Upcoming training dates with Ordnance Survey

Darren Bailey from the Ordnance Survey education team will be out and about in May delivering twilight training sessions on using Digimap for Schools.  Dates and locations of Darren’s training sessions are:

10th Ruislip
11th Portsmouth
12th Newcastle

16th Harpenden
18th Liverpool
19th Chorley

24th Sevenoaks
25th Swansea

If you’d like to find out more details and register to go along, please email Darren at Darren.Bailey@os.uk

Training events are free to attend.

SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service over the past couple of weeks. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • Aberdeen University (01 Apr 16)
  • Aberystwyth University (03 Apr 16)
  • British Library (21 Apr 16)
  • Brunel University (01 Apr 16)
  • CONSER (27 Apr 16)
  • Cranfield University (20 Apr 16)
  • De Montfort University (20 Apr 16)
  • Directory of Open Access Journals (19 Apr 16)
  • Glasgow University (05 Apr 16)
  • ISSN (13 Apr 16)
  • London Business School (15 Apr 16)
  • Manchester Metropolitan University (14 Apr 16)
  • Open University (14 Oct 15)
  • Royal College of Music (16 Apr 16)
  • Southampton University (24 Apr 16)
  • University of the West of England (UWE) (23 Apr 16)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.


COBWEB to chair workshop at 1st ECSA Conference





ECSA logo

COBWEB will be attending and chairing a workshop at the first European Citizen Science Association (ECSA) conference being held in Berlin this May 19th-21st. The ECSA conference aims at policy makers, science funders, scientists, practitioners in the field of citizen science, non-governmental organisations, and interested citizens. A trans-disciplinary conference, it will highlight, demonstrate and debate the innovation potential of citizen science for science, society and policy, and its role within open science and innovation.

COBWEB’s workshop ‘Data, metadata, quality and visualisation of citizen science data’ will be chaired by Dr Jamie Williams CSci (Environment Systems, UK), with Dr Suvodeep Mazumdar (University of Sheffield, UK), and Dr Arne J. Berre (SINTEF, Norway). 

The session will focus on “Tools, technologies and applications in Citizen Science” from the user perspective – with a focus on acquisition of observation data through sensors and apps. Taking into consideration the observations themselves and how they are stored, shared, processed and visualised. This session will discuss various elements of data, metadata, quality and visualisation of citizen science data.

A panel discussion will focus on these challenges and opportunities with the participation of the audience. A set of questions can be posted (via Twitter with a pre-determined hashtag) to the panel while the session is ongoing, which will also be included in the panel discussions.

More information on the workshop is provided on our events page: https://cobwebproject.eu/events/cobweb-workshop-ecsa-conference 

More information on ECSA and the conference can be found at http://www.ecsa2016.eu

Tags: 

Date: 

Thursday, April 28, 2016 – 12:45
Posted in Uncategorized

Digimap dataset updates: March and April 2016

Lots of datasets were updated in March and April this year, with the majority of updates being to data in the Ordnance Survey Collection of Digimap. We also updated the vector marine data in Marine Roam so that it is now displaying the same version that is available for download through Marine Download; the Borehole data in Geology Download has also been updated to the latest version.

The updates include the latest versions of the 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 Colour Raster products which show the new height of Ben Nevis. The mountain, which is the tallest in Britain, was recently resurveyed by OS and found to be one metre taller than the measurements taken during the previous survey in 1949. If you’re interested in finding out more about the resurvey, and why two different heights are shown for the summit on the maps, the Ordnance Survey have published a blog post which explains the process in detail.

Ben Nevis showing new height

The tables below detail all the datasets that were updated recently in each Collection along with the publication dates of each one.

