Place Names Map

Welcome to the Place Names Map. This site was originally set up to explore the origins of place names in the areas formerly known as Galloway, Carrick and Kyle. It has now expanded to include other items such as field names and curling ponds and place names from further afield are also being added.

Place names have been collected and categorised according to their language origins. The different origins are depicted by symbols associated with the place names as shown in the map above.

There is a data set from the Blaeu Map of Scotland from 1654 and this may displayed alongside the other place name data.

We are in the process of collecting field names and their origins are also being investigated. The collection of place and field names is till very much a ‘work-in-progress’ so we welcome any comments and suggestions that you might have.


Many thanks are due to the following people and organisations who have contributed information and analysis to the project:

  • Michael Ansell for input on Gaelic place names and areas
  • Ann Butler for collection of field names and associated artwork
  • Alan James for analysis of the origins of place and field names
  • Rachel Lucas for collection of Borgue area field names
  • Kircudbright History Society for field names and information
  • All of the local farmers and landowners who have provided information about their history and field names

Main Menu

The main menu runs across the top of the window and lets you control the appearance of the map and the data that it displays. The items on the menu will change depending on your user role as described below.

Click on the links below for more information about using the menu.

Map Type
OSGR/Lat. Long.
Place Names


If you are a registered user of the site, you can log in here. You need to register as a user if you wish to be able to edit existing data or enter new information. To register as a user, you can send an email to the administrator and request access to the site.
Non-registered users of the site can view maps and place names but can not change any data.

If you choose the Login menu option, you will see a small window as shown above. If you are registered, you can enter your user name and password, otherwise you can click on ‘Guest’ and continue in read-only mode.

Map Type

You can select the type of map that is displayed in the background. The choices are:

  • Aerial – A satellite photograph view
  • Ordnance Survey – Ordnance Survey maps down to a scale of 1:25,000
  • Road – A standard road map
  • Open Street Map – Community-driven mapping showing roads and terrain features
  • Terrain – Shows a relief map as the background
  • Water Colour – A water-colour rendition of the underlying map
  • Pictorial – A static image of the UK, suitable for viewing larger areas


The Zoom slider lets you zoom in and out of the map. For finer control, click on the zoom slider then use the left and right arrow keys on your keyboard to zoom the map in smaller increments. You can also zoom the map using the mouse wheel, if you have one, or by pinching on the screen of a tablet device.

OSGR/Lat. Long.

As you move the pointer around the map, this field will update with the Ordnance Survey grid reference to the nearest metre and display the latitude and longitude of the current pointer position..


You can enter characters here to search for matching place or field names on the map. If you keep the mouse pointer over the search box, you will get a list of matching names updated as you type. If you select a place name from the list, the map will zoom into that place.


The Appearance menu lets you control your view of the map. There are 3 items that you can change:

  • Map Opacity% – You can set the opacity of the underlying map from 0 (invisible) to 100%
  • Contour Shade% – This controls the amount of shading of contour intervals from 0 (invisible) to 100 (solid colour)
  • River Size – Set to 1 to show all rivers and streams, 2 to show medium sized rivers or 3 for just the major rivers.
  • Show Legend – show or hide the map legend.
  • Settings – allows you to set up your personal map and display settings. Click here for more information on changing the map settings.
  • Clear Cache – Your latest settings, map position and map scale are stored in your web browser’s cache memory. Use this option to clear the cache and revert to the default settings.
  • Map Image – You can save an image of your current map. When you click on ‘Map Image’ an image will be created and downloaded to your web browser’s downloads folder.


