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Scotland's place names revealed

The historical books which contain every place name in Victorian Scotland are now available online and are featuring in a display that opens today.

Almost 1,700 Ordnance Survey Name Books, held in the National Records of Scotland, have now all been added to the ScotlandsPlaces website, where they can be searched by the public. The books are also being linked to the relevant Ordnance Survey map to allow connected searching for the first time.

The name books were created by the Ordnance Survey’s field surveyors as they mapped Scotland from the 1840s until 1878, when they completed their work on Orkney and Shetland.

The surveyors compiled name books to record information about the names of every natural feature and man-made structure that was to appear on the Ordnance Survey maps. They relied on knowledgeable locals of all classes to supply them with accurate names. Their instructions were to consult landowners and their agents first, then other people of standing such as parish ministers and school teachers. In practice, and especially in remoter areas, they turned to tenants, shepherds and labourers. In Gaelic-speaking areas they sometimes worked through interpreters.

The surveyors added notes from printed histories, gazetteers and directories, making the name books a snapshot of the landscapes and townscapes of Scotland in the nineteenth century. They can now be studied
online for the first time, along with the maps to which they relate.

Date: 
Thursday, December 5, 2013