OS Data Download:

Product Name OS Publication Date
1:25,000 Colour Raster March 2016
1:50,000 Colour Raster March 2016
MasterMap Topography Layer January 2016
VectorMap Local January 2016
VectorMap Local Raster January 2016
VectorMap District March 2016
VectorMap District Raster March 2016
Terrain 5 Contours January 2016
Terrain 5 DTM January 2016
Code-Point with Polygons January 2016 and April 2016
Code-Point February 2016
Code-Point Open February 2016
Points of Interest March 2016
Open Names March 2016
MiniScale January 2016
* OS Street View April 2016
* Meridian 2 July 2015 and January 2016
* Strategi January 2016

 

OS Roam:

Product Name OS Publication Date
1:25,000 Colour Raster March 2016
1:50,000 Colour Raster March 2016
MasterMap Topography Layer January 2016
VectorMap Local January 2016
VectorMap Local Raster January 2016
VectorMap District Raster March 2016
Terrain 50 Contours July 2015
 MiniScale January 2016
* Meridian 2 January 2016
* Strategi January 2016

* Note: these are the last updates to OS Street View, Merdian 2 and Strategi that will be supplied by Ordnance Survey who have announced that they are retiring these products. Whilst the data will still be available to download through Digimap, these products will no longer be updated to reflect changes in the real world.

The data product updates help page is kept up to date with all dataset updates in the Ordnance Survey collection.

 

Marine Roam:

As well as all the changes in the Ordnance Survey collection, we have also updated the vector data in Marine Roam from Seazone Solutions. This brings the data up to date with the latest version of the product from SeaZone Solutions, which is also available for download through Marine Download.

Product Name SeaZone Publication Date
HydroSpatial One August 2015

HydroSpatial One showing Leith harbour

 

Geology Download:

Finally the Borehole data available in Geology Download has also been updated to the latest version available from the British Geological Survey.

Product Name BGS Publication Date
Onshore Borehole Index January 2016

 

If you have any questions about the dataset updates or Digimap please contact us:

  • Phone: 0131 650 3302
  • Email: edina@ed.ac.uk

Chart Roam – printing disabled

We have identified a problem with all print maps generated from Chart Roam.  While the maps on the screen are displayed at the correct scale, when printed the scale is altered and on paper is not what was requested.  The error applies to all map sizes and all print scales, to a greater or lesser extent.  We would advise you to check any prints made from Chart Roam.

As a result we have temporarily disabled the print function in Chart Roam until we are able to implement a solution to the problem. Since the solution is related to third party software used within Digimap, we do not yet have a time-frame for resolution.  As soon as we have further information we will post it here.

In the meantime, we suggest that prints of the HydroView Charts are best obtained by downloading the required chart from Marine Download and printing the required section using alternative desktop software such as PhotoShop.

Apologies for the inconvenience caused.

CSCS Network Event: Citizen Science and the Mass Media (Belated) Liveblog

This is a very belated LiveBlog post from the CSCS Network Citizen Science and the Mass Media event, which I chaired back on 22nd October 2015. Since the event took place several videos recorded at the event have been published by the lovely CSCS Network folks and I’ve embedded those throughout this post.

About the Event

This session looked at how media and communications can be used to promote and engage communities in a crowd sourcing and citizen science project. This included aspects including understanding the purpose and audience for a project; gaining exposure from a project; communicating these types of projects effectively; engaging the press; expectation management; practical issues such as timing, use of interviewees and quotes, etc.

I was chairing this session, drawing on my experience working on the COBWEB project in particular, and I was delighted that we were able to bring in two guest speakers whose work I’ve been following for a while:

Dave Kilbey, University of Bristol and Founder and CEO of Natural Apptitude Ltd. Natural Apptitute works with academic and partner organisations to create mobile phone apps and websites for citizen science projects that have included NatureLocator, Leafwatch, Batmobile, and BeeMapp. Some of these projects have received substantial press interest, in particular Leafwatch (along with the wider Conker Tree Science initiative), and Dave will talk about his personal experience of the way that crowd sourcing and citizen science and the media work together, some of the benefits and risks of exposure, and some of the challenges associated with working with the press based on his own experience.  @kilbey252

Alastair (Ally) Tibbitt, Senior Online Journalist at STV, where he has been based since 2011 working both in journalism and community engagement. Aly’s background lies in community projects in Glasgow and Edinburgh, experience that informs his work writing both for STV and Greener Leith. He has particular interests in hyperlocal news, open data and environmental issues, giving him a really interesting insiders’ perspective on the way that citizen science and crowd sourcing can engage the press, some of the realities of media expectations, timings, etc. and an insight into effective ways to pitch a citizen engagement story. @allytibbett

My notes from the talks were captured on the day but, due to chairing, I wasn’t able to capture all of the discussion or questions that arose in the session. The video below captures the talks, with my notes from these below. 

