Boundaries viewer - Help

This application shows the boundaries of counties, parishes and unitary authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, ca. 1950s-2020. Many historic records relate to counties and parishes, and it is sometimes useful to view these boundaries, or find the specific county or parish that a place is in. It is also useful to compare these to present-day administrative jurisdictions.

Main search process

Boundaries viewer - help information

Boundaries viewer - help information
  1. (optionally) Search using placenames
  2. Choose date of boundaries
  3. Click on area of interest
  4. View results

Specific boundaries shown

In Scotland, the map shows the boundaries of counties and parishes in Scotland at three points in time.

  1. First, as shown on the Ordnance Survey, 1st edition, six-inch to the mile maps, published from the 1840s to the 1880s.
  2. Second, following the Local Government Act of 1947 and before the Local Government Act of 1973 (when these county and parish jurisdictions were formally abolished). In England and Wales, the 1950s map shows historic county boundaries from ca. 1950.
  3. Third, modern unitary authorities, districts, civil parishes (in England) and communities (in Wales) have been obtained from OS Boundary Line with grateful thanks.

As our related further information pages on the History and Legislation relating to counties and parishes describe, these boundaries changed at many times in the past and the boundaries shown here only relate to the part of the 19th and 20th century, and the present day.

Change date of boundaries

Drag the date slider to the lower left to change the date of the boundaries shown.

Change boundary dates graphic

Gazetteer, National Grid Reference, latitude/longitude and Counties/Parishes for searching

The Gazetteer at the top of the map allows you to locate your area on the map using modern place names from Nominatim, as well as by British National Grid Reference - 2,4,6,8 or 10 figures (ie. 'SE12', 'NT1234', 'TQ123456', 'SD12345678', 'SD1234567890'). You can also search using numeric Grid References as Eastings and Northings (ie. '123456,123456'), or by using latitute, longitude (ie. '52.123,-2.345'). Further down, drop-down boxes allow counties and parishes (based on their names and boundaries in the 1940s) to be searched. In all cases, the map will then position to the place, National Grid Reference, county or parish that has been selected.

Background map

By default, the background map shows a modern ESRI Topographic layer. Select the drop-down list to choose a Bing road layer, or Bing satellite or hybrid layers, 1920s mapping from the NLS Historic Maps API, OpenStreetMap, or Ordnance Survey Opendata as background maps.


Hold the [Alt] and [Shift] keys down, and drag with your cursor, or pinch with two fingers on a touch screen to rotate the map. Click/tap on the blue arrow to the upper right, or refresh the page to return to the default rotation.


In the lower-right of the map, the location of your mouse position is shown as a British National Grid Reference, as British National Grid Eastings and Northings, and as longitude and latitude.

Printing and Image Export/Download (lower left)

If you click/tap on the print icon print icon , to the lower left of the screen, then a print panel opens with various options:

At this stage you can also pan/drag or zoom the map image to make sure its covering exactly the right area of interest.

You can then save the image in various formats – JPEG, PNG, PDF, or copy the image to clipboard. It is also possible to print the map directly to a printer.

Supporting information

Read further information on the specific boundaries shown, the history of parishes, legislation, and cartographic information sources on boundaries.

Linking to the viewer

The URL in your web browser address bar changes dynamically as you zoom and pan the map, and when you alter visible map layers and overlays. You may copy or bookmark the URL in your web browser address bar to save the current viewer location and zoom level.


This application uses GeoServer and OpenLayers

Please email for further assistance, or to provide general comments/feedback.