Commons:Requests for comment/Divisions of Scotland

  • 1 I am seeking community input on how images in Scotland should be categorised; the long-standing hierarchy is divided into subcategories by the current unitary authorities (called "Councils") created by the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994, e.g those listed in Council areas of Scotland.
  • 2 Some months ago a user came to Commons and began adding images to the parallel categorisation tree by adding the "former" counties, e.g. Nairnshire, Banffshire etc. which are listed at Shires of Scotland and, in some cases, removing existing categorisations by "new" council areas. The shires cannot be regarded as subsets of council areas because in some cases their boundaries are not coterminous and there is no devolution of authority from the councils to the shires.
  • 3 The situation is therefore that an image may be categorised by "new" council area or "old" shire, and sometimes both, but there has been no consistent approach to adding categories to images. This has led to inconsistency of categorisation of images, and while I have put some work into maintaining both categories, I am not sure that the volume of work involved is likely in the long run to be useful to users of Commons.
  • 4 The legal situation set out by the 1994 Act, section 1(3) is that "On 1st April 1996 (a) all local government areas existing immediately before that date which are regions or districts; and (b) all regional and district councils, shall cease to exist." However, the "old" shire place-names are retained for lieutenancy areas and registration counties and for various county associations including County Chambers of Commerce. (→Shires of Scotland). My opinion is that this categorisation scheme is only useful to Commons for matters specifically relating to the former counties, e.g. maps, logos etc.
  • 5 I am seeking community advice as to (a) whether this double categorisation should continue and (b) what should be done with the categorisation that has already occurred. Rodhullandemu (talk) 18:56, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
  • The images should be categorised by the current council areas of Scotland, to prevent confusion for readers. EverythingGeography (talk) 20:21, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
  • Agree with EverythingGeography. A qualification may be that as the Highland Council area is so large en:wiki also uses the district sub-divisions within en:Category:Populated places in Highland (council area). There is a map here - they are broadly similar in some cases to the old shires but although some of the names may suggest otherwise they are not exactly the same. I can't see that any practical purpose would be served by using "double categorisation" in Highland or elsewhere. W. L. Tarbert (talk) 20:42, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
  • I would agree that a subdivision as you suggest for Highland would be easier to manage. Rodhullandemu (talk) 21:37, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
  • The maps of the boundaries of the Counties or Shires of Scotland are recorded in the 2009 Acts of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Statutory Instruments 2009 No. 171.

Registers and records. The Fees in the Registers of Scotland Amendment Order 2009. Made 29th April 2009. Coming into force 31st May 2009. Registers of Scotland. Data set of registration county boundaries. 150 pounds.

  • +1 to above two comments. Note that I am fine with a restricted amount of the county information being included, via categories analogous to Category:Places historically in Berkshire. These categories are easier to verify and more flexible. This is because the criteria for inclusion is "X WAS in Banffshire at some point" (easy to check on old maps) not "Banffshire today contains X" (all but impossible to check, if its even a valid statement). The precise phrasing "Places historically in Banffshire" is also neutral - it doesn't imply the present-day existence or non-existence of Banffshire.
However, primary categorisation would be through current local authority areas, and being placed in a historical cat is no substitute for the present. If needed, I can do bot runs to identify misplaced files.--Nilfanion (talk) 21:01, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
  • If we adopt a convention of "historically in X", how would be avoid the criticism that ALL places in X have now moved to Y as its replacement? Unless I've missed something, that would just replicate the current parallel tree we have now. Rodhullandemu (talk) 21:37, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
  • I note that sometimes its genuinely useful to note the historic connection between a town and a county it has no current administrative connection to. eg Abingdon was the county town of Berkshire, and this makes it useful to be accessible from the Berkshire tree. The layout I have suggesed has a few advantages. It doesn't require you to define the current boundaries, just the much easier task of identifying a historical relationship. It doesn't require two separate cats when the old are new are the same name, but clearly segregates the current administration from the historic (eg Aberdeenshire). Any cat or file in a "historically in X" cat, without also being in its current area, can be readily identified. It also avoids mirroring the entire tree, but focusing on the single most useful element - the locations. As the historical tree can be ignored completely if you want, the additional workload required is zero. To fully populate it merely means tagging town/village categories, not any other sort of cat, or files directly (a relatively cheap exercise).--Nilfanion (talk) 22:17, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
  • This is a pragmatic note, rather than a point of view. I am just in the process of setting up a categorization by Faebot of all Geograph images in Scotland using Ordnance Survey open data for Councils/Unitary Authorities. You can see a real example of mapit's breakdown using the same data at,54.991261.html and you can examine a practical early run project page at User:Faebot/Geograph#3a:_Dumfries_and_Galloway with results ending up at Category:Geograph images in Scotland. Anyway, the plan is to stick to the current councils as used by Ordnance Survey and available as highly accurate free map data to compare with. The run is likely to take more than a month and the Geograph project page will be updated with progress, testing and decisions made as they happen. By the way, this always was one of my projects that I expected to take all year to work through the whole of the UK at the Council level, there have been discussions about how to break down into smaller regions (the OS data has turned out to be highly accurate and reliable, so it comes down to whether GPS tags on the photos are good enough to pin a place to) but any work of this type will be tested, retested and discussed openly and at length. I have no intention of Faebot's work becoming contentious. Smile fasdfdsfoiueire.svg -- (talk) 21:21, 26 August 2013 (UTC)
The technical issues are beyond me but to me this looks like very good work. Respect to Faebot. W. L. Tarbert (talk) 08:52, 27 August 2013 (UTC)
  • The maps of the boundaries of the Counties or Shires of Scotland are recorded in the 2009 Acts of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Statutory Instruments 2009 No. 171.