Click here to view the embedded video.

Musings on Media and Communications for Citizen Science Projects – Dave Kilbey, Natural Appitude

I’m not an expert but I have been working in this area for some time so these are some musings informed by my work to date.

I’ve worked on a variety of projects, which started with a project called NatureLocator – all basically mobile apps, but also website. We try to make it as simple as possible for people to take part in these projects, and we try to do that working with experts so that the data we collect is useful and purposeful. So our projects include work on invasive species, work with the biological monitoring centre. So effectively we work with researchers, organisations, and engaging the public in what we do. And we do that with design of bespoke smartphone apps and websites. In theory Innovative but actually much of this is established – although BatMobile is an exception – as was never really good enough to launch. And public engagement is central to what we do, and from that naturally comes much of our engagement with media.

We spend a lot of time and money on design and usability, because if they aren’t easy to use and appealling then participants won’t use them or use them again. The apps are for contribution, the website is for looking at the data – that’s more of an unprovoked engagement…

So the content on media on communications is this bit, which I’m calling “Smurfs… and the wrong kind of conkers”.

So I thought about why we want media coverage in the first place? It’s obvious but it matters… And these are selfish through to altruistic…

We want this to get the project (and us) noticed – we want to share what we do, and to get the project out there (important for a business too). You want to engage an army of volunteers – you can’t have citizen science without citizen scientists, you need people engaged. You want to attract more funding – crucial in a university context. Success metrics – which include impact – we are measured on how many people took part, engaged etc. and as researchers we are also measured on media presence to an extent. But there is also the aspect of personal satisfaction, and that matters.

On a more altruistic basis is increase knowledge of a concept or problem – we’ve really had that feedback on our invasive plant species work. Citizen science is increasingly about finding solutions to problems – there are all sorts of things like examination of proteins being gamified, so participants contribute regardless of knowledge. We also want to inspire interest, perhaps even the next generation of researchers – we are all passionate about what we do, and want to share that…

But the crux of the matter is that media isn’t always as important in the ways you’d expect.

If your project isn’t ready, the media coverage will be a real pain. There is a project called Ash Town done more of less as a media stunt… The organisation using the data wasn’t ready, the data wasn’t ready… and they had a backlog of verification and that disillusioned participants… The feedback loop wasn’t there but they had to take advantage of that moment. So I tend to be quite conservative about when I share projects, I want them ready.

Quite a few of our projects have had mass media interest and that can be brilliant but they cause a big spike and are largely unfocused… Normally you want a focused set of interested participants. It can be helpful but long term it’s less clear how it is helpful for finding those participants. By contrast micro media and focused marketsing and events, such as conferences, lead to better engagement – and the data from targeted audiences tends to be much better. For example there was a big issue of giant hog weed in the media this summer – we had more records than ever before… but 80% of that data was incorrect. Normally the data in Plant Tracker is 90% accurate. That was due to lots of people finding out about giant hog weed and recording lots of false positive. NOt neccassarily a problem, but an issue for data centric projects.

So we find drip feeding/organic networking works best for us. But as they say “Any publicity is good publicity?”… Maybe…. Mostly we’ve had good coverage,

To use a fishing analogy I see the mass media as ground bating – causing a general feeding frenzy, but then you have to think about how you are baiting your hook to make use of this… So it’s all about how you follow up…

So, with our first app, Leaf Watch, we had loads of media coverage. This project was small scale before with maybe 500 records a year, without the photos or georeference. So we set up a smartphone app with that sort of data for verification interested… And we had 5000 records… But also a lot of noise… 3 bottom pictures, and worse… even a smurf!

