Impress your history colleagues!

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Apr 302014
On Saturday I presented at a knowledge exchange event for teachers of Scottish history at the national musuem of scotland.  My presentation focused around how Digimap for Schools can be used to bring historical events to life.  In addition to showing how our new historical maps are superb for highlighting the change in our landscape at then end of the 1890s (as in this illustration of Friockheim junction nr Forfar)
Friockheim now
Friockheim 1890s
I also highlighted how contemporary maps show a wealth of historical knowledge.  To do this I set a quiz.  Having spent many wonderful family holidays in East Lothian with my young children I thought of a particular iconic place then gave the audience 8 interesting historical facts.  I want to share these facts with you so that you can impress your colleagues with some history trivia!  This place:
  • Was settled by an early Christian hermit in the 6th century
  • In the early 15th century King James I imprisoned his political enemies here
  • By the 16th century was the location of one of Scotland’s most important castles
  • Mary Queen of Scots had a garrison of 100 men stationed here in early 16th century (incl French troops)
  • In 1546 the Lauder family rebuilt the small chapel above the castle
  • After the Battle of Killiecrankie, it was the only Jacobite stronghold, until in 1690, 2 years after the battle, they were starved into submission
  • Features in Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1893 sequel to Kidnapped
  • In 2010 during his visit here David Attenborough  described this place as one of the wildlife wonders of the world
Contemporary mapping of this place shows some of these historic features.
Bass Rock annotated
With use of the annotation tools, the island’s history can come to life…….
Bass Rock annotated
We hope you enjoy this example of how your history colleagues could use the service.  If you don’t already have one of our staffroom posters, download one here:

Historic maps in Digimap for Schools reveal landscape changes

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Mar 242014

Eagle eyed Digimap for Schools users will surely have noticed a few changes to the homepage and interface this morning, this is because we have just added historic maps from the 1890s to the service.

This exciting new addition allows  you to view a map of your school, street or anywhere in Great Britain in the 1890s.

These beautiful Ordnance Survey maps published between 1895 and 1899 as the Revised New Series in England and Wales and the 2nd Edition in Scotland, provide an additional rich learning resource and context for exploring how the landscape has changed in the last 120 years.

To view a historic map of your school, street or anywhere in Great Britain, use the new historic map slider (beside the pan arrows) to fade the current OS map and reveal the historic map underneath.


Drag the historic slider to reveal the 1890s maps.

The historic maps have been scanned from original paper maps and made available courtesy of the National Library of Scotland.

Learning resources with ideas for using these wonderful maps across all stages and  curriculum areas are in development and will be available soon.

Christmas is coming early, user guide posted to all subscribing schools.

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Dec 102013

The Education team at Ordnance Survey have been working hard over the last few months to produce a comprehensive Digimap for Schools User Guide.  Over the next week, all subscribing schools will receive a printed copy of the new user guide.  This will give you detailed instructions on how to use Digimap for Schools.

You can access a digital version of the user guide online at:

Also included with the user guide being posted out, is a Christmas quiz, which your pupils can try.  They will need to identify certain places throughout GB and find the grid references and counties where they are located.   It’s suitable for all ages.

Give the quiz a try and please let us know how you and your pupils get on!

Country outlines map now available

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Oct 222013

You may have noticed that we have made a wee tweak to the GB level map view in Digimap for Schools, and have added simple country outlines for the countries of the UK. The idea of this change, is to provide a simple resource for younger pupils to learn, identify and then annotate on the map UK countries and their capital cities.

Pupils can create their own maps, adding annotations to label the countries and cities, to test their knowledge!

GB view level with country outlines


Creating river cross profiles with Digimap for Schools

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Sep 272013

Perse Upper School geography department posted a great video on YouTube this week demonstrating how to use Digimap for Schools to create river cross section profiles.   A fun traditional mapping exercise, the advantage of using Digimap for Schools is that you can easily follow the length of a river to profile the different sections, and profile any river in the country due to having GB wide maps.

Using Digimap for Schools and Excel makes it much quicker and easier than the old way of using a paper map, pencil, ruler and graph paper!

YouTube Preview Image




Punchbowl Valley, Devil’s Chimney, Mousehole & Trap – Lundy place names

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Sep 062013

One of the most fun things about exploring maps, is the interesting and unusual place names you see printed on them.  This morning, while I was testing out one of the new enhancements coming soon in Digimap for Schools, I happened upon Lundy.  I’ve heard of Lundy but must confess to not knowing much about the island.

Panning around the 1:50,000 scale raster, 1:25,000 scale raster and VectorMap Local maps reveals an array of weird on wonderful place names that can tell you a great deal about the island – or make you wonder how some place names possibly came to be so called!

Some of my favourites are: Hen & Chickens, Frenchman’s Landing, Punchbowl Valley, Devil’s Slide, Mousehole & Trap and Goat Island.

Great Britain is full of such place names, what are some of your favourites?


Free Digimap for Schools webinar on 13th June

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May 162013

On Thursday 13th June 4pm – 5pm, we will be hosting a free Digimap for Schools webinar.  This will be the first of many that we aim to run.  The purpose of the webinar is mainly for schools already subscribed looking for hints and tips on how to use Digimap for Schools.  However the webinar is open to anyone interested in hearing more and seeing a demonstration of the service.

