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Ordnance Survey Maps

Ordnance Survey Maps
© www.britainonview.com / Rod Edwards

What do you get if you hang around on Hounslow Heath with a 39-inch theodolytes? Well, among other things, you end up with a survey of the whole of Great Britain, Ireland and a fair few chunks of mainland Europe.

And from these small beginnings, we get the glorious and vast Ordnance Survey map series. Although the development of OS maps is now based on satellite technology, initially they were founded on the ability of a team of men to walk up a big hill with heavy equipment and construction materials.

Once there, to get the accurate measure of the landscape, they had to be able to gaze out to another team of men who had similarly tramped up the next big hill with all their heavy equipment.

And it is thanks to them that we end up sometimes knowing where we are going. And it is also thanks to them that on other occasions we end up having a big row over how we got to be somewhere we did not intend to be at all.

Blimey – encounters with maps are like a metaphor for life itself. If that doesn’t make them iconic, what does?


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