in the city to see how it has developed over the years.

The basis for the research was an Ordnance Survey map of York created in 1852. The 16 maps detail the streets and buildings of the city when it was founded in about AD71 and in the Anglo-Saxon, medieval and Victorian periods.

The academics involved include the late Dr Richard Hall, former deputy director of the archaeological trust, who completed an essay on Viking York shortly before he died in 2011.

Mr Adddyman admitted the maps had been drawn up with an element of educated guesswork and said mistakes would inevitably be discovered. He hoped the maps would be a stimulus for further research, with people taking up the challenge of proving that they are correct or incorrect.