Roy Military Survey of Scotland, 1747-1755

Gazetteer information page

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The Roy Military Survey of Scotland transcription project took place between February and July 2022. Collectively, over 180 people worked on the project and 33,523 names were captured: 16,425 for the Highlands and 17,097 for the Lowlands.

This was a collaborative project organised by the British Library, who hold the original Roy mapping, and the National Library of Scotland.

The following sections provide further information on the Roy Gazetteer:

Search the Gazetteer

You can search in two ways:

  1. Search on Highlands or Lowlands names viewing distributions and places on a map
  2. Browse all Highlands or Lowlands names in a table, linking through to the map

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.

Purpose

The primary aim of the project was to record all of the names and their geographic locations on the Roy Military Survey Maps of Scotland. These names on the Roy Map were not just for settlements, but also for natural features such as glens, lochs, and mountains, as well as other man-made features such as roads, kirks and mills. The name of a place either related to or nearby the Roy name was also transcribed from the Ordnance Survey one-inch and six-inch to the mile 1st edition maps (1840s-1880s). The OS Name makes keyword searching more effective, as these OS Names are often more similar to the modern names people today may search on. The OS Name can also help to interpret the approximate location of the Roy Name. A Comments field recorded notes about the Roy or OS Name, often to help with interpretation or for explaining the linkages between the Roy and OS Name.

This page explains the format of the Roy Gazetteer - the fields used, their main content, and the transcriptions workflow that created them.

Field List

Field NameDescription
IDUnique ID for the entry. Prefixed with H (Highlands) or L (Lowlands) and a running number
RoyNameThe exact name on the Roy Map - see Roy Map Name below for further details
OSNameThe exact name on the OS 1st edition mapping - see Ordnance Survey Name below for further details
CommentsAny additional notes about the names above
ParishThe parish the RoyName was located in (1840s-1880s)
CountyThe county the RoyName was located in (1840s-1880s)
ReferenceThe Roy Military Survey sheet part or dissection(s) the name falls on - see Roy Reference for further details
CoordinatesThe point coordinates of a polygon traced around the Roy Name. These coordinates are in latitude/longitude (WGS84 / EPSG:4326) format.

Further Notes about the Roy Map Name and OS Name

Roy Map Name

Name from Roy Map in superscript
Name from Roy Map with Long S
Name from Roy Map showing Cotton Do. abbreviation

Roy Name - Common Abbreviations

BBridge
CCastle
EEast or Easter
ErEaster
IIsland
IdIsland
KKirk
LLoch
MMill
NNether or North
NethNether
NrNether
PtPoint
RRiver
SSouth
UpUpper
UprUpper
WWest or Wester or Water
WrWester or Water

Ordnance Survey Name

Roy Reference

Map showing the numbering of the Roy Map Strips

The Roy Reference is the unique identifier for the particular part of the Roy Map, incorporating a Strip Number (1-38), a Section Number (1-8) and a Part (a-f).

Transcription workflow

  1. The first phase of the project asked for transcriptions of the Roy Name and OS Name from two independent people.
  2. Where the two names differed, these were put out for second phases of editing and correction: first for the Roy Names and secondly for the OS Names.
  3. A third phase tried to identify OS Names where these were missing from the original RoyName transcriptions.
  4. A fourth phase edited and merged the comments into a clear and simple statement.

As the phases progressed, it became increasingly easier to correct the Roy Name based on the later OS Names and Comments. Many subsequent corrections have focused on:

Download

We have made available the Roy Gazetteer for onward re-use and download. The Gazetteer data is available in CSV and GeoJSON formats for each of the Highland and Lowland regions:

These extracts were all taken on 25 August 2022.

Each of these links will open a file that can be saved locally. For the GeoJSON files, please change the file extension from *.js to *.geojson.

Please see our guide on Opening Map Datasets in QGIS for advice on how to use these files within the free QGIS desktop software.

You can also read details of the fields in the files above, along with Notes about the Roy Name and OS Name.

You can also view related details of the Roy dataset and onward re-use, on our Data Foundry Roy Gazetteer page.

Corrections

If you would like to suggest edits or corrections to any of the content of the Roy Gazetteer, please contact us at maps@nls.uk with the subject line 'Roy Gazetteer Correction'. We need to know, at the very least, the Roy ID number and the specific field content that needs to be corrected, following the Field List.

Further Information