[Talk-GB] 'historic' county boundaries added to the database

Mark Goodge mark at good-stuff.co.uk
Wed Aug 8 09:55:34 UTC 2018

On 07/08/2018 20:48, Dave F wrote:
> Hi
> User smb1001 is currently adding county boundary relations with 
> boundary=historic through out the UK:
> http://overpass-turbo.eu/s/ASf (May take a while to run)
> Changeset discussion:
> https://www.openstreetmap.org/changeset/61410203
>  From the historic wiki page
> "historic objects should not be mapped as it is outside of scope of OSM"
> Frankly I don't buy his comments. The problem is where to stop? Do we 
> have ever iteration of every boundary change since time immemorial? Then 
> what about buildings, roads, or coastline changes etc? The database 
> would become unmanageable for editors (it already is if zoomed out too 
> far).

I agree that "historic" boundaries don't belong in OSM. They have value 
for historic researchers, but, as you say, that's not what OSM is about.

It's also flat out incorrect to say that historic boundaries are 
"immutable". Although it is true that there were massive changes in the 
1970s and a lot more since then, the idea that the historic (or 
"traditional") counties were stable throughout history is just 
myth-making. A lot of what people think of as the historic county 
boundaries are, in fact, a Victorian creation. And even they didn't 
leave them alone!

I do think, though, that there's a case for including the current 
ceremonial and preserved county boundaries. These have a defined and 
relevant meaning here and now, even if it's a less common one than 
administrative boundaries such as counties, districts and parishes. 
Maybe the people adding historic boundaries to OSM could be nudged in 
that direction instead.


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