March 24 sees the UK film release of Lost City of Z. It chronicles the South American adventures of British explorer, cartographer and archaeologist Lt Colonel Percy Fawcett. I joined a panel discussion in London last week, along with historian Dan Snow and Lost City of Z author David Grann, discussing how Percy would have explored and mapped a new land. Catch up on the podcast here.
A member of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), Percy Fawcett first arrived in South American in 1906 to survey and map an area of jungle lying on the Brazil and Bolivian border. The border between the two countries was not fully mapped and it was agreed that an RGS survey and map would be accepted as an impartial representation of the border. Today we would complete this activity using satellite systems and sophisticated surveying technology, which obviously wasn’t available back then. So, how would Percy and his team have gone about making maps?
Colour is one of the main graphic elements that a cartographer uses to make their map clear to read. Amongst other things we use colour to create familiarity, to differentiate features and to create a clear visual hierarchy. There are many things we can do to the features on our maps to change their appearance and many techniques we can apply to adjust the colours. Adjusting opacity levels and applying blend modes are the two techniques that we will explore in this post and we will look at some examples of how we can use them together to create effective visualisations.
We’re excited to be taking part in an evening event at the British Library with our London Geovation Hub colleagues. On Friday 10 February from 7.30 pm, the Library is hosting an eclectic evening dedicated to maps, atlases and all things curiously cartographic, set to a live soundtrack by special guest DJ Bob Stanley of Saint Etienne.
We’re part of a digital and analogue showcase of all things maps. Come along to see the team demo our work in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) mapping and see how indoor mapping can benefit us all.
Our cartography team will be talking about crowdsourcing and giving you a hands-on chance to show us what you would like to see on the London map. How would you draw a map to direct a friend? What landmarks or buildings do you navigate by? What names (or nicknames) for areas or buildings would form part of your directions? Come along to share your views about maps of the future.
Recently we wrote about a British Cartographic Society (BCS) event hosted at our head office, ‘Better Mapping with QGIS’. The one day event saw a mixture of presentations and an afternoon workshop, led by cartographic and industry experts. The culmination of the workshop was a map challenge and we are now pleased to announce the winner!
Congratulations to Steve Richardson who produced this excellent map showing Indices of Multiple Deprivation in Southampton:
Click the image to see a larger version as a PDF
The challenge was to use open data that had been supplied to create a suitable basemap, and then introduce an additional layer from another open source. Mary Spence MBE had earlier introduced the principles of cartographic design and delegates were encouraged to put these into practice when creating their maps.
You may have heard that we teamed up with publishers Laurence King to release a new book, The Great British Colouring Map: A Colouring Journey Around Britain. And it’s out today!
One year on from our release of a series of downloadable colouring-in maps created using OS OpenData, comes a full book of OS maps to colour. The book will take you on an immersive colouring-in journey around Great Britain, from the coasts and forests to the towns and countryside. Expect to see iconic cities, recognisable tourist spots and historical locations across England, Scotland and Wales via the 55 illustrations. It also includes a stunning gatefold of London.
We recently collaborated with YHA to create a stunning new display for their Youth Hostel in Castleton. The display offers visitors a variety of routes to help them #GetOutside and explore the stunning countryside that surrounds the hostel.
At the centre of the display is a large 3D contour map of the area which contains some topographic detail and local points of interest. There are six routes shown on the map using coloured pins and string which makes for a really striking, tactile display.
You may have heard us saying that there are over 500,000 routes in our OS Maps service…well, we’ve been analysing all of that data to look at which areas you most like to #GetOutside and explore. We’ve compiled a list of the 20 most popular grid squares in Britain, using 10 years of public routing data compiled in OS Maps and its predecessors.
We recently celebrated our 225th anniversary and shared with you two new maps created by our Cartographic Design team. Chris and Charley took inspiration from map styles in our history and used current OS data to recreate the look and feel. Charley chose a 1960s map of the Western Highlands of Scotland. We catch up with him to find out how he went about the challenge.
It will be no surprise that we love a book about cartography and maps through the ages and have enjoyed leafing through ‘The Mapmakers’ by John Noble Wilford, a Folio Society edition. His history of cartography presents the exploits of those great pioneers and adventurers who for millennia have been expanding our knowledge of who, and where, we are. He charts the progress of cartography from the silk maps of ancient China and the circular ‘T-O’ maps of the medieval world, right up to modern maps of the planets and the still unmapped mountains of the sea floor.
Throughout the ages new technology – compasses, sextants, theodolites, chronometers, aeroplanes, radar and satellites – have transformed the way we measure our surroundings, and explorers have constantly pushed the borders of the known world, filling in the blanks as they go. John’s book shows the impact of these cutting-edge technologies that have allowed cartographers to go from the edge of the known world to the deepest reaches of the universe.
We’ve had lots of interest from those of you wanting to enter The Times Mars map symbol competition to design a map symbol for our new Mars map. Chris Wesson, our cartographer who created the Mars map, advises on how to create the perfect map symbol.
As Steve Backshall said in a previous post, ‘If you’ve studied or used a paper map before, you’ll be aware of OS map symbols. The symbols help us to understand what appears on the map and gives us a useful guide to what we can expect to see when we’re out and about exploring Britain.’
But map symbols can also depict things you cannot see on the ground such as scientific data or historic sites without remains. Map symbols are commonly used as a method of showing location and in our latest symbol competition we are asking for your ideas to create a symbol to represent the location of landing sites on Mars.