There will be an opportunity to ask questions either by text chat or by talking if you have a microphone.

To attend the webinar, please register online at:

Sunny Derby and the GA Annual Conference

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Apr 122013

Despite it not feeling very Spring like yet, a sunny (but chilly) Derby played host to the annual Geographical Association Conference.  Held during the school holidays, it is a great opportunity for meeting geography teachers using Digimap for Schools and to engage others who may not have heard of the service.

Digimap for Schools was represented on the Ordnance Survey stand in the exhibition and a workshop was held on the Saturday.

Friday was a busy day on the stand with plenty of teachers stopping by to either find out about the service or to tell us how much they love using Digimap for Schools and to hear about the latest set of new tools and enhancements.

In previous years, I haven’t been able to get time to attend any of the interesting sounding lectures that take place during the conference.  This year, I really wanted to make sure I got to at least one and so attended the ‘Mapping the route to resilience’ lecture by  Mark Thurstain-Goodwin of GeoFutures Ltd.  From the description of the lecture, this sounded like it would be good example to inspire the use of GIS in the classroom.

Mark’s key message was that mapping should be at the heart of geography teaching and learning, which I  agree with.  Mark used an example of how mapping can be used to analyse and answer questions about how we can plan for future food security with the resources available.

I found it a very interesting lecture and a great example of spatial analysis and mapping.  I was a little disappointed to not hear anything about specific technologies, tools and skills required to carry out such analysis and how GIS can be implemented in the classroom.  I hope the teachers attending found it inspiring and will consider carrying out their own analysis using the same or similar topic in their own area.  Rather than only using the materials and images that will be provided from the talk.  Whilst using maps created by someone else is a good way to examine an interesting topic, I feel that giving students exposure to GIS and enabling them to carry out their own spatial analysis and create maps, will create more enthusiasm and interest for putting maps in the thick of it.

Saturday saw another steady day on the stand for those coming to see what was on offer.  In the afternoon, a 50 minute Digimap for Schools workshop was held where attendees were given the chance to get their hands on Digimap for Schools and have a play.  Delegates used measurement tools to measure their garden, added a photo of the olympic stadium from geograph and used the buffer tool to draw a 1km zone around their own school.

It was another successful conference and from catching up on Twitter and blogs, many found it to be a stimulating and worthwhile.

Latest Digimap for Schools Newsletter

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Apr 112013

The latest Digimap for Schools newsletter, for the summer 2013 term, has been released!

Click the link to view the PDF newsletter: Newsletter Issue 2

Read about the latest Digimap for Schools developments, hints and tips, the proposed new curriculum for England and how you can earn a collectable Ordnance Survey mouse!

If you would like a batch of 10-20 newsletter printed out for your school, drop us an email and we can print them and send them on. Also if you have any comments about the newsletter please get in touch also. Emails should be sent to:

A few lovely enhancements you’ll see from next week

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Mar 212013

You may have noticed we’ve added a short announcement to the service home page indicating there are a few new tools being added next week.  Here’s a taster of what’s coming……..

Buffer Tool

We’re adding an exciting new tool to the annotations toolbar.  Buffering is a common term used in spatial analysis and means identifying a zone of a specified distance around a particular feature.  Our new tool – the point buffer tool – allows you to click a point on the map from which you’d like to draw a circle of a certain size.  You determine the radius of the circle from the point you identify either by selecting a distance from the list we’ve provided or one you enter yourself. The tool accepts distances in miles and kilometres and is a great way to draw exactly a circle of a certain size.  If you like the tool let us know because we could even offer a line buffer tool that would enable you to carry out the same analysis from a line feature you draw – great for identifying features a certain distance from a road or river or a walk you’ve plotted yourself.

Welcome to the font picker!

You’ll be able to add more interesting styles of text next week as we’re introducing 7 font types and a range of sizes from 10 to 96 all in a drop down selector you’ll be familiar with, enjoy!

Label in Miles

Back in January we updated our measure line tool so that you could ask it to return distances in miles as well as kilometres.  You liked this enhancement a lot but of course you instantly said, what about the measurement label tool?  We’ve updated that now too so you can also have your measurement labels in miles or kilometres!

Elastic Photos!

Another feature we added back in January was the ability to add photos as a new annotation type to your map.  While this was a really useful new annotation type, you told us you really would like to be able to place the photo at a position/distance relevant to the pin of your choice.  We listened, and now we have elastic photos!  It’s so simple to do – once your photo appears on the map, pick up the Move Feature tool, then click on your photo and spin it round and round the pin, watch out you might get dizzy it’s so much fun!

Active Tool

Something that catches quite a few of us out is not knowing which tool is active.  We go to pan the map and still have the draw line tool active and start accidentally drawing a new line, much to our frustration!  To reduce the likelihood of this happening we’ve changed our tool icons so that when the tool is active the button background turns white – so there’s no missing the active tool now!

And finally, start again really does start again!

It’s a small one, but we felt the Start Again button should not just take you back to the GB view, but it really should clear all annotations also – it just makes more sense.

As ever we’d love to hear your views on the new tools after you’ve had a play.  Email us at anytime with your feedback.