2. Project Description
The Historic County Borders Project is digitising the borders of the historic counties of the United Kingdom at a scale of 1:100000 and making them available for public and commerical use.
The 92 historic counties of the UK form the most natural geographical framework in many contexts, particulary in the fields of history, geography and education. For example:
The historic counties remain important cultural and geographical entities. Hence, the geography provided by the historic counties can also be made use of in many contemporary contexts:
However, the geography of the historic counties has been underused in all of these fields. A major reason for this has been the lack of a digitised dataset of the historic county borders, essential in the era of computerised mapping and GIS. The Historic County Borders Project aims to put right this deficiency.
The Historic County Borders Project is closed based on the Historic Counties Standard, which provides a comprehensive definition of the names, areas and borders of the historic counties of the UK. Users of the data from the Project are advised to become familiar with the Standard.
The historic county borders were digitised, where possible, based on the primary source data
as defined within the Historic Counties Standard:
Where this was not possible, reference was made to one or more of the secondary sources of data as defined within the Historic Counties Standard. Where secondary source data was used to define some or all of a segment of border, this is noted in the Notes field of the Historic County Borders Database.
Land borders. In general these have been transcribed from the primary source data onto modern, georeferenced mapping and then digitised. Even at the time of the compilation of the primary source data many land-based borders were 'defaced' (i.e. could no longer be identified by features on the ground). Many further stretches of border have become defaced since the compilation of the primary source data. Nonetheless, it is usually possible to transcribe defaced stretches of border to high accuracy onto modern mapping. Where this has been problematic, this is noted in the Notes field of the Historic County Borders Database.
Non-Esuarine Watercourse borders. According to the Standard: " where a non-estuarine watercourse forms the border between two historic counties, the border between the two historic counties shall be considered to lie at the centre of the watercourse (normal winter flow levels) for the time being. Hence, for natural and gradual changes to the watercourse, the border shall be considered to change with the course of the watercourse. Changes to the watercourse due to man-made activities or flooding shall not be considered to alter the border: the old watercourse shall remain the border."
From a comparison between the primary source data and modern mapping, it is usually clear whether the course of a watercourse has been altered by man-made actvities or flooding. If so, then the border from the primary source data has been retained as the border. This fact is noted in the Notes field of the Historic County Borders Database. If the course of the watercourse has not been altered by man-made activities or flooding, then the border has been digitised from the centre of the watercourse on modern mapping (this may be slightly different to that on the primary source data due to natural, gradual changes in the course of the watercourse).
Estuarine watercourse borders. According to the Standard: "where an estuarine watercourse forms the border between two historic counties (i.e. below the normal tidal limit of a watercourse, Point C), the border between the two historic counties shall be considered to be the centre channel at low water. "
This convention has been followed, based on the centre channel at low water from modern mapping.
Coastal borders. According to the Standard:
At present the digitised borders follow the MHW line. It is intended to provide alternative borders out to the MLW line as a future development of the project. The MHW line has, of course, changed significantly since the primary source data was compiled and, indeed, is continually changing. That presented in the dataset was obtained from modern mapping in comparison with primary source data. This comparison was essential in establishing the points at which the historic county borders meet the present day MHW line. No problems result where land has been lost to the sea. Where land has been accreted from the sea, then the Standard's guidance (Section 4.9) on accreted land is followed. In a few cases this has required the definition of a short section of historic county border across accreted land. Where this has been necessary it is denoted in the Notes field of the Historic County Borders Database.
In using the MHW line as the basis for defining the seaward extents of the borders in this dataset, a degree of pragmatism has been employed. In some areas the MHW does not provide a single unbroken line along a section of coast, for example in marshy areas which the MHW line traces many, small, closely spaced islands. In such areas, only the outermost line of the coast is traced by the digitised border (i.e. not every such small 'island' is separated digitised as a polygon). The guiding principle here is that no piece of land above the MHW line should be excluded from the digitised dataset.
As noted above, where an estuary meets the sea, then the historic county border is denoted as at the centre of the channel at low water above 'Point B'. The border at Point B has been joined to the digitised MHW line for the surrounding coast by extending the border from Point B along a line perpendicualr to the flow of the river until it meets the MHW line. There are several places in the UK where the Point B convention is inpractical. In such cases, another convention has been adopted and is described in the Notes field on the Historic County Borders Database.
Offshore Islands. These are digitised as separate polygons but associated with the digitised polygon for the main body of the historic county to which they belong.
Detached Parts. According to the Standard: "Following historical precedent, detached parts of historic counties shall be considered to be associated with both their parent historic county and the historic county in which they locally lie (their 'host' county). "
This means that two sets of areas are defined by the Standard:
The data currently released relates to Definition A: detached parts are considered to be part of their host historic county. Definition A has been prioritised since it will have a wider, more general-purpose applicability than Definition B. Note that the Maelor Saesneg area of Flintshire, the Furness area of Lancashire and the Cumbernauld–Kirkintilloch area of Dunbartonshire are not considered detached parts by the Standard and, hence, these areas are represented in Definition A and the released data. Data relating to Definition B (i.e. including detached parts) will be released in the near future.
Nov 2010: Data released in KMZ and SHP format for the Historic Counties of England and Wales (Definition A from the Historic Counties Standard)
|| | | | | | ||