Descriptive words on OS maps
This is a work in progress. Through the Geograph discussion forum we are collecting examples of as many descriptive words as possible used on Ordnance Survey maps, and we want examples of others. We have also worked through OS Mastermap Real World Object Catalogue
. This lists anything which can be represented on these maps, as words, abbreviations, symbols or plans. In this article we have selected and illustrated those represented by words.
Note that maps may have changed since the examples were added, so words mentioned may not be on current maps.
Words on maps are of three types.
- Administrative names of local government areas.
- Distinctive names - proper names of places and of items on the ground.
- Descriptive names - generic words defining the character or use of a feature, for example Burial Ground. Some of these are at the site of antiquities not visible on the ground.
In this article we intend to list descriptive names, preferably by themselves, but also as part of a distinctive or administrative name - for example "Palace" usually appears with its name such as "St James's Palace". We intend to list under each distinctive word.
Ordnance Survey has lists of origins of place names in Britain in: Welsh Scots Gaelic
. These webpages for each word have a couple of examples of placenames containing it, with grid references. We have added brief notes on most such words to give an English equivalent. Some words have different meanings in different languages, or in different areas of Britain.
Gaelic names are being added to anglicised versions unless there is no space on the map, see Ordnance Survey Gaelic names policy
For the Isle of Man, there is Local place names in Manx
indicating which are of Gaelic or Scandinavian origin, also a substantial 1890 book The surnames and place-names of the Isle of Man
. Easier to use, As Manx as the hills
has a list, 3rd Manxscrapbook
is also useful.
For Orkney, words of Old Norse origin, we have used Orkneyjar - Orkney heritage
For Shetland there is Shetland Place Names Project
. It says names "reflect our strong Norse heritage, with subsequent Scottish and English influences."
We have also used Archi Maps UK
in which website you can enter a word or part-word and be given place names in Britain containing it. By subscription, this website has much more information on archaeological sites.
If possible we will give a link to a Geograph photograph of a feature, but until we have one we may give the grid reference at which there is an example.
Many of the words are the expansions shown in Ordnance Survey Abbreviations
. Many objects are represented by symbols on 25K and 50K scale maps, with names on 10K maps.
Tourist features have a symbol and blue wording on 25K, wording on blue background on 50K. Water features have blue lettering, this is noted on some examples in this article.
Historical and archaeological features have Gothic wording if non-Roman (before or after the Romans), Sans serif wording for Roman. In this article "non-Roman" may also be described as "historic".
We will refer to map versions by the scale of the corresponding Ordnance Survey paper maps. Discovery maps 1:50,000 (50K), Explorer maps 1:25,000 (25K). LandPlan or VectorMap Local are digital, versions can be printed at scales from 1:3000 to 1:20,000, most often 1:10,000, and we will refer to these as 10K. Most words on 25K maps are also on larger scale maps, so we only note them as 25K.
On each Geograph photo page there is a map under the photo. This map is a section of 50K scale map from about 2008. Clicking on the map opens a new window with a section of current 25K map. On a zooming bar, clicking the + sign first enlarges the 25K map, then displays a 10K Landplan, then about 1:5000 with extra names and water features but the same plan. From the 25K map, clicking the - sign displays a current 50K map, then to progressively smaller scales including 1:250,000 Road Map. The 25K and 50K maps make extensive use of symbols, and show tourist information.
