Roy Military Survey of Scotland, 1747-55 - Help

decorative graphic illustrating this particular set of maps

This application allows the Roy Military Survey of Scotland (1747-1755) to be searched as a seamless layer.

Main search process

Use the map controls or the gazetteer, National Grid Reference or county / parish search methods to zoom in on your area of interest. The Roy Military Survey maps appear as a seamless layer.

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.

Roy Gazetteer

Watch a video on how to search the Roy Gazetteer:

Our Roy gazetteer allows you to search all the place-names on Roy's Military Survey of Scotland. There are over 33,000 names – you'll find mountains and rivers; mills, churches and castles; towns, villages and farms.

You can search for a placename using the Search Panel at the top left of the screen. As with our other map viewers, this Search Panel allows you to search by modern placenames, National Grid References, and by county/parish. Below these, the Search Roy Highlands / Roy Lowlands Names search box allows you to search by keyword, name or part of a name.

Roy's map is in two sections – Highlands and Lowlands – and you will need to select one of these before searching. You can switch between the two by clicking on the heading just above the search box or in the Map Layer box at the bottom left of the screen.

Once you've selected the Highlands or Lowlands layer, type a name or keyword into the search box and click on the ‘Search' button (or press Enter).

This will return a list of all the names on the map that include your placename or keyword.

In the left column are the names that appear on Roy's map. Beside them are nearby or equivalent names that are shown on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition map, published in the mid-19th century. This can be useful because names and spellings can vary and change from one century to the next.

As well as the list of place-names, there is also a distribution map showing their locations throughout the country, marked in blue.

If you hover over a name in the list, you will see it highlighted in orange on the distribution map. Selecting a name in the list will take you to the relevant name on Roy's map. Clicking on a name on the map will bring up some more information in a popup box, such as the parish, county and the nearby or equivalent name that appears on the Ordnance Survey 1st edition map.

This popup box also includes the Roy Military Survey map reference, which relates to a particular map strip and sub-division. This is also shown at the bottom right of the screen (Roy Strip/Section) for the Roy Section that your cursor is over. You can also click on the Roy Map away from any placename and the Roy Map Reference will appear in a popup box.

The search panel itself is expandable by dragging the lower right corner, or you can hide it by clicking the cross at the top. Click on ‘Search placenames' to get it back at any time.

The keyword or name you have searched for is also added to the URL, so this address (and a particular search) can be copied and saved or forwarded to someone else if you want to share your search results.

You can also browse all the names that appear on Roy's map. Click on the link below the search box (Search All Names – Highlands and Lowlands) to see a full list of the names on both the Highland and Lowland layers on the Gazetteer Browse Interface - All Names page. These are listed alphabetically and clicking on any of these Roy names will take you back to the relevant section of the map.

The other link below the Roy name search box allows you to view a list of names on a particular part of the map. Zoom into an area of interest and click on Show all names on the part of the map on screen. This will return a list of just those Roy names that are shown on the part of the map that you're looking at. Again, you can click on the names in this list to view them on the Roy map.

To compare an area on Roy's map to another (later) map, use the links near the bottom right of the screen to switch to our Georeferenced maps / Side by side / Swipe viewer. These will open in a new tab so you can easily return to your search screen.

Click on Clear in the gazetteer box at any time to start a new search.

Background map

There were two separate maps for the Highlands and the Lowlands. By default, the background map shows the Roy Highlands map. Select other radio button options in the list to the left to choose the Roy Lowlands map, or other layers, such as the 1920s mapping of Scotland, Ordnance Survey Opendata, OpenStreetMap mapping, or Bing satellite imagery hybrid or map views as background maps. Double-click on the map or click the zoom slider (upper left) to zoom in on the map. Google map and satellite layers are no longer available as the OpenLayers software we use does not support them, and also because the Google terms and conditions discourage the overlaying of other maps on top of Google layers.


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.

Illustration of rotation graphic

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.

Obtaining images of the Roy map or permission to reproduce it

Digital images of the Roy Military Survey maps may be obtained through SCRAN. The Roy Military Survey maps of Scotland are owned by the British Library, and their permission must be sought if you wish to reproduce or publish the maps. Please contact the British Library to do this.

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.


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, both in decimal and degrees, minutes and seconds forms.

Further information

Further information on the background to the Roy Military Survey, its content, original form, surveying methods and references for further reading. A paper (PDF - 0.5 Mb) describing the Roy Military Survey map of Scotland (1747-1755): mosaicing, geo-referencing, and web delivery is also available from the online journal e-Perimetron, vol.2 (2007).


This application uses OpenLayers and MapTiler.

We have released the original code behind this viewer on Github for onward use. We hope that other libraries, archives and institutions may benefit from the code in making available their geographical collections.

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