Help preserve the most detailed list of Britain's place names
Volunteers are being sought to help ensure that historic local places names across Scotland and the rest of Britain will live on rather than being lost forever.
The National Library of Scotland is a partner in an online project which aims to create a complete list of the estimated three million place names on early Ordnance Survey maps of Britain. It is working with the National Library of Wales and the University of Portsmouth on this free, public resource which will be of particular use to local historians and genealogists.
Volunteers are being asked to add information on place names to the GB1900 project website which features digital images of the 2nd Edition Ordnance Survey County Series of maps of the whole of Great Britain, dating from before the First World War. These maps show not just every town and village but every farm, hill and wood – and include names for most of them.
The site's software enables contributors to mark each name by clicking next to it, and then to type in the name itself. They can also add any personal memories they have of the place. To ensure correctness, each name needs to be identically transcribed by two different volunteers.
The final list of place names will be not just the most detailed gazetteer ever created for Britain: it will be the world's largest ever historical gazetteer. It will be released under a Creative Commons licence, making it usable by everyone without charge.
National Library of Scotland map curator Chris Fleet said: 'We are hoping to tap into local knowledge about place names around the UK and would encourage as many people as possible to volunteer information they may have. Through this project, these names can live on rather than being lost forever.'
He added: 'We know just from Google maps searching that there are excellent detailed listings of modern place names available today, but at present there are no detailed listings of historical place names. This is why capturing these historical place names, as this project will do, will be of huge benefit for family and local historians, as well as anyone wanting to use these maps in the future.
'Historical maps are one of the most engaging ways of researching and looking at the past, and the National Library of Scotland is actively digitising and making available our maps online. This project will unlock the wider potential of these maps, allowing their detailed written content to be gathered, made available, and re-used for searching them.'
Professor Humphrey Southall, professor of Historical Geography at the University of Portsmouth, said: 'Names of places are a vital key to unlocking the social and linguistic history of the land. They recall agricultural practices and local industries, changed landscapes and lost settlements. They preserve a rich heritage of Welsh- and Gaelic-language forms from across Wales and Scotland, chart the arrival of English, and illustrate interactions between the two.'
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20 September 2016