So, how to attract publicity… Again, I’m no expert… Often it’s about finding an interesting story to tell that has relevance at this point in time – is there a hook to draw people in, trigger their imagination. For the Uni of Bristol it was often our Public Relations Office that often got us the gig. Me, on my own using my Twitter feed, is going to get the Times interested… So utilise your existing resources in your organisation, they have some great powerful contacts etc. to call on. And I have a colleague who does a good job of researching likely journalists and contacting them directly…

Really much of this feels random, but it’s about a lot of events coming together, and stuff in the outside world… Looking for those opportunities to tell your story to an audience that’s ready to listen… (And do get in touch).

Engaging the Media – Ally Tibbett, STV

I work at STV, and have a background in community projects and volunteering activities. I currently work at STV, also setting up a fledgling news site.

So I wanted to set the context of engaging with media… ANd I wanted to set the scene. Many newspapers are losing 10% circulation, broadcast TV are doing better, but still online transition. But most media company websites are booming – our STV pages collectively reach a few million people a day. So still a lot of reason to get word out there. And it’s worth planning that as you do your citizen science project. You need to think about where you will find the people you do want to engage with. More and more people get their news via social media. Many read news via mobile device. It’s getting more visual with vides, images, infographics. Big interactive graphics are great, but hard to scale to a phone so many media companies keep it simple..

So I’ve tried to set this up as a timeline… How you might engage the media… Before your project. When recruiting participants – who do you want to reach, is it a specific geography? Age greoup? demographic? that should influence both the scial media platfors and media companies you use. What is the benefit for participants? What is the long term goal. Is ther ean interesting back story – and what change will it bring about. And plan out a communication calendar – can you hook into, e.g. International Authors day. Editors are always looking for a new angle on events, or a local angle on a national news story. And even if that doesn’t fit your timing it can be helpful. The other thing to think about is what digital assets can you share/produce. A press release is nice, but a press release with bangs and whistle, with infographics or images etc. That is brilliant – helps journalists know why they should engage now. It’s about the infotainment, not just the data. And it could be as simple as a slideshow, or animated gifs, or data we could map. Thinking about citizen science projects I’ve already worked on, I thought of a project on happiness on different neighbourhoods – we persuaded them to share some data. If you do want help producing maps etc, then there are skilled journalists who can help. We’ll need a Shapefile. And we need that data to be open to support more open interactive stuff…

So, assuming you had a nice launch and a little publicity boost… How do you engage dring th eproject? Well citizen engagement can be more than just research – can they promote project fro you on social media. You need a #hashtga to generate social media buss and help you collate conversation. Can you give progress reports to journalists who covered the launch and those you hope will cover final results. And building that buzz from the outset, can mean there is a story, and help show th eimpact of your prokect. Also, thnk about things that cannot be shared – could be copyright or child protection etc. issues. And as you aggregate content around the hashtag and curate the best, remove anything with an issue. Tools like STorify let you do this.

From my point of view one of the best ways to engage the press is when there is a result, a discovery… The media thrives on a wee bit of controversy etc. So Neive Short from CRESH at Edinburgh looks at mapping alchohol etc. and social issues – she is a campaigning academic, taking her studies to policy makers, and that, for instance, is always of interest. So air quality or air pollution crowd sourcing project would certainly have some of those qualities, those cases to engage policy makers. Too often we get press releases about “we did a study… we might be able to do something in the future…” but we need a concrete story really…

A note on press releases… They are fundamentally quite useful. Do send them out. Keep them short. Include multiple short quotes. have a clear top line, be clear about what you’ve done. Comes with a variety of visuals in different formats – landscape, portrait, infographics, animated films etc. And supplying images in multiple formets – making our job to package it easier – makes a big difference. Is the story important enough for us to send someone out to take new images? Maybe not. BUt actually don’t send 6MBs of materials is not good – so send a press release linking to resources.

