Roy Transcription Project Help Page

Welcome to the Roy Placename Transcription Project, organised by the National Library of Scotland and The British Library.

Please read this page before starting to transcribe any names.

This page contains the following information:

Watch a help video on the Roy Placename Application. It covers getting started with an overview of the application, adding a first and then a second transcription, and finishes up with useful related additional information:


Section of Roy Map, showing Leith

The Roy Military Survey of Scotland (1747-1755) is a uniquely important map in Scottish history and map-making. For many Highland areas, it is the most detailed and informative map that survives for the entire 18th century, whilst for all areas of the Scottish mainland, the only standard topographic map prior to the Ordnance Survey mapping in the 19th century. As well as being strikingly attractive to look at, the Roy Map is of value for researching many types of landscape history, including woodland, land-use, roads, settlements and antiquities. Read more about the Roy Map.

We hope that this placename transcription project will provide an enjoyable way of collaborating with others on a useful activity, to gather all of the names on the maps, and to release these as an open gazetteer. The National Library of Scotland will also set the Roy names up as a searchable interface, with links from the names to their locations on the maps.

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

Roy Placename Application

This application has been designed to work on a standard desktop or tablet, but not on a mobile phone. It has been tested successfully using Chrome, Edge and Firefox browsers on Windows and MacOS, but we are sorry that it does not work using Safari. The following sections explain more about our Roy application:

NLS reader login

To use the application, you will need to join the Library. This is free and there is also a Quick online registration form. Read further details on how to register.

Left and Right Panels
Roy placename application

The Roy Map is displayed on the left, and the Ordnance Survey (OS) 1st Edition mapping (1840s-1880s) is shown on the right. This is because we would like you to transcribe both the Roy Map name, as well as the later form of this name from the OS 1st Edition mapping (where it exists). This can help with inputting the correct Roy Map name transcription, as well as helping link the Roy Map name to later forms. Quite often, the Roy Map surveyors recorded names in a phonetic way, and without any systematic checking, so the OS name can provide a useful explanation of some Roy Map names in the final gazetteer.

Links to toggle between Roy Map or OS Map as full screen

On the far right there are two blue links to toggle between showing the Roy Map or OS Map as full screen.

Roy Map: Central Transcription Panel

The central transcriptions panel with the symbol Arrow symbol to move transcription panel to the upper right can be moved at any time by clicking and dragging on the box. This box will be used to record transcription entries. For more information, please read the next section on getting started.

Getting Started - Adding a 1st Transcription

On our Roy transcription page, you will notice there are 2 colours of polygons. We would like to record 2 independent transcriptions for each Roy name. This means, each name is being transcribed by 2 different people.

Roy Map showing different coloured polygons

The colouring system works as follows:

Please read the instructions below, to begin adding a 1st transcription or jump to adding a 2nd transcription / querying an existing transcription.

Zoom Levels

Roy Map showing different coloured polygons
  1. To start transcribing names, please zoom into level 12 or higher. Most Roy Map names are only readable at higher zoom levels. We would suggest Zoom Level 14 gives the best setting in terms of text size and clarity.

Drawing Polygons

Place name Pepper Mills displayed on Roy Map
  1. On the Roy map (left-hand side), locate a name you wish to transcribe. To record a 1st transcription, the name on the map must have no polygon already drawn around it. (Hint: Remember to switch between the Highlands and Lowlands maps to find more names to transcribe).

    Draw Polygon around Roy Name switched to 'On'
  2. From the central transcription panel, slide 'Draw Polygon around Roy Name' to 'On'.

    (Note: Please be aware that after completing a transcription this slider returns to Off. For your next transcription, you will have to turn the 'Draw Polygon around Roy Name' back to 'On')

    Polygon drawn around place name on Roy Map
  3. Click around the Roy name to draw a polygon around it, clicking each time you change direction and double-clicking to close the polygon.

    (Note: The polygon should enclose all of the text, with a little space around it, to ensure the whole name is clearly visible. Occasionally, polygons may overlap for names close together or extending over large features).

Adding Transcription Entries

Central transcription box, showing Roy Map place name entry for Pepper Mills

After closing the polygon, the central transcription panel should display as shown on the right. You can move this panel at any time by clicking and dragging.

