The placename data has been extracted from a number of sources, of varying ages, precision and reliability, and this variability has implications for how the data is displayed. The sources, and the display conventions used for them are:
Ordnance Survey Explorer: All places named on the current "Explorer" 1:25000 maps are listed. These are given a UK National Grid Reference in the standard form: "AB123456" and the 'Source' entry is "OS Explorer" plus the number of the map sheet. If you are not familiar with this range of maps, you will find more information on the Ordnance Survey website.
Ordnance Survey Landranger: Occasionally, the smaller-scale "Landranger" 1:50000 maps include placenames not found on "Explorer". These are given a UK National Grid Reference in the standard form: "AB123456" and the 'Source' entry is "OS Landranger" plus the number of the map sheet.
Ordnance Survey 1st Edition (1896): The first popular edition of the Ordnance Survey 1" maps were published in the 1860s, and regularly revised therafter. We have used the reprinted version of the 1896 edition, as published by Caledonian Maps. We have included placenames from the 1896 edition which are not found on the Explorer series. The 'Source' entry is "OS 1896" plus the sheet number. The 1896 maps pre-date the invention of the National Grid Reference system, so places are listed with Latitude and Longitude, and the number of the map sheet. They are also given a calculated grid reference "AB123456" which will let you see on a modern map where these locations would have been. On occasion locations may be included from earlier Editions, such as "OS 1887"
Ordnance Survey Index: Each sheet of the first large-scale editions (6" and 25") of the Ordnance Survey County maps of Scotland which were published in the 1860s and 70s was accompanied by a separate "Index to Places". On occasion, these show placenames which do not figure on any later maps. When one of these is included, the source will be shown as "OS Index" plus the number of the relevant 25" sheet and the individual rectangle within that sheet (the 6" reference can be deduced from this). The location will be shown as "near AB123456", which will be approximately the centre of a single 25" sheet, which covers an area roughly 1.5Km east-west by 1Km north-south.
Thomson's Atlas (1832): Places found in Thomson's Atlas, but not in later maps or in the Census, are also included. The 'Source' entry is "Thomson (1832)". Thomson gave Latitude and Longitude scales on his maps, but unfortunately his Greenwich Meridian is in the wrong place, so his Longitudes are inaccurate. Places named in the Atlas have the (inaccurate) "Thomson" Latitude and Longitude values shown in italics "2:45:30W 57:45:15N", so that they can be found on his maps. You can view the Thomson Atlas online, and order paper copies of individual sheets, from the National Library of Scotland.
Census: There are many more places named in Census enumerations than appear on either the "Explorer" or the "1896" maps. Using such transcriptions as have been available to us (this varies from parish to parish), we have included placenames occurring in the Census, but not found on any of the maps. Census data is, inevitably, liable to various errors: some of the Enumerators had original views on spelling, and not a few of them had abominable handwriting. The original documents have deteriorated in a number of cases, and some of the microfilms are of poor quality. The result is sometimes great difficulty for the transcriber in making out what was written. By and large, we have taken the transcriptions on trust, but where we have serious doubts about a particular reading, we have flagged it with (?).
Census Source and Map References: The 'Source' for Census locations is the Census year plus the number of the Enumeration District (eg "1851 Census ED3"). Where we judge that Census placenames can be identified with named map locations, then they are listed with a full map reference in italics: "AB123456". Otherwise, such places will be described as "near AB123456" using a Grid Reference approximating to the centre of the Enumeration District as a whole. Note that the area covered by the Enumeration Districts varies from Census to Census, and consequently, some of these "near ..." locations will appear to wander.
Variant Names: Many of the placename variants found consist of no more than alternative spellings: "Kirkton" or "Kirktown". Others are less obvious: is "Nether Towie" the same as "Lower Towie"? Others again are definitely problematic: "Sheils" (in the parish of Botriphnie) is almost certainly the same place as "Sheals"; but what about "Shells"? Or even "Skull", which is also in the same area? In drawing up the list of placenames, we have deliberately avoided making judgements in such cases, and have preferred to present the evidence so that individual researchers can judge for themselves.
Repeated Names: There are sometimes multiple instances of one name for different locations within a single parish. Many parishes, for example, had several places called "Smithy". We have numbered these as "Smithy (1)", "Smithy (2)" etc. We have used the same notation where there are places with the same name on either side of a parish boundary (eg "Greens of Blairock (Deskford)" to distinguish it from "Greens of Blairock (Rathven)", which is less than a mile distant).
Changed Names: In a small number of cases, the name attached to a particular place can be shown to have changed completely, or the one place can be shown to have carrried widely different names. Cases like this are cross-referred, by having the alternative name added in square brackets (eg "Warylip [=Fitmacan]"). We have used the same notation to flag up what we think are misreadings (eg "Maltrie (?) [=Inaltrie]").
Related Names: As an aid to identifying places whose name may have varied subtly over time, we have, as far as possible, grouped names under a "headword": instead of appearing scattered throughout the list, "Nether Whitehill", "Upper Whitehill", "Whitehill Mill", and "Lower Whitehill Croft" are all grouped together under "Whitehill". But occasionally, particularly with placenames found only in the Census, it is hard to decide which is the "headword". To take an example from Botriphnie: does "Midtown of Glack" belong with "Midtown" or with "Glack" (both of which are recorded)? It is not always possible to resolve such questions, and such places will appear twice, once under each "headword".