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GB Counties - Past and Present

Explore the county boundaries of Great Britain throughout time with our counties map.


These two datasets of county boundary information have been released as part of Boundary-Line through the popular OS OpenData portal.

OS has been mapping the changing physical landscape of Great Britain for the past 224 years. It is not only the landscape which has changed, but our county boundaries have also changed over the past two centuries.

These datasets have been created as part of a project with the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The current and historic county boundaries have been added to our administrative boundary data under the open data portfolio.

Different definitions

Different definitions

The term ‘counties’ has three slightly different definitions in Great Britain. The first would be counties defined by the Local Government Act 1972 and used for administrative purposes.


Ceremony and history

Ceremony and history

Ceremonial counties, as defined by the Lieutenancies Act 1997, refer to the areas relating to the Lord-lieutenants, the monarch’s representatives. And historic counties are geographical boundaries that date back over many centuries, and form the basis of the counties we know today.

How to get this product

Our open data products are covered by the Open Government Licence (OGL), which allows you to:

  • copy, distribute and transmit the data;
  • adapt the data; and
  • exploit the data commercially, whether by sub-licensing it, combining it with other data, or including it in your own product or application.

We simply ask that you acknowledge the copyright and the source of the data by including the following attribution statement:

  • Contains OS data © Crown copyright and database right 2022
  • Where you use Code-Point Open data, you must also use the following attribution statements:
  • Contains Royal Mail data © Royal Mail copyright and Database right 2022
  • Contains National Statistics data © Crown copyright and database right 2022

Read more about Open Data licences

Technical specification

Key FeaturesWhat this product offers
FormatShape or Tab files
CoverageGreat Britain