Definition Of The Format For Gazetteer Entries


Version 3


Source files

The searches are all performed on a central MySQL database using SQL queries. Changes made by maintainers are not made to the central database itself, but to a set of source files which are used collectively to replace the entire database at regular intervals or when the need arises.

The source files consist of comma separated text files named places.csv, with one file per county. The places.csv file for a county can be held in any convenient location on a server accessible to both the county gazetteer maintainer, and the system administrator. Note that the county gazetteer maintainer need not be the same person as the county maintainer. Contact the system administrator if you have a problem locating your places.csv file.

Database creation/update

The URL for a county's places.csv file is held as part of the county's entry in the County database table. Contact the system administrator if you need the entry changed.

A program is run by the system administrator to collect all the county places.csv files and build the database from source. When any section has been changed, a database rebuild is required to activate the change; a simple rebuild is performed at 06:00 every day.

Definition of fields

The fields in the places.csv file are as follows. Each field description contains the field name used in the MySQL database to identify it, and its size and type. The column letters are those that would head a spreadsheet format of the places.csv file.

Column Field Name Content Explanation
A CCC Chapman county code 3 characters, upper case.
B GRIDREF Location 32 characters, you can use either of two formats (see below).
C APPROX Boolean Flag indicating whether the grid reference is exact or approximate. "Y" or "Yes" means this is an approximate reference and "N" or "No" means it's an exact one. "C" can be used to note that the location specified is that of the centre of the county because no location is available but, in such cases, it is better to leave this and the location field empty. Similarly, "P" can be used to indicate that the location is that of the centre of the parish rather than the actual location of the place.
D PLACE Place Name Up to 32 characters.
E PRIME Boolean A flag indicating whether this is the primary entry for the Town/Parish page in the associated URL. "Yes" means this is the primary entry, "No" means it's not (and might be one of many). For each different URL in Column G there must be only one places.csv file entry with this flag set to "Yes".
F MOREPLACE Additional comments Up 32 characters about the location. There are frequently multiple places in a county with the same name, and this field can be used to help distinguish them. E.g., there are at least 5 Broughtons in Lancashire, and we distinguish them with text like "near Preston".
G URL The URL of the Town/Parish page of the area which includes this place This is typically the historic parish or township which includes this place and will point to a GENUKI parish page. However, it's not obvious how best to treat all such places. In any case, this field is used to point to the page where the maintainer has placed information about this place. See below for a reference.
H UNSPEC Boolean Alias flag. Some places have alternative names, e.g. English and Welsh names for the same place. Choose a name that you want to be the first to appear (primary name) and create a normal gazetteer entry for it. For all the alternative names create additional entries with the same GRIDREF, but for these, set this flag to "Yes". For the alias entries Column E (PRIME) will always be "No".
I BARONY Barony/Hundred/District (32 characters) For Ireland this field contains the name of the barony in which the place is located. For England and Wales this field can be used optionally to hold the name of the hundred or wapentake in which the place is/was located. For Scotland this field can optionally be used to hold the name of the district in which the place is/was located. For Ireland this field is needed to link townlands to their relevant parish because, for most of the parishes, we have no web pages to link to via the URL field. Note: this field does not get displayed and so there is no requirement for multiple entries if a place exists in 2 or more baronies.
J PARISH Parish name (32 characters) The name of the civil parish in which the place is located. For Ireland this field is used to link townlands to their relevant parish because, for most of the parishes, we have no web pages to link to via the URL field.
K TYPE Type of place (32 characters) The type of place i.e., one of: "Parish", "Townland", "Hamlet" etc. For Ireland, all parishes should have the characters "Parish" in this field and all townlands should have the characters "Townland" as this is used to link townlands to their parishes when we have no URL for them.
L QUOTE Quoted description (32 characters) The name of the file containing a quote describing the place. If present this quote will appear in the gazetteer entry web pages. It is planned to use the quotes extracted from Lewis's Topographical Dictionaries and these are stored currently at /big/Gazeteer/quotes. This field should contain just the name of the file, and not the directory in which it is held, e.g., "i10099.txt".
M NOTES Maintainers notes This field will never get entered into the database, but is a place within the csv file to hold any notes that the maintainer may need particularly during development of new place entries.
N ALIASES Placename Aliases This does not become a database field, but is used by the database rebuild process to create additional entries with the same contents as the current entry but with the alias as the place name, the PRIME flag set to 'N' and the UNSPEC (Alias) flag set to 'Y'. If there is more than one alias, use a colon (:) as a separator in the list. Avoid leaving spaces at the start and end of alias names.
O FHS FHS Code(s) The code(s) for the FHS(s) covering this Town/Parish.
P OTHERCCC Additional Counties Some parishes and places have county boundaries running through them. This field helps handle these and should contain the additional county code(s), separated by colon (:) characters if there is more than one additional county.
Q HIDEME Boolean If a parish has a county boundary running through it and multiple entries in the gazetteer, then this field can be used to hide the less important ones in a general search. If you code a 'Y' character here then this entry won't be returned as the result of a general search. However if the search has been restricted to a specific county, then the entry will be returned if the search is successful. To identify the predominant entry, code a 'N' character (N is the default). This technique can also be used for towns lying across county boundaries.
R ID Identifier An identifier, unique within the county, for a town/parish. Each entry for which PRIME is set should have a unique ID that never changes to provide a consistent reference to the town parish even if the url or location gets adjusted in the future. This is a character string and it is suggested that it be based on the name of the town/parish with additional characters to make it unique if there are multiple ones with the same name.

GRIDREF format

One of two formats can be used for a GRIDREF field entry:

  • UK Ordnance Survey grid reference - full 8 characters. There are hints for using online maps to find exact locations. It is not possible to use Irish Ordnance Survey grid references because the scripts used to search and maintain the gazetteer are written in Perl with in-built conversion routines which are not available for Irish OS grid references..
  • Latitude and longitude - specified as a pair of comma separated numbers e.g., "54.602699,-5.935707". In the database, the location field contains an internal format based on the UK OS grid reference, which has been extended to cover the west of Ireland. This provides a single reference key, and a mechanism for selection. This is only visible on some URLs. On all the display screens the location appears as a UK OS grid reference, or for all of Ireland, as latitude and longitude. If you need the reference key, use the link from the gaz script which gives a list of tabular results and follow the link to the gazetteer entry.
  • If the location field is left blank (and this is only a temporary measure to be used during major updates) the centre location of the county will be used when the entry gets incorpoarted into the database, and the APPROX field will be set to 'C' regardles of its content in the csv file.

Other gazetteer settings

There are some entries in the county database entry which are used by some of the search routines:

  • The name of the county town.
  • Its grid reference.
  • A grid reference for the physical centre of the county.
  • Whether this county section of the gazetteer is being maintained and developed.


A number of CGI scripts are available to access the gazetteer information in a number of ways.

  • nearby: Add a link on a town or parish page to search the gazetteer and show nearby places in the button bar at the top of the page. The call to locate nearby places is via a link nearby cgi script with appropriate parameters.
  • placemaps: Under the Maps heading you can put a call to a placemaps script, which shows a page with links to online maps for all the places you recorded as being within this town/parish.
  • gaz: In your list of town and parish pages you can add a call to the gaz script to enable users to find the pages for other places within your county. Remember to include a hidden CCC parameter to default to your county.
  • howfar: Under the Gazetteers heading on town and parish pages you can add a call to the howfar script so users can find the distance to other places.