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I have never used openstreet. Before I start to learn how, is it the best system for my needs? I have spent 5 years researching the history of my parish and produced a few amateurish hand drawn maps to illustrate my work. I want to produce a sequence of professional looking maps, at differing scales, to show changes over time - land ownership, land use, field boundaries, farmsteads, businesses and dwellings (existing, new and lost/demolished), drainage (including changes), new and old street/road names etc. Will I run into any copyright issues e.g. I think I have to rely on OS for relief features (contours)and old field and hedge boundaries? Is it possible to "hand draw" this sort of information onto an openstreet map, using an OS map for guidance? Ideally I would like to build up layers to fit one over another to illustrate these changes over time. I'd be very grateful for comment and advice.

asked 31 Jan '16, 15:24

Dick%20Pike's gravatar image

Dick Pike
accept rate: 0%

edited 01 Feb '16, 18:42

aseerel4c26's gravatar image

aseerel4c26 ♦

The easiest way to display things on the map would be to add them to the database (which is what OpenStreetMap is). However, OpenStreetMap is focused on what is currently existing and adding no longer existing items is not a good thing.

You might want to investigate the Open Historical Map project

As I understand it, they are using the OpenStreetMap tool set and concepts but also adding tagging to indicate when a feature existed (start and end dates). If you enter your information in that project then you should be able to select a year of interest and have it show a map with the things that existed at that time.

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answered 31 Jan '16, 17:30

n76's gravatar image

accept rate: 17%


a small addition regarding copyright issues: yes, be careful please. see section "1." at . Do not use any materials for your OSM contributions unless you know they are definitely allowed to be used. E.g. for "OS": If I understand correctly, we are not allowed to use it.

(31 Jan '16, 20:44) aseerel4c26 ♦

Absolutely - we can only use out-of-copyright Ordnance Survey maps (i.e. those published before 1965).

(31 Jan '16, 22:55) Richard ♦

Thank you. I'll look at Open Historical Map project. Didn't know OS maps out of copyright before 1965 - very useful as these would be the ones I'd use as base layer e.g. for old field boundaries.

(01 Feb '16, 11:50) Dick Pike

For current field boundaries bing imagery is the way to go as you do need to specify if it is a hedge, or fence. OS maps only show field boundaries. Again you should only add current boundaries to the OSM database, but historic boundaries can be added to openhistoricalmap.

I am a bit of a field boundary mapper myself, but more from a navigating PROWs basis.

(01 Feb '16, 12:54) trigpoint

Another approach would be to get the map as up to date for your Parish on Openstreetmap. This presumably would be your last map in the timeline.

You could then use the JOSM editor and download this area and save it locally and work offline to modify it going back in time, saving a different file locally for each period you want a map for. JOSM will give you access to the old OS maps as a layer to work against. I would set JOSM so that you have to add a password to upload data to avoid doing this accidentally and modifying the current OSM database.

You could tag any additional offline (locally saved) features with a start date and end date (there are tag for this that exist in the wiki) and a historic tag or alternatively remove and add features for each map period as appropriate.

You can use Mapertive to produce hardcopy or tiles for your own web based slippy map. If you have start date and end date on features you could develop different rendering rulesets to account for this. i.e. apply a different ruleset for each map period you want to produce. Maperitive rulesets will allow you to render the map as you want. If you want a slippy map displayed on the web you could generate tiles for each map and then user Leaflet to display these as different selectable maps.

If Openhistoricmap does what you want it would probably be the easiest approach but the above would be alternative for a small Parish map.

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answered 01 Feb '16, 18:51

dud1's gravatar image

accept rate: 30%


If you edit the header of the local OSM files to add upload='false' then JOSM won't ask you to upload the data to OpenStreetMap. Simply change the line near the top from:

<osm version="0.6" generator="JOSM">


<osm version="0.6" upload="false" generator="JOSM">

(01 Feb '16, 18:55) n76

I'd certainly support this idea. Using OSM to get a decent accurate map with lots of detail is easily the best way to start a base line. I've explored the process required here: The MESH project in Edinbugh, run by the Local History dept. at Edinburgh University is doing something similar on a much larger scale. At least initially, it worth building snapshots of data for a restricted number of dates: even with decent source material you'll be surprised how much additional research may be needed to resolve issues. The snapshots can be kept locally in OSM files and edited in JOSM, or you can add them to OHM.

(02 Feb '16, 21:46) SK53 ♦

There is plenty of adequate open data for contours, including stuff from the Ordnance Survey: no need to try & copy them from OS maps.

(02 Feb '16, 21:48) SK53 ♦

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question asked: 31 Jan '16, 15:24

question was seen: 3,550 times

last updated: 02 Feb '16, 21:48

NOTICE: is no longer in use from 1st March 2024. Please use the OpenStreetMap Community Forum