The Features menu lets you control which features are displayed on the map. The features that can be displayed are:

  • Counties – Display county boundaries
  • County Names – Display the names of counties
  • Parishes – Display parish boundaries – these are based on the 1st edition Ordnance Survey from around the 1850s
  • Parish Names – Display the names of parishes
  • Rivers – Display rivers and lochs
  • Coastline – Display the coastline
  • Contours – Display contours at 150m (500ft), 300m (1000ft), 450m (1500ft), 600m (2000ft) and 750m (2500ft)
  • Place Names – Points at the location of place names. The point symbols are defined in the legend at the top left of the map.
  • Labels – Display labels next to the place names. The labels can be set to show the English and/or Gaelic vesrions of the place names
  • Fields – Display fields on the map
  • Annotations – There are several different types of annotations that may be displayed. There will be a sub-list of annotation types that lets you turn them on and off.
  • Towns – Display the names and locations of towns
  • Curling Ponds – Show the locations of old curling ponds
  • Blaeu – Display place names dervied from the Blaeu Atlas of Scotland (1654)
  • Custom Features – Display user-define custom features (only available to administrators)

Place Names

The place names are classified according to their language roots. Most names are classified from their Gaelic roots but some are of Norse or Old English origin. Use the check boxes to select the name systems to display on the map.


The Admin menu is only available to users that have been assigned the role of Administrator. It lets you create and edit new place names and map features.

Add New Place

You can use this action add new features to the map. When you select ‘Add New Place’, the mouse cursor will change to a blue dot and the place name editing window will appear.

Adding or editing a custom map feature

You can create custom features on the map to delineate areas of interest. From the ‘Admin’ menu, choose ‘Add Custom Feature’ and you will see the window below. You can also call up this window by clicking on a custom feature that has already been plotted on the map.

The mouse cursor will have changed to a blue dot. You can click points on the map to define the area of your new feature. To end data entry, double-click the mouse.
The data entry window lets you specify the following properties for your feature:

TypeOptional text string to specify the type of feature.
NameA text string to specify the type of feature. (optional)
DescriptionOptional description to provide more information about the feature
Line ThicknessThe thickness in pixels of the border line for the feature
Line ColourThe red, green, blue and opacity for the border line. The red, green and blue values go from 0 to 255 and the opacity is from 0 to 100%. Press this button Colours to see the red, green and blue values for common colours.
Fill ColourThe red, green, blue and opacity for filling the shape
LabelSize: if the size is less than 5, the label will scale its size as you zoom in and out of the map. You can adjust the relative size by specifying a value of greater than or less than 1. If the size is greater than 5, it is treated as an absolute size in pixels and will not change with map scaling. Angle: The angle in degrees for the name text. The angle is measured clockwise from horizontal (0 degrees). Bold: whether the font should be bold or normal weight.
Label PositionG.R.: The OS grid reference for the centre of the label. This field is read-only. Move: Press this button to be able to move the label. Click the label with the mouse and drag it to a new position.
Label ColourThe red, green, blue and opacity for the name text
Label BackgroundThe red, green, blue and opacity for the background of name text. Setting the opacity to 0 will remove the text background
AreaThis read-only field shows the area in hectares and acres of the feature
Area > 300mThis read-only field shows the area in hectares and acres of parts of the feature that are above the 300 metre contour
CalcPress this button to update the area calculations

At the bottom of the data entry window there are three buttons:

PreviewLets you view changes that you have made to the properties before saving the feature to the database.
DeleteDeletes the feature from the map and the database
SaveSaves the feature data to the database

Merging map features

Where map features share a common boundary, you can merge the feaures so that they share exactly the same points along the boundary. This applies to rivers, county boundaries, parish boundaries and custom map features.

Before performing the merge, it is recommended to only display the features that you are interested in, so turn off the display of other map features such as contours, place name labels or any other features that you do not want to merge.

To start the merge process, choose ‘Merge Features’ from the ‘Admin’ menu. You will see the merge window display as shown below.

The merge requires the input of three pieces of information, the start and end of the feature section that is to be merged (known as the ‘target’) and the feature with which to merge (known as the source). Any points on the target feature between the start and end will be replaced by points from the source feature.

The image below shows the process of merging a custom feature with a river. First, a point near the top left of the feature is clicked. Next a point at the right side of the feature is clicked. These points are marked with yellow squares. As the start and end points are selected, the buttons on the merge window change from red to green. When the river is clicked as the source of the merge points, the merge points are highlighted with green circles. The original points are marked with yellow triangles. The outline of the new merged feature is shown as a translucent purple line. Press the ‘Save’ button to save the merged feature to the database. If you want to re-start the merge process, press the ‘Start Again’ button.

