Digital mapping and industrial archaeology

Page under development but feedback is welcomed

Please note that the data offered through this site is not an application in its own right and can only be visualised if you are already a user of digital mapping software

Maps and plans have always been significant tools for the industrial archaeologist. The large scale Ordnance Survey maps of yesteryear often show the locations of industrial sites such as mines which have long since been erased from the modern landscape or which have become hidden beneath rampant vegetation. The problem with old maps produced before the British National Grid was introduced is that they are large, on paper which is vulnerable in the field, and it may be difficult to pinpoint features with precision because of the absence of the National Grid and the rehabilitation of industrial sites. Modern maps whilst very accurate, may not show the remains of former industrial sites, so it is useful to combine old with new. Digital mapping is the ideal tool to achieve this combination, and has the advantage that locations can be uploaded to portable GPS units, tablets or smart phones to assist the search for lost or hidden industrial sites on the ground. In the field, locations can also be marked using portable GPS devices and added to existing overlays to update previous information.

Reproduced from the 1908 Ordnance Survey map

Screenshot with none of the active functionality associated with
the Memory-Map application

Having an interest in maps, industrial archaeology, and mines in particular, I have been using digital mapping to plot information sourced from old maps and other documentary sources onto modern digital Ordnance Survey maps. The data is applied to the map image as an overlay which is independent of the scale of the displayed map, so it is possible to zoom in and out or switch map scales without losing the position of the marked feature. Importantly for field work, the locations can be uploaded to portable devices equipped with GPS to assist the precise location on the ground to within a few metres. Software such as GPS Utility or OziExplorer is also available to calibrate images of old pre-National Grid maps or scale plans and render them much easier to interpret by applying the National Grid. As a schoolboy, I was taught to define a location using a six figure grid reference but digital mapping supports ten figure referencing which improves the potential resolution from 100 metres to 1 metre permitting more precise location of features, though it must be remembered that hand held GPS devices are not capable of this level of accuracy.

Having spent many hours interpreting old maps, books and documents, I have extracted location data and created overlays covering places of interest in a number of mining areas. I would like to share this information, so publish the results of my researches in the format of map overlays showing mine locations, sometimes with the positions of shafts and other associated facilities added where these can be identified with sufficient accuracy.

PLEASE NOTE: If you wish to display the overlays, you must buy your own digital mapping first.

It is important to note that the overlays have no functionality of their own, and have to be used in conjunction with legally purchased digital mapping software

There are a number of digital OS mapping products for the UK available today. I use Memory-Map.

The overlays are presented in the proprietary Memory-Map .mmo format and also in the generic GPS eXchange (.gpx) format which may be uploadable to maps from Anquet, SatMap, TrackLogs and others, but there is a possibility that these may not display all the metadata which I have included on Memory-Map (.mmo) overlay objects. The areas I have researched so far include Cornwall, Devon , Mendips, Exmoor, Brendon Hills, Derbyshire, Shropshire, Forest of Dean, Cumberland (Millom/Hodbarrrow), the Bristol coalfield and the SouthYorkshire coalfield. I am currently wading through Eric Tonks's books on the ironstone quarries of the Midlands to map those sites and their associated tramways which have virtually disappeared from the landscape.

Guidance on the use of the overlays with digital mapping applications

References used in the compilation of the overlays

Overlays in Memory-Map format

Overlays in GPX format


Comments and questions may be addressed to I canot guarantee an instant reply but will respond as soon as possible.