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Why are the OS maps for England and Wales separate from Scotland

When you purchase any of our OS map licenses, whether it is an annual subscription or perpetual license, you have access to the whole of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales).

In past editions we have covered the entire GB, from the Isles of Scilly to the Shetland Islands, in one seamless map. Of course it is not necessary to download the whole map (see How to Download a Specific Area of a Map), but still the large map presents some challenges.

With the 2021 Edition OS maps, because we are using a new high-definition process, it was necessary to split the area in half.  The OS maps are drawn using the British National Grid, whereas Memory-Map uses latitude and longitude internally. Converting between them is not a problem, but it cause some very slight mathematical rounding errors. With past editions, some of you have noticed missing or blurry grid lines on the map, caused by calibration rounding errors. By reducing the physical extent of the maps, we are able to keep the rounding errors to less than one pixel. The result is a much sharper image without any blurring or missing grid lines, and it also results in better compression, so the download size is reduced. 

If you follow our directions to access your purchased map, using the My Online Maps and Maps Everywhere buttons, you will see the map for England and Wales, and a separate map of Scotland listed as separate downloads. The license covers both maps.

If you are close the border area, we agree the split may be an inconvenience. However,

  • There is an overlap of several miles
  • On mobile, just tap off the edge of the map to load the adjoining map
  • On PC, double-click off the edge of the map to load the adjoining map
  • On the PC, you can also open two map windows at once

We think the improvements in map quality are well worth the slight inconvenience of having a separate map.