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Ordnance Survey Name Books for Scotland now available online

ScotlandsPlaces has announced that a collection of Name Books which list every place name in Victorian Scotland has now been made available online.

The 1,688 Name Books were compiled by Ordnance Survey field surveyors who undertook the huge task of recording the name of every natural structure and man-made structure that would appear on Ordnance Survey maps. Working between the 1840s and 1878, when the project was completed in the Shetland isles, the surveyors spoke to local people of all classes about their knowledge of their own area, in order to establish the correct form of each name which appears on the map.

The surveyors then added notes from printed histories, gazetteers, directories and dictionaries, making the Name Books a snapshot of the landscapes and townscapes of Scotland. These can now be studied online along with the maps to which they relate.

A free display at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh, which runs until 31 January 2014, will allow visitors to see some of the pages from the Name Books from themselves, and view both well-known and long-forgotten features of the landscape, as seen through the eyes of the surveyors.

A 'rich resource'

Chief Executive of the National Records of Scotland, Tim Ellis, said: 'I’m delighted to be making available online more of the great records that we hold in the National Records of Scotland. 

'The Ordnance Survey Name Books are a rich resource for research into the history of places throughout Scotland and a treasure trove of fascinating insights. I’m pleased to be working closely with our partners RCAHMS and the National Library to add new historical resources to the ScotlandsPlaces website.'

RCAHMS Head of Education and Outreach, Rebecca Bailey, said: 'The OS Name Books are an incredible source of information about Scotland - a nineteenth century equivalent of our modern internet search engines.

'These were the key reference works for anyone wanting to find out about the landscapes, buildings and places of Scotland. This exhibition helps to celebrate the logical evolution of the Name Books - which have been brought in the twenty-first century by being digitised and made available online.'

'When combined with the other material already available on the ScotlandsPlaces website – including hundreds of thousands of photographs, plans and architectural drawings of Scotland’s buildings from the RCAHMS archive, and maps from the National Library of Scotland – it allows for a wonderfully rich study of our history.'

To view the name books, visit the ScotlandsPlaces website.

(Image shows an entry for the Maiden Stone, parish of Chapel of Garioch, Aberdeenshire (OS1/1/13/59). National Records of Scotland. Crown copyright.)

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