  1. Roy Name: In the 1st box, please transcribe the exact name as written on the Roy Map (the left map) with the same capitalisation and spacing.
  2. (Optional Step) Other Roy Name: For the 2nd box, please enter an alternative name from the Roy Map by spelling out abbreviations or adding another possible transcription. If this is not relevant for the name you wish to transcribe, please leave this box blank and continue.
Name from Roy Map in superscript
Name from Roy Map with Long S
Name from Roy Map with initial I
Name from Roy Map with final w
Name from Roy Map with unusual letter'k'
Name from Roy Map showing the use of the 'Ditto' abbreviation
  1. OS Name (map on right): In the 3rd box, please transcribe the same name from the OS map on the right by zooming in and out to look at both map scales. Please note that the right-hand panel will display the OS One-Inch Map at Zoom Level 14 or less, and the OS Six-Inch map will be displayed at Zoom level 15 or more. The map being viewed is shown in the White Box at the top of the right-hand panel.
    Central transcription box, showing OS name entry for Peffermill and OS Map location

    (Important: Due to geographical inaccuracies on the Roy Map, you may have to move around the OS map to find the name as the same place may not appear in exactly the same position on the right-hand map). Use the link on the far right to show the Ordnance Survey (OS) Map as full screen. If you cannot find the equivalent OS name or are not sure if it is the same feature as on the Roy Map, please just leave this box blank and check the 'No OS Name for this Roy Name?' box below).
  2. (Optional Step) No OS Name for this Roy Name?: Please check this box only if you cannot find an OS name that relates to the Roy name you are trying to transcribe. (Note: This is likely for places that were abandoned or disappeared between the mid-18th Century and the mid-19th Century).
  3. (Optional Step) Comments?: Please add any comments if you wish, to explain your transcriptions.
    Central transcription box, displaying cancel/remove feature button and save to database button
  4. When finished, double-check your transcription entries as these can not be altered afterwards. To save the transcription click on the blue 'Save to Database' button. Your transcription will be saved to our Roy Database and a confirmation message should appear.

If you change your mind and do not wish to enter the transcription for the polygon you drew, please click on the red 'Cancel/Remove Feature' button.

Adding a 2nd Transcription / Querying an Existing Transcription

  1. To start, make sure the 'Draw Polygon around Roy Name' slider is set to 'Off'.
  2. On the Roy Map, click on a green polygon.

    (Note: For overlapping polygons, if you select more than 1 transcription, the popup box for the smaller polygon will appear. This will allow you to select other polygons with larger extents nearby. When adding a 2nd transcription for overlapping polygons, please read the popup box to ensure you are transcribing the correct name).

    Pop-up box displaying 1st transcription entry for Roy Map name Pepper Mills
  3. A popup box will appear alongside the central transcription panel, showing the 1st transcription entry. To add a 2nd transcription, follow steps 5-10 from adding a 1st transcription.

    (Important: Please only add a 2nd transcription to a polygon if you have not personally added the 1st transcription for the same name as we would like to gather transcriptions from two different people).
    Pop-up box displaying 1st and 2nd transcription entries for Roy Map name Pepper Mills
  4. Once you have completed the 2nd transcription and selected save to database, the polygon will turn blue. If you click on this polygon, the popup box will appear showing both the 1st and 2nd transcription entries.

    The popup box also includes an ID for the transcription, from the example above, Pepper Mills' ID is 57. If you would like to contact us over a specific transcription, please quote the ID number and email

Additional Information

Transcribed Names Total

Transcribed name totals counter for Highlands and Lowlands layers

The number of names that currently have a 1st and 2nd transcription by everyone, as well as the number of transcriptions you have added, is shown in the upper left. These numbers are divided into the Highlands and Lowlands, depending on which Roy Map layer you are viewing.

Dynamic URL

The URL in the address bar changes dynamically to show your particular map view (including the zoom level, latitude and longitude, and Highlands/Lowlands). You may save or bookmark this URL at any time if you wish to return to the same specific place, or send the link to others.

For example, this is a specific URL for the application zoomed in on Perth:

Error reporting

This application displays dynamic maps and polygons containing transcriptions from the National Library of Scotland's web servers. When you click on the 'Save to database' button on the Transcriptions Panel, your transcription is sent to these web servers, saved, and the updated polygon and transcription should then be displayed back in the application. In the event of network or web server problems, the dynamic maps and polygons may not appear, and the 'Save to database' function may fail. In the first instance, we would suggest completely refreshing the application by reloading the URL in your browser address bar and try to carry on transcribing. However, if the maps or transcriptions still fail to appear, or the application fails to work as you are expecting, please stop using it, e-mail us at and we will aim to fix it as soon as possible.

Search for a specific Transcription ID

Search by Transcription ID

You can search to locate a specific Transcription ID using the input box to the upper right. Transcription IDs should take the form "L66", "H304", etc. When you click on 'Enter', if a matching ID is found, the map should zoom to this specific transcription and display it in a popup box.

Roy Transcription Forum

For the Roy Transcription Project, we have also set up a forum for participants to share their thoughts about placenames, comment on transcriptions and ask others for help.

To join the forum, you will have to sign-up with your email address, create your own password, and then wait for approval. Once approved you will be able to login, view and add posts to the forum.

Submitting corrections

If you require any corrections to your transcriptions, such as removing a duplicate polygon or deleting or editing an entry, please complete this form. Once received, we will update your request as soon as possible. Thank you in advanced for notifying us of any issues, and please submit this form anytime you require a correction to be made.

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If you have any other questions, please contact us at