Note: If the end points of the target feature (marked with light purple squares) lie within the merge section, you will have to do the merge in two parts.


Clicking on the ‘Help’ item at the right side of the menu will open up this document in a new web browser window.


The settings window lets you change the appearance of the features that are drawn on the map. Initially, the settings are loaded from the web server but you can make changes and save your own preferred settings locally.

For administrator users, at the top of the window, there is a text field labelled ‘File Name’ and a button labelled ‘Load From Server’.

This lets you load settings from the file named in the File Name box (or the default settings if the file name is not specified). When the settings are saved, if there is a file specified in the File Name box then the file will be written to the web server.

The settings window has three sections. There are used to set the appearance of Place Names, Map Features and Text Fonts.

Name Systems

The first section, labelled ‘Name Systems’, lets you set the properties for the place name symbols. The editing screen looks like this:

For each place name system you can set the colour, opacity, size and symbol type. Colours are specified as red, green and blue values. Each value can be from 0 to 255. Here are the red, green and blue values for some common colours.

The opacity value goes from 0 (transparent) to 1 (solid colour). The size value is the radius of the symbol (i.e. half of the size) in text point units. A value between 5 and 7 is appropriate. The type of the symbol can be ‘square’, ‘circle’, ‘triangle’ or ‘star’. The final column lets you specify if the place names for the name system are displayed on the map.


The second section on the settings window is labelled ‘Features’ and lets you set the properties for the other map features, such as county/parish boundaries, rivers and contour lines.


For county and parish boundaries, you can specify the colours of the boundary lines as red, green and blue values and the opacity of the lines, from 0 (transparent) to 1 (solid line). You can also specify a dash pattern if you want to have a dashed line for the county and parish boundaries. Dash1 specifies the length of dash line sections in pixels and Dash2 specifies the size of the gaps between the dashes. Typical values for the Dash1 and Dash 2 parameters might be 10,10 for a dashed line or 10,0 for a solid line.

Rivers, Contours and Coastline

The appearance of rivers, contours and the coastline can be set using the fields at the bottom of the window. For rivers, the width of the line is set for each river and the width setting on screen here is used to determine which rivers are shown on the map. Major rivers are plotted with a width of 3 pixels, minor rivers with a width of 2 pixels and smaller tributaries with a width of 1 pixel. If you specify a width of 2 in the settings window (or on the main menu bar), only rivers with a width of 2 pixels or more will be displayed.

For contour lines, the contours are plotted with a solid line for the contour then the same colour is used for shading the inside of the contour. The opacity setting relates to the shading for the contour fill. Successive contours are drawn over the lower ones so that the transparent colours build up in opacity as more contour layers are drawn.

Towns, Blaeu and Curling Ponds

Different symbols may be specified to show the locations of towns, place names from the Blaeu Atlas of Scotland (1654) and curling ponds. These are configured using the same techniques as described above for the Name Systems.

Field Names

Fields are displayed on the map as shaded areas. You can specify the colours for the field outline and the shading using the red, green, blue and opacity settings as described above. The field text is normally scaled to fit inside the boundary of the field as the map is zoomed but there may be occasions when you want the text to appear as a fixed size. If you would like to see fixed size text, set a size value in the Font Size box and un-check the Scale Text check box. The text size is specified relative to ‘normal’ size for the web page which corresponds to a 12 pixel sized font. A value of 2 would give a 24 pixel font.


The Fonts section allows you to change the appearance of text labels associated with groups of place names or map features.

The ‘Name System’ selector lets you choose which items to configure. This includes all of the different place name categories and the sets of data for Towns, Blaeu Map, Curling Ponds and any Annotations that have been added to the map.

You can set the colour for the font and its background box using the red, green, blue and opacity values. To disable a background box behind the text, set the opacity to 0 as shown in the example above. The text size is set relative to the ‘normal’ web page font size of 12 pixels, so the example above would give a text size of 18 pixels. You can also specify if the text is to be displayed in italic or bold. If you would like the text to scale as the map is zoomed, check the Scale check box. To see your changes, press the ‘Save Font’ button. This wil also save any other settings changes you have made so it is not necessary to press the ‘Save’ button at the bottom of the screen.