School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Street walking!! Mapping Edinburgh’s Social History 1000-2000 A.D.

Interested in Edinburgh's social history, to walk on the streets, to learn how to use a Geographic Information System (GIS) to create a map and to discover OpenStreetMap - the equivalent of Wikipedia for maps? Then this workshop is for you.

During the workshop, you’ll learn about digital mapping, GIS, open data and have a better understanding of techniques that will add a different element to your CV. So be part of reconstructing the spatial dimension of the history of Edinburgh. Join in for a few hours in the morning and/or the afternoon, walk along a set route, record some data, and enjoy mapping.

Why are we recording street addresses?

Some providers such as Google or Yahoo! offer online tools to find a specific address or postcode. This is the basis of the maps you obtain on your phone. The results are often inaccurate, and users are not permitted to geocode more than few addresses at a time. Historians need to create maps based on lots of addresses: of individuals, memberships, taxes, companies, and occupations all obtained from archival sources. To map these relationships it is necessary to assign a geographic coordinate to a given address, a process known as geocoding.

That's why, in the context of the MESH project - Mapping Edinburgh’s Social History - we have decided to develop and provide everyone with an online tool capable of geocoding any address in Edinburgh, including historical addresses. For that, we need to create a database of current addresses. Only then can we plot the historical information we have collected with confidence. We are using OpenStreetMap - the equivalent of Wikipedia for maps which is free and available to everyone.

The workshop lasts 3.5 hours and includes theory, practice, and hopefully, some fun. The workshop program is divided as follows:

  • 30 minutes of introduction about historical GIS, the geocoding process, open data, the OpenStreetMap project and the process of recording house numbers;
  • 2 hours walking Edinburgh to record some house numbers in the Old Town or in the New Town, and to enjoy finding out a little more about Edinburgh itself;
  • 1 hour to learn how to add these house numbers on OpenStreetMap using JOSM, an editor for OpenStreetMap data.
Date & time: Each day during ILW, two sessions each day: 9.30am - 1pm and 1pm – 4.30pm
Audience: Any University of Edinburgh student
Cost: Free
Accessibility: Work will involve walking around Edinburgh.
Meeting point: G.13, William Robertson Wing
Booking: Please contact us to let us know which day(s) you can make

Contact us

Mapping Edinburgh’s Social History (MESH) Project