So, journalists. Do send releases etc to a generic news email addresses. Use tools like Twitter and LinkedIn to find journalists with an interest in your subject, message them direct. Provide advance warning, reminders, photo and filming opportunities. Don’t do it at the weekend – no TV will come. Do it at a lunchtime on a weekday… PRactical stuff. If no one shows up, don’t worry about it, do send them pictures etc. And if there is one place that you really really want to be featured in, offer it as an exclusive and see it works. Obviously I’d like that to be me… BUt that’s something useful to hold back ni that way…

And, lastly, humour works. If you can find something daft, and can present it in a funny way… Our story “What if Back to the Future was set in Glasgow” is the second most ready story on our website having gone up yesterday. Most read story in the last year on STV was a very tall man who using the bathroom had a hand dryer calamity – that did great and almost made the front page of Reddit. We can be too serious… Be fun. Share the 15 things that happened in this project that were most funny, say… Humour works.

And with that we turned to some really interesting questions and discussion – huge thanks to all who came along and took part in this.

Whilst he was in Edinburgh for this event Dave Kilbey was also able to give an interview for the CSCS Network website, which you can watch there, or in the embed below:

Click here to view the embedded video.

Huge thanks to Dave and Ally for making the time to come along and speak to the CSCS network who I know really appreciated their presentations and sharing of experience. Huge thanks too to the lovely CSCS network team for providing a space for this event and support for our speakers and their travel. 

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Mark Shakespeare400 with SUNCAT

Shakespeare400 is here! On the 23rd April it is the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare‘s death and all this year there are celebrations marking the great poet and playwright’s amazing legacy. There are many events happening all around the country, including performances, screenings, conferences and talks. There is also an exhibition Shakespeare in Ten Acts taking place at the British Library, one of our Contributing Libraries.

William Shakespeare has made a lasting impression not only in theatre and literature but also in the English language, as can be seen from the image below. His works are studied and enjoyed worldwide and this is reflected in the fascinating titles on Shakespeare found in SUNCAT.

Image showing things we say today which we owe to Shakespeare.

Shakespeare. TRF_Mr_Hyde, 2012. Via Flickr – Creative Commons Attribution 2.0. Generic (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/).

  • Borrowers and lenders : the journal of Shakespeare and appropriation.
  • Around the Globe : the magazine of the International Shakespeare Globe Centre.
  • The Shakespeare pictorial : a monthly illustrated chronicle of events in Shakespeareland.
  • A groat’s worth of wit : journal of the Open University Shakespeare Society.
  • The Swan of Avon.
  • Boys of England Stories of Shakespeare : complete.
  • The Upstart crow : a Shakespeare journal.
  • Ivory leaves : A medium of expression for the new intensive study of Shakespeare.
  • Shakespeare and His Legal Problems.
  • “The Graphic” Gallery of Shakespeare’s Heroines. The stories of the several plays from which the pictures are taken … by W. E. Henley.
  • Journal of the Wooden O Symposium.
  • 1616 : saw the death of William Shakespeare & Miguel de Cervantes
  • The London Shakespeare League journal.
  • Shakespeare news from Japan : (Komazawa University Shakespeare Institute).
  • Hamlet’s ghost.
  • HAMNET : Folger Library catalog.
  • An Elizabethan journal : second journal [&] last journal, 1591-1603.
  • The Shakespeare problems / ed. by Alfred William Pollard and John Dover Wilson.
  • The great cryptogram: Francis Bacon’s cipher in the so called Shakespeare plays / by Ignatius Donnelly.
  • Fair Thoughts and Happy Hours attend on you. A Shakespeare Calendar for the year 1905. [With coloured illustrations and initials.]
  • The Shakespearean almanacke : an occasional paper for the study of astrology in the works of Shakespeare and his contempories.
  • “The Graphic” Gallery of Shakespeare’s Heroines. The stories of the several plays from which the pictures are taken … by W. E. Henley.
  • Ariel : the Stratford-upon-Avon messenger.

