County and Parishes viewer - Help

This application shows the boundaries of counties, parishes and unitary authorities in England, Scotland and Wales, ca. 1950s-2017. 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.

Zoom in on any location, click on the map, and view the County, Parish, or Unitary Authority covering the place you have clicked on. In the left-hand panel there is a date slider allowing you to change the boundaries shown from the 1950s to 2017.

Specific boundaries shown

In Scotland, the map shows the boundaries of counties and parishes in Scotland following the Local Government Act of 1947 and before the Local Government Act of 1973 when these jurisdictions were abolished. In England and Wales, the 1950s map shows historic county boundaries from ca. 1950. Modern unitary authorities, districts and boroughs, 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 20th century and the present day.

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

The Gazetteer at the top of the map search panel allows you to locate your area on the map using modern place names from Nominatim, using OpenStreetMap names, as well as the Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland (PDF, 135KB), developed by Bruce M. Gittings, University of Edinburgh, with funding from the Scottish Government. The OSM Nominatim gazetteer is stronger for larger settlements and street names, as well as for its global coverage, whilst the Definitive Gazetteer for Scotland is particularly strong for smaller rural features in Scotland, such as farms and hamlets, mountains, hills, rivers, streams, and lochs. The two gazetteers are searched collectively using the OSMNames technology. It is also possible to search by British National Grid Reference - 2, 4, 6, or 8 figures (ie. 'SE12', 'NT1234', 'TQ123456', 'SD12345678'). 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. We gratefully acknowledge OpenStreetMap, and Bruce M. Gittings, University of Edinburgh for allowing us to use these gazetteers, and the Vision of Britain project for allowing us to use these county and parish boundaries.

Background map

By default, the background map shows a modern ESRI Topographic layer. Select the drop-down list to choose Bing road layer, Bing satellite or hybrid layers, 1920s mapping from the NLS Historic Maps API, OpenStreetMap, or Ordnance Survey Opendata as background maps. Double-click on the map or slide the zoom slider (upper left) to zoom in on the map. Hold the ALT and SHIFT keys down and drag with the mouse to rotate the view.


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.

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.