Registers and records. The Fees in the Registers of Scotland Amendment Order 2009. Made 29th April 2009. Coming into force 31st May 2009. Registers of Scotland. Data set of registration county boundaries. 150 pounds. Scotire (talk) 06:35, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

  • You can see from the Act of the Scottish Parliament 2009 no. 171 that the counties are not "former" as expressed in the 2nd paragraph of this discussion. Many tens of thousands of photos were placed into counties and were sorted into places in those counties. As there are only about 32 Scottish counties they can be, without any trouble, and as has been done, placed as a sub-category of the Council category, although the county is actually higher than the council that runs it. Someone has been using a bot to take the towns from the counties and placing them in the council categories before this discussion has been running for the required 2 weeks. Scotire (talk) 06:42, 30 August 2013 (UTC)
That is a reason for the quotes around the word former. Land registration is a relatively minor function - and statutory instruments relating to counties refer to 'registration counties' not just 'counties'. The registration counties are solely used for land registration purposes (and should not be confused with the former postal counties). In contrast, the council areas NOT limited to council services, but are used for a wide range of activities.
The registration counties are not necessarily the same as the historic counties, and are certainly different from the former postal counties. Boundary changes happened (eg major revisions in 1891, moving areas from Banffshire to Aberdeenshire and vice versa). I suspect that its the former postal counties that have the strongest effect on the countie's self-identity today, as the appearance of 'Banffshire' on letters is more significant than on deeds.
In general, there is no correspondence between county and council area that allows effective subcategorisation. Banffshire is contained within both Moray and Aberdeenshire. Making it a subcat of both would really damage things, as you could no longer tell if somewhere in Banffshire is in Moray or Aberdeenshire.--Nilfanion (talk) 10:20, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

Fuller structureEdit

I've been thinking about how to develop a more structured tree for Scotland. The council areas should be the top-tier for the reasons above, and "small" features like towns or mountains are the bottom-tier. However, it would be good to get some intermediates.

Islands (like Skye) naturally fit in between the two extremes. In the Highlands the Ward management areas like Category:Badenoch and Strathspey are also worthwhile, though should be used with caution (Caithness is different from the historic county).

The other potential intermediate is the civil parishes, which are much less significant than the English and Welsh equivalents, but are used by Historic Scotland (and so are a useful subdivision imo). There may not be an exact 1-to-1 correspondence to the council areas, but this isn't a big deal.

Using these gives the following cases:

Mainland Highlands Large islands Small islands
Council area Council area Council area Council area
District Island
Civil Parish Civil Parish Civil Parish Civil Parish
Feature Feature Feature Feature

Notes: A large island has multiple CPs, while several small islands may be contained in a single CP. A feature may be a settlement, loch, mountain, castle...

To avoid confusion with the namesake villages I suggest categories for Scottish CPs should be of the form [[Category:<name> (Scottish parish)]]. For simplicity, this should be done for all parishes, whether their name is ambiguous or not.

Other units such as Registration counties, former postal counties, historic counties should not be used in the primary tree, but for material specifically relating to them. Note that Glasgow is historically part of Lanarkshire but is a registration county in its own right (so the Registration counties are not quite the same as the historic ones). Specific locations could be added to these alternative units in a supplementary manner.--Nilfanion (talk) 00:34, 3 September 2013 (UTC)

Agree in principle, but I am always wary of adding extra levels of categorisation, because the user may not be familiar with the lower-level subdivisions; that said, having spent yesterday evening trying to sort out a category for a village which has been usurped for the Parish (and it's not the only one!), perhaps it would be easier to do this while we can. They are certainly useful for categorising images that are within the parish but not at any recognisable feature. Bearing in mind that there are 871 CPs in Scotland, some effort will be required. However, out of concern for the user, I would think it useful to have a map of each Council Area (or whatever) showing the rough Parish Boundaries and their names- or a locator map for each area, if that is a workable way of achieving the desired result. Meanwhile, on roughly the same topic, I have created {{Canmore}} to provide a link to the RCAHMS website- it seems to work as long as you use the right ID, and I suspect you'd probably go there to get categorisation information anyhow. I hope you find it useful. Rodhullandemu (talk) 17:52, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
The way I see the extra layers is to better define locations, in those circumstances the parish is helpful (eg to give better localisation to a pic of a forest). The <topic> in <area> type cats should be council area only, and only subdivided in rare situations - so if you want a village in Lanarkshire you would go Lanarkshire -> Towns and villages in Lanarkshire -> village.
Current practice in England is to conflate the parish and village, and ought to be revisited there too really. Its not as serious in England, because of the greater significance and that the CP is the limit of a town council's control. We do not want to repeat that in Scotland, where its more clearly a distinct unit.
I should be able to create council area maps of the parishes, as well as larger-scale maps of the individual parishes on an OS background (like this). That means c 900 files so will take a while.--Nilfanion (talk) 21:07, 3 September 2013 (UTC)
Last modified on 3 September 2013, at 21:08