Historic Britain

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A roman wall in St Albans [1]. Part of the ancient Verulamium site [2]

Mapping of places of historical interest in the British Isles.


To be able to use OSM data to produce maps of the UK showing places of historic interest for various periods in history (e.g. prehistoric, medieval, World War 2).

Current status

There are lots of things in the database marked with 'historic=*....' tags in the database. A simple rendering of many of these can be seen here. We can also put a start_date=* tag for construction dates where known.

With the current data in the database it is not possible to distinguish between prehistoric features, Roman features and cold war relics etc. - they are all just 'historic' so will appear on the map. The idea behind this project is to improve the data in the database to allow separate layers to be produced to show different periods of history separately.

Proposed Tagging Scheme

Note - this is a first guess - please discuss and suggest improvements! Ideally the higher level 'historic:civlization' tag should be easy for a non-expert to understand and make an educated judgement about. The 'historic:period' can then add a higher level of refinement, which may need an additional level of experience to fill in. Therefore the historic:period tag should be considered optional.

(The EH Periods Thesaurus is hierarchical, which means that users should only have to choose one concept: the most specific one they are able to be confident about.)



Middle Ages

Early Modern


Things to Do


  • Decide on a tagging scheme to record the historical data - Key:historic:civilization looks like a promising start, but does not have defined values for UK history.
  • Define a set of tag values appropriate to UK history - if we use the scheme above, we need values of civilization, and period that everyone can use for consistency. (It might be worth contacting English Heritage in case they have an existing scheme we could adopt - Graham Jones will email them to ask). [Note that a version of the current EH Periods Thesaurus is now available as RDF at http://light.demon.co.uk/eh-periods.rdf.]
  • Encourage people to help to update the existing data, and add new items of historical interest to the database.


  • Make a tool to visualise items tagged with 'historic' but without the additional required tags.
  • Make a simple editor so that we can encourage non-mappers to help fill in the missing data (One of last year's Google Summer of Code projects would make a good basis for this, or else we could customise Potlatch 2 to provide a very limited editing capability).
  • Update the map rendering so that the map updates automatically, and has different layers so we can see how we are progressing.

Who is involved

See also