There are many other serials on Shakespeare in SUNCAT. Why not take a look?


 

SUNCAT updated

SUNCAT has been updated. Updates from the following libraries were loaded into the service over the past week. The dates displayed indicate when files were received by SUNCAT.

  • British Library (14 Apr 16)
  • British Museum Library (06 Apr 16)
  • Imperial College, London (03 Apr 16)
  • King’s College London (02 Apr 16)
  • The London Library (13 Apr 16)
  • London School of Economics and Political Science (03 Apr 16)
  • Manchester University (03 Apr 16)
  • Nottingham University (05 Apr 16)
  • Queen’s University Belfast (03 Apr 16)
  • Royal Society of Medicine (04 Apr 16)
  • Society of Antiquaries of London (07 Apr 16)
  • Southampton University (10 Apr 16)
  • York University (03 Apr 16)

To check on the currency of other libraries on SUNCAT please check the updates page for further details.


SUNCAT Celebrates Dolphins!

Today (14th April) is National Dolphin Day. Ranging in size from 4 ft to up to 30 feet, dolphins are among almost forty species in 17 genera. Find out 10 interesting facts about dolphins and look at our weird and wonderful dolphin titles below. (We have added a couple of whale and porpoise titles, not to leave them out!)

Photograph of dolphins swimming underwater

Dolphins. DaBear Media, 2007. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/)

  • Sonar : the magazine of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
  • Wavelet : the magazine for junior supporters of HWDT.
  • Dolphin superpack for boys and girls.
  • POD news : adopt a dolphin.
  • Splash!
  • Arion’s dolphin.
  • The Daily Dolphin : A serio-comic political periodical.
  • Dolphin dreams.
  • Dolphin insight.
  • Dolphin log : a publication of the Cousteau Society.
  • Whales alive! / Cetacean Society International.
  • Whulj : newsletter of the Puget Sound Chapter of the American Cetacean Society.
  • Porpoise : a poem in 4 sections and in 32 books.

For more dolphin titles and other weird and wonderful serials take a look in SUNCAT.


When is a hill a hill? Mapping, “occular inspection� and the problem of standardisation in Robert Douglas’s General View of the Agriculture in the Counties of Roxburgh and Selkirk

In October 1795, Sir John Sinclair asked Rev. Robert Douglas of Galashiels to “assist the Board of Agriculture� by updating and republishing the County Surveys of Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire. Sinclair had been frustrated at the eccentric diversity of styles employed by the various contributors to the first phase of the Statistical Account, and he now sought to standardise according to the model of his favourite: the Midlothian survey. He hoped that Douglas would contribute his local knowledge to a national statistical survey, by copying the format, structure, and style of a prototype. However, the production of this survey, and in particular the production of the map it contained, illustrates just how challenging such standardisation could be.

Map of Roxburghshire, from the General View of the Agriculture in the Counties of Roxburgh and Selkirk (1798). Photo by the author.

Map of Roxburghshire, from the General View of the Agriculture in the Counties of Roxburgh and Selkirk (1798). Photo by the author.

By January 1798, Douglas’s reports were completed and published, alongside a map of each county, in a single volume: General View of the Agriculture in the Counties of Roxburgh and Selkirk, with Observations on the Means of Their Improvement. To produce the maps, Douglas engaged the professional assistance of the Edinburgh-based mapmaker John Ainslie. Ainslie has been called “virtually the Master-General of Scotland’s national survey�. He was employed to prepare maps of a number of Scotland’s southern counties, at the indirect behest of Sinclair, to illustrate the various Surveys in the late 1790s. In some cases, where the county had already been surveyed in recent decades, Ainslie’s task was merely to copy pre-existing maps. In the case of Roxburghshire, Ainslie used a pantographer to reduce Matthew Stobie’s 1770 map of the county. Ainslie wrote to Douglas in May 1797:

I have perused the coloured map of the County [of Roxburghshire] and has [sic] begun Engraving a new Plate by reducing Stobies map exactly and have put in the villages and Towns from the map you sent onto me. I am at the greatest loss about the Hills. You complain of them being too dark, if I had done them for another county they would have been reckoned too light. I am doing the County of Kirkudbright just now and the people concern’d about it finds great fault because the hills are not dark enough altho much bolder than your map they have actually given me orders to make every one of them stronger before I get them done as they want they will be very dark indeed.

