Ordnance Survey 50K Map Symbols

Creative Commons Licence [Some Rights Reserved]   Text © Copyright February 2007, David Hawgood; licensed for re-use under a Creative Commons Licence.


Ordnance Survey 1:50,000 scale maps use about 140 standard symbols. Geograph now has photos of almost all the types of feature depicted by symbols. A set of articles has been developed to show photographs, and map extracts with the symbols. Geograph contributors have suggested the examples.
Symbols are shown on the maps, and online on pdf pages OS 1:50,000 map symbolsExternal link and1:50,000 symbols, WelshExternal link. Some symbols show features not visible on the ground. Ordnance Survey also lists hundreds of abbreviationsExternal link; only a few are in the key on maps. We have an article OS abbreviationsExternal link listing abbreviations that can appear on 25k or 50K maps, and giving examples we have found of their occurrence.

See also OS master map topography - beta versionExternal link for links to other OS documents. It links to OS master map typographyExternal link, added here for reference.

We also have an article listing descriptive words on OS maps - see descriptive words External link .

Articles for types of symbol

Links will be added here as the articles are developed.
AbbreviationsExternal link
AntiquitiesExternal link
BoundariesExternal link
Heights and rock featuresExternal link
Land featuresExternal link
RailwaysExternal link
Rights of way and accessExternal link
Roads and pathsExternal link
Tourist informationExternal link
Water featuresExternal link

News about changes

We have noticed several changes or additions to symbols used on OS 1:50,000 scale maps. The changes are implemented progressively, probably first on the on-line map, and in geographic areas that require revision. Here are some that we know about from 2008 and 2016. Because 1:50,000 maps displayed on Geograph photo pages are from 2006, to see new symbols click on displayed map in photo page for online map initially at 1:25,000 scale, click minus to see 1:50,000 scale online map.

Noticed in July 2008:
Noticed in October 2017, revision starting 2016:
Wind Turbine in General section. See ND2751 : Flex Hill and Achairn wind farms at grid reference ND 273 516.
There are several changes on access land shown in the Land Features section. Additions, some replacing Forestry Commission symbols, are:
National Resources Wales see SH7955 : The A470 heading south.
Forestry Division Plantation (Isle of Man) see SC2373 : Earystane plantation, Isle of Man.
Manx National Heritage see SH7955 : The A470 heading south - symbol is shown on map extract on photo page.

Comments and discussion

Two discussion areas open to registered Geograph users:
Examples as suggested by Geograph contributorsExternal link
Discussion of OS map symbolsExternal link

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