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Available languages — Historic
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Logo. Feature : Historic
One example for Feature : Historic
Used for describe various historical feature.


The historic=* key is used to identify features that are of historic interest. For features which no longer exist see Comparison of life cycle concepts and date namespace.

A very large number of features could be regarded as having some historic interest, but this tag should not be used indiscriminately. Each contributor is responsible for determining whether a feature or event is of sufficient importance to justify use of this tag. In selecting features to be marked as historic contributors should consider factors such as:

  • The degree to which the subject is generally considered to be of historical importance. For example, inclusion in an authoritative listing of historic sites, or a special protected status is not a requirement, but might be considered as supporting evidence that a feature is sufficiently important. There is a list of heritage registers at [1] (note that many of these registers cover natural heritage as well as historic sites). See also heritage=*
  • The size of the feature, and in particular the degree to which it influences the visible landscape. The use of the “historic” tag with large features, such as castles is relatively common. The “historic” tag has also been used to explain human activity that has an impact on the landscape - such as large-scale mineral extraction, or abandoned transport infrastructure.
  • The benefit of highlighting destinations that are of potential interest to a map user. Many historic sites are now important tourist destinations.
  • The degree to which the subject is of interest to the OSM community. For example, the historical transport infrastructure, including roman roads, and disused railway tracks, is often identified in this way

The "historic” tag is always used to identify subjects that relate to human history. Geological features, and palaeontological sites (places containing the remains of ancient life-forms) are described using the "geological" tag. The "historic" tag is not intended for features that are considered an important part of the natural heritage. It should only be used with aspects of the cultural heritage that are also of historic importance. Where appropriate it can be used alongside other tags, such as "heritage", or "landuse".

How to map

Main article: Key:historic The value in the historic tag is used to characterise the type of feature. The range of possible types is open, but wherever possible, contributors will wish to use values that will be widely recognised and are in common use. Wherever possible, it is preferable to use one of the core values that are listed, defined and illustrated in the table below.

In practice the most useful values have been found to be:

  • Commemorative structures: memorial, monument, statue
  • Domestic structures: house, manor
  • Industrial structures: mine, mine_shaft, quarry, mine_adit
  • Maritime features: wreck, ship
  • Military structures: castle, citywalls, fort, battlefield, castle_walls, earthworks, moat
  • Religious features: wayside_cross, church, wayside_shrine
  • Pre-history: tumulus, stone_circle, menhir, standing_stone
  • Transport: roman_road, railway_station, bridge, milestone
  • Other: wall, boundary_stone, well, boundary_marker, folly

If none of the existing core values fits the subject of the historic tag, then contributors are advised to use a value that is already in widespread use. Several hundred values of the "historic" tag are already established in the database.

Even lists as long as these may not meet all needs. Should it become necessary to introduce another value, then the preferred format for user-defined values is to follow existing practice: using international English language, the lower case alphabetic character set, with words separated by the underscore character.

Where the type of feature is not known, or irrelevant, or where the contributor prefers to define the type of structure in additional tags, then it is possible to use a generic value for the "historic" tag. See, for example:

Things to avoid

  • Avoid using the value of the "historic" tag to record either the operator of the facility (use the "operator" tag - Key:operator - for this), or the name of the facility (use the "name" tag - Key:name - to record this).
  • In normal language, the term "historic monument" is sometimes used generally to refer to any historic landmark, and sometimes more precisely to refer to structures that are built specifically to remember and show respect to a person or to a group of people. As a value on the "historic" tag it has the latter meaning. The combination historic=monument should only be used with large commemorative structures. The use of "monument" should be avoided for other types of structure, such as a church or castle, and for smaller commemorative features the tag historic=memorial is preferred.
  • A number of historic features are no longer used for the purpose for which they are historically important. In this case the value applied to the "historic" tag records the original use, and should be used alongside other tags which record the current use. For example: “name=Durham Castle”, “building=university”, “historic=castle”.
  • If a place has had a name change, but some people refer to the place's former name. Use the key:old_name tag to note that former name.
  • The form historic=yes has been used in the past, and implies that the type of structure is defined elsewhere. This approach is best avoided, because of the difficulties involved in reliably deriving the type of structure from other tags.
  • The combination historic=museum implies that the museum building itself is the feature which is of historic interest. In some cases this combination has also been used to identify the location of collections of historic objects, but this approach is ambiguous. Use tourism=museum (Key:tourism) to identify important collections of historic objects. Add historic=museum only where the building itself is of historic importance.
  • The "historic" tag indicates historic significance. It has no implications for the current condition or use of the structure. Additional tags are used to identify structures that are abandoned, disused, or ruined.


See also