Map Symbols

Could you design some new symbols for an OS map?


Maps are a must-have for exploring places near and far. Even if you think you know an area a map symbols can help you find all the hidden gems and popular places.  They are also an excellent tool for planning a hike, and making sure you know where you are going when you walk it!

Ordnance Survey Symbols

Ordnance Survey (OS) is Great Britain’s national mapping agency. It carries out the official surveying of the country and provides the most accurate and up-to-date geographic data for everyone to use.

OS maps have symbols that help us find the things that we want. For example there’s a symbol for schools, for view points and for places of worship.

You can check out the most used symbols here.

There are also some rarer symbols that you won’t find on most maps, but that have been created for when they are needed – for example there are some that are only for the Norfolk Broads. You can check out these rare symbols here.

Symbol Design Challenge

Do you think the symbols accurately reflect what they are meant to represent? Are there any that you think could do with an update? How would you redraw them?

Do you think there are any types of place or attraction that currently don’t have a symbol but should do? What would you add a symbol for? What would the symbol be?

How about if you could make bespoke symbols for your own map? Can you think of a symbol for your home, for where your friends live, where the best place to fly a kite is or anywhere else you enjoy to go?

Once you have your new symbols, see if you can map an area near you and include your new symbols.

Take it Further

If you enjoyed discovering about symbols and maps, you might like to explore trail laying with our Track and Trail activity.  You can also explore the history and politics of maps and map making with our Middle of the Map activity.

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