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Logo. Feature : Historic
One example for Feature : Historic
Used for describe various historic features

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It has been proposed that this page or section be merged with Key:historic. (Discuss)

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.

Please note that OSM is not collecting information about historic events. We are not mapping places just because something has occurred there in the past, rather we map things which are still observable (a historic battlefield is generally mappable, because you will typically find evidence of the battle). In the case of significant historic events, you will often find a monument or memorial for the event which can be mapped.

You can generally map every observable object, regardless of

  • 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 important. There is a list of heritage registers at  List of heritage registers (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 tag historic=* with large features, such as castles is relatively common. The tag historic=* 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 tag historic=* 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 tag geological=*. The tag historic=* 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. 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 tag historic=* 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 at the page historic=*.

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

Note: if the above mentioned value is in red color be cautious as it means that it was never defined on this wiki. It means as well that it might not be currently really used and that there could be a better tag for that. For example: menhir is not tagged as historic=menhir but rather as historic=archaeological_site+site_type=megalith+megalith_type=menhir.

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 tag historic=* are already established in the database. Please see taginfo.

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 tag historic=*. See, for example:

Things to avoid

  • Avoid using the value of the tag historic=* to record either the operator of the facility (use the tag operator=* for this), or the name of the facility (use the tag 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 tag historic=* 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 tag historic=* 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 tag old_name=* 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 to identify important collections of historic objects. Add historic=museum only where the building itself is of historic importance.
  • The tag historic=* 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