So Ainslie had trouble standardising the topographical features on his county maps, as he found that different counties’ hills required different treatment. In the same letter he refers to the map of Selkirkshire as “totally hills which is the most tedious of all engraving�.

In the preface of his General View, Douglas felt obliged to explain the different cartographic rationales that informed the maps of Roxburghshire and Selkirkshire:

In that [map] of Roxburghshire, nothing is inserted, but the names of parishes, towns, villages, such places as are mentioned in the work, and a few on the confines which jut out into other counties. With regard to Selkirkshire, there being few parish churches or villages, and not many farms deserving particular notice in an agricultural view, had the same rule been rigidly followed, a large track of it would have appeared uninhabited; to prevent which, the seats of the residing proprietors, the places from whence others take their titles, and some of the most extensive farms, are named in the map

In some cases, the imperfect science of hill-mapping led to debates about a hill’s very existence. Douglas had sought advice about possible “alterations and additions� to Ainslie’s draft map of Roxburghshire. He sent a manuscript copy to a number of correspondents, who took it out into the field to test its accuracy. James Arkle, minister for Castletown in the southern tip of Roxburghshire, wrote to Douglas with his own opinions on Ainslie’s map:

I received yours with the Map of the County inclosed which I now return and shall with pleasure give such answers to your enquiries as my information enables me… I have… carried the map along with me thro’ the parish and have compared it with the real situation of the Country by occular [sic] inspection. The line is drawn with ink separating the moor from the green pasture as accurately as possible. We are not of Mr Olivers opinion as to the nonexistence of the hill he has crossed. It lies between Thorlishope and Peel, tho’ not high when compared with the others near it, yet it rises to a considerable height. I cannot say that I am able to mark the hills by name as they appear on your map. If you have a copy of Stobies Map of County, I believe they are distinctly pointed out on it.

“Mr Oliver� had been given first look at Ainslie’s map, which was a reduced version of Stobie’s, and had crossed out a hill. Clearly Arkle disagreed with his assessment, on the basis of his own subjective “occular inspection.� The hill in question lay northeast of Thorlishope, and is represented by a faint fingerprint-like symbol on Stobie’s map.

Detail from Matthew Stobie's Map of Roxburghshire or Tiviotdale (1770). The hill in question is the section of shading north of Thorlishope. Image: NLS.

Detail from Matthew Stobie’s Map of Roxburghshire or Tiviotdale (1770). The hill in question is the section of shading north of Thorlishope. Image: NLS.

It is absent from the map ultimately published with Douglas’s General View, whereas the nearby hills northwest of Dawstane are clearly defined on it. It was not until later in the nineteenth century that the Ordnance Survey used contours to standardise hill-sketching.

In the meantime, the status and depiction of hills varied from map to map, depending on the criteria and propensities of the mapmaker(s), or on the subjective “occular inspection� of a chain of informants. This meant that, on the maps of the Statistical Account, a hill of a certain height in one county was not necessarily a hill in another. Therefore, Sinclair’s desire for standardised surveys according to one archetypical model was necessarily thwarted.

 

 Philip Dodds, School of Geosciences University of Edinburgh
Twitter: @PA_Dodds

We hope you have enjoyed this post: it is characteristic of the rich historical material available within the ‘Related Resources’ section of the Statistical Accounts of Scotland service. Featuring essays, maps, illustrations, correspondence, biographies of compliers, and information about Sir John Sinclair’s other works, the service provides extensive historical and bibliographical detail to supplement our full-text searchable collection of the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ Statistical Accounts.

Sources

Robert Douglas’s correspondence, quoted here, is in the National Library of Scotland: MS.3117.

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