AIntroduction to words on maps, and scales, is above
|Abattoir||ST6879 : Entrance to the abattoir and Westerleigh Railhead||on 25,50K|
|Abbey||TQ3079 : Westminster Abbey, London||With Abbey/cathedral symbol on 25K, World Heritage symbol on 50K|
|Abbey Grounds||SP0202 : Abbey Grounds, Cirencester||on 25K|
|Aber||SH6172 : The beach at Aber Ogwen||on 25K, Welsh, where river meets sea|
|Abhainn||NM3697 : Abhainn Sgathaig||on 50K, Gaelic, river|
|Academy||NY3584 : Langholm Academy||on 25K|
|Acarsaid||NM0847 : Carrie Anne at the jetty in Acarsaid an Duin||on 50K, Gaelic, anchorage, harbour; also as Acairseid NG5600 : Houses at Acairseid an Rubha|
|Accommodation||SJ9382 : Moggie Lane, Poynton||on 25K "Accommodation Cottages" built for miners|
|Ach||NC3762 : Allt Ach a' Chorrain||on 50K, Gaelic, field etc, shortened from Achadh|
|Achadh||NN0055 : Achadh nan Darach||on 50K, Gaelic, field, agricultural holding|
|Activity Centre||SD9036 : Coldwell Activity Centre||on 25,50K|
|Admiralty Distance Poles||NT8869 : The west-north Admiralty Distance Pole on Oatlee Hill||on 25K|
|Adventure Activities||SD7912 : Burrs Activity Centre||on 25K Tourist site|
|Adit||NZ6620 : Long Acres Mine Drift||on 10K, horizontal access passage to mine|
|Aerodrome||NG7933 : Plockton Aerodrome||on 25K|
|Afon||SH6572 : Afon Aber||on 25K, Welsh river|
|Agricultural Centre||NJ7718 : Thainstone Agricultural Centre||on 25,50K|
|Agricultural College||TL6707 : Writtle Agricultural College, Essex||on 25,50K|
|Aibhne||NC5944 : Lon Achadh na h-Aibhne||on 50K, Gaelic, river, as Abhainn|
|Aifrinn||NH4845 : Burn beside the track||on 25K, Gaelic from Aifrean, church land|
|Ailean||NB3022 : Peat Bog near Baile Ailean||on 50K, Gaelic, enclosure, meadow|
|Aiod||NN0858 : Alltan Mhic Aoidh||on 50K, Gaelic, neck of land|
|Air Shaft||TR3243 : Ventilation shaft near Guston||on 50K|
|Air terminal||NF6905 : Barra Airport Terminal Building||on 25,50K by the beach airfield on Barra|
|Aird||NC7564 : Mulloch an Àird ||on 50K, Gaelic, hill, promontory|
|Airde||NM4753 : 'S Airde Beinn||on 50K, Gaelic, hill, from Aird|
|Airfield (disused)||NJ2665 : RAF Milltown||on 25,50K|
|Airfield||NO4998 : Gliding Competition at Aboyne Airfield||on 50K|
|Airfield||TG2339 : Northrepps Airfield||on 25K Airstrip on 50K|
|Airigh||NB5358 : Ruined shieling, Cuidhsiadar, Isle of Lewis||on 50K, Gaelic, sheiling|
|Airport||SV9110 : St Mary's Airport||on 25,50K|
|Airshaft||SK3380 : Bradway Tunnel Air Shaft||on 25K|
|Airstrip||TQ1761 : Air strip, Rushett Farm||on 50K, Air Strip on 25K|
|Aiseig||NG2197 : End of the Road at Aird an Aiseig||on 50K, Gaelic, ferry|
|Aisir||NN1844 : Coire Chaorach||on 25K, Gaelic, pass|
|Aisled House||NF7320 : Aisled House||on 25,50K Non-Roman|
|Aisre||NG7708 : Coire na h-Aisre||on 50K, Gaelic from Aisir, pass|
|Aisridh||NM8978 : Ridge - An Aisridh Mhòr||on 25K, Gaelic, hill|
|Ait||TQ1877 : Brentford Ait||on 10K|
|Allt||NN1870 : Allt Coire Giubhsachan||on 50K, Gaelic, stream|
|Alltan||NC5167 : Alltan Riabhach||on 50K, Gaelic, small stream|
|Almshouses||TL9863 : Almshouses||on 25,50K Non-Roman|
|Aluminium works||NN1275 : Aluminium smelter, Fort William||on 50K|
