10 best history apps for iPhone and iPad

It's an atmospheric, comprehensive guide to this renowned landmark, but there's a price to be paid: the app weighs in at a gargantuan 1.4GB, making it the largest app here.

6. Streetmuseum: Londinium

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Take a trek around London and discover its Roman origins

Price: Free
Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad

Street Museum

This is the second 'Streetmuseum' app from the Museum of London, designed to act as an interactive guide to accompany a walking tour around central London. As its names implies, this app focuses on the city's Roman origins.

Londinium's fate was tied in with Rome's occupation of Britain - it flourished during the occupation before fading into obscurity when the Romans left - and an introductory series of slides provides an overview of its entire timeline. Then it's off to an interactive map where ancient landmarks, including the border of the old city walls, are overlaid on London's modernday streets.

Tap on points of interest - represented by purple and red pins - to uncover artefacts or check out landmarks with the help of photos, sounds and even video clips courtesy of the History Channel. Overall, it's a well-presented app, simple to navigate and, of course, a great advert for the Museum of London.

7. Today in History

Find out key historic events, births and deaths on any day

Price: Free
Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad

Today in history

The problem with many 'today in history' apps on the store is that they tend to be Anglo-centric, so of little use to those of with a wider interest. There's no danger of that with this app, which spreads around 100,000 historic events worldwide across the year, plus has room for notable births, deaths and holidays for good measure.

The presentation is basic, but easy to read and follow. By default the current day is selected, but you can easily switch to any day of the year, with the selected date's events listed in chronological order, most recent first. Births, deaths and holidays are accessible from their own buttons, where you'll also find a search tool, allowing you to tie specific events to the day they occurred.

The events aren't covered in much depth - a sentence or two typically - but tap one and you'll be given a list of related search terms. Tap one to view its corresponding Wikipedia entry. The app also has options for commenting on events and adding your own events. There is a separate iPhone version.

8. The British Monarchy

Your one-stop guide to the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland

Price: 69p / 99¢
Works with: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad


This app provides a comprehensive guide to each of the monarchs who've reigned over England and Scotland since the 8th Century. You can browse (or search) by name or view a chronological list, and tapping a monarch reveals key details and a lengthy biography taken from Wikipedia.

From here you can add the monarch to a list of favourites for easy access later, plus attach your own notes. Tap the thumbnail image in the top right-hand corner to view more images and web links through Google searches. It's a handy reference guide to anyone who loves their political history - the biographies are detailed, and will keep you occupied for hours, although it's a shame they don't include all the citations found in the original Wikipedia articles. Hopefully the lack of Welsh representation here might be rectified in a future update.

9. Armchair Archaeologist

A guide to the major archaeological sites and museums in Britain

Price: £2.99 / $4.99
Works with: iPad

Armchair Archaeologist

Even the best apps can't be a substitute for the real thing, which is where Armchair Archaeologist comes in. This - inspired by Channel 4's Time Team - lists major sites of historical and archaeological significance stretching back from modern times to the Palaeolithic era, using Google Maps to help you locate them ahead of a visit.

The app allows you to browse by place - TV sites, monuments or museums - or eras. Choosing an era lists all places from that period - tap one to see it on the map. Each era also comes with Info and Timeline tabs to give you a more rounded view.

If you're looking for detailed information about each site you'll be disappointed - a sentence or two summary is as good as it gets, but Armchair Archaeologist works without an internet connection, so can be used on the road, and acts as a handy launching pad.

10. MFA Coins

View ancient coins in exquisite detail on your iPad

Price: Free
Works with: iPad

MFA Coins

Coins are a valuable historic resource, particularly with older civilisations when other evidence is thin on the ground. Boston's Museum of Fine Arts has an impressive collection of ancient coins and this app does a first-class job of displaying them, providing a template for other virtual exhibitions to follow.

The collection contains hundreds of coins, divided into two categories. Grecian covers all pre-Roman civilisations, so organises its coins geographically; Roman coins are displayed chronologically. Tap one to view it up close - both sides of each coin have been photographed in high resolution, allowing you to zoom in to appreciate their beauty and fine detail. You can also view an information panel providing key details and some historical context. There's also a timeline view available for reading up a quick history of coins.