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Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Revision Programme

The programme of the Ordnance Survey’s Archaeology Division (c.1947-1983) was created to provide information regarding archaeological sites to be published on Ordnance Survey maps (Philips 1960; Seymour 1980: 240, 340-343; Frodsham, Topping and Cowley (eds) 1999). Having opened an Edinburgh office in 1958, and an Inverness office from 1964, the Division in Scotland published a brief summary of their progress annually in Discovery and Excavation in Scotland from 1958 until 1982. The responsibilities of the Archaeology Division in Scotland and the records of their work were transferred to RCAHMS in April 1983 (RCAHMS 1984: ix).

The main product of this programme consists of c.55,000 record cards organised by 100km squares of the National Grid, recording c.36,000 sites, monuments or finds. Each received its own card arranged in a National Grid numbering sequence along with a short summary description (akin to a basic desk-based assessment) based on literary sources, written by an OS Recorder. To this was appended an account of its state at the time of the OS Investigator’s field visit or visits.

Where appropriate a detailed sketch was added and one or more photographs of a quality good enough to aid identification. A secondary record of each site was kept on a complete set of c.3,800 maps at 1:10,000 or 1:10,560 scale on which every feature or find was noted as it became known (Seymour 1980: 342). Such was the utility of the dataset (essentially created for OS internal use) that it was shared widely with other organisations at a national and local level, although the original was maintained and curated by the OS and later RCAHMS. This ended in 1990, when the entry of most of the information into a digital database was completed, and the text became available through Canmore.

Information from HES Survey and Recording (GFG) October 2016