|Amar||NN4171 : Amar Srath Ossian||on 50K, Gaelic, trough|
|Amair||NJ1443 : Lonesome Pine by Allt an Amair||on 25K, Gaelic from Amar, trough|
|AMPHITHEATRE||ST3390 : Roman Amphitheatre, Caerleon||on 25,50K Tourist site, Roman|
|Amusement park||SO8071 : Danters Riverside Amusement Park||on 10K|
|Animal sanctuary||ST2707 : Ferne Animal Sanctuary||on 50K Tourist site.|
|Annaid||NG4198 : Airighean na h-Annaid on Garbh Eilean, the Shiants||on 50K, Gaelic, early church or church land|
|Anti-tank Blocks||SN4104 : World War 2 defences||on 25K|
|Aodainn||NM9098 : Bare rock, Beinn an Aodainn||on 50K, Gaelic from Aodann, (rock) face|
|Aodann||NM9982 : Aodann Chlèireig||on 50K, Gaelic, (rock) face|
|Aoidhe||NR9071 : Caisteal Aoidhe||on 25K, Gaelic, neck of land|
|Aoineadh||NM6451 : Aoineadh Mòr||on 50K, Gaelic, morraine, steep crags|
|Aonach||NN4574 : Aonach Beag||on 50K, Gaelic, hill, plateau|
|Apiary||NO7299 : 'The Apiary'||on 25K|
|Approach lights||HY4708 : Approach lights, Kirkwall Airport||on 10K at HY469082|
|Aquarium||SZ0890 : Bournemouth Oceanarium||on 25,50K Tourist feature|
|Aquatic Centre||NZ3958 : Sunderland Aquatic Centre||on 10K|
|Aqueduct||SY0783 : Aqueduct, East Budleigh||on 25K, on 50K in blue letters see NN7358 : Footbridge over Tummel Bridge aqueduct|
|Arboretum||SC2781 : The Arboretum at St.John's||on 50K Tourist site|
|Arch||NM4918 : Carsaig Arches||on 25,50K|
|Ard||SC4689 : Cashtal yn Ard||on 50K, heights in Manx Gaelic|
|Area of Shake Holes||SD9970 : Line of shake holes||on 25K There are other 'Area of' entries|
|Arena ||NS6163 : Emirates Arena, Glasgow||On 25K, Sorts Arena and Velodrome|
|Arsenal||TQ4378 : Woolwich Arsenal Station||on 50K, near former arsenal|
|Art gallery||SJ8495 : Whitworth Park and Art Gallery||on 50K|
|Artillery Range||SR9295 : Abandoned Farm Buildings, Artillery Range, Flimston||on 25,50K|
|Arts centre||HY2509 : Pier Arts Centre, Stromness||on 25K Tourist site|
|Ash||SU4575 : Towards "Ash"||on 25K A single tree on a parish boundary|
|Ash lagoon||NT0085 : Valleyfield ash lagoons||on 25K, ash from power station|
|Assart||SK5869 : Assarts Farm (Meden Vale)||on 50K, farmland from woodland clearance|
|Assault Course||at TL810851||on 50K at 2008, changed later|
|Astronomy Centre||NX4039 : Craiglemine Cottage||on 25K|
|Ath||NM6673 : Ath a' Chaolais||on 25K, Gaelic, ford|
|Attraction ||SO9192 : Brockswood Animal Sanctuary||on 25K as Farm Attraction |
|Auch||NN3235 : Bridge of Auch||on 50K, anglicised from Gaelic Achadh, field|
|Auction Ground||TL3994 : Gated entrance to the auction ground||on 25,50K|
|Auction mart||SD9751 : Skipton Auction Mart||on 25K|
|Ault||NH6742 : The Ault Na Skiah||on 25K, anglicised from Gaelic Allt, stream|
|Avalanche Shelter||NG9137 : The avalanche shelters on Lochcarron to Kyle of Lochalsh road||on 25,50K|
|Avenue||NS5574 : Birch trees, Dougalston Avenue||on 10K, tree-lined street|
|Ayre||HU3677 : Gluss Ayre||on 10K, Scandinavian origin, shingle beach can form dam, Orkney & Shetland, also Isle of Man NX4303 : The Ayres Beach|
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