1:25,000 Soils of Scotland

This digital dataset was created by the James Hutton Institute (previously Macaulay Institute for Soil Research) by digitising the Soils of Scotland 1:25,000 Soil maps and the Soils of Scotland 1:25,000 Dyeline Masters. The Soils of Scotland 1:25,000 Soil maps were the source documents for the production of the the Soils of Scotland 1:63,360 and 1:50,000 published map series. Where no 1:25,000 published maps exist 1:63,360 maps have been digitised for this data set, the field SOURCE_MAP describes the source of the data.

The classification is based on Soil Associations, Soil Series and Phases which reflect parent material, major soil group, and soil sub-groups, drainage and (for phases), texture, stoniness, land use, rockiness, topography and organic matter. Phases are not always mapped. In general terms this dataset covers the arable areas of Scotland. Not all of the available source documents have been digitised. Should there be a requirement for other areas to be captured, the Internal Contact should be contacted in the first instance.

The attributes on each map (coverage) are specific to that map sheet, but in general terms the following categories are mapped: soil association, soil series, parent material, soil complexes, soil phases, skeletal soils, alluvial soils, organic soils, miscellaneous soils, mixed bottom land, built-up area, quarries/disturbed ground, collieries/bings, golf courses.

This version of the data is Phase Three and it supercedes Phases One & Two; it was released on 4th March 2015. This includes all the data previously issued, however the data with an attribute value of "3" in the attribute ReleasePhse has been revised in this release. Revisions to the remaining parts of the data set will follow in subsequent phases.The attribute table for this Phase 3 revision incorporates new column names compared to previous releases of this data which fit within the naming protocol for soil attributes within Scotland’s National Soils Database and is progressing towards a seamless integration of datasets.The Phase 2 release contained new attributes describing soil parent materials, landforms and component soils within soil complexes. The landform descriptions only apply to soil complexes as this information was not systematically recorded for soil series. Names and codes for major soil subgroups (using the 2013 soil classification system) and soil series are listed for up to eight component soils within soil complexes. This release (Phase 3) also includes the full MSSG list for soil complexes. To ensure compatibility over all four phased releases of these datasets, the content of these new fields may be revised during the preparation of Phase 4 as new information emerges.This release includes changes to Strichen and Arkaig Associations, see Lineage, below.

Publication date: 2016-01-08


Study area
Temporal extent
1947-01-01    to    1987-01-01

Provenance & quality

The 1:25 000 scale soil maps are based on data collected mainly between 1947 and 1987.

Collection methods: A source document was chosen. The order of preference was dyeline master, clean copy, compilation then working draft. The document was overlayed with a piece of matte plastic on which the details of the source were recorded, registration marks were drawn and three tablet reference points were indicated. An overlap on 1-2mm was drawn if there was no suitable line on the base map. The map was then compared with its neighbours and the detail drawn into the overlap area which avoided underlap problems later. A check was made of the coding across sheets. Problems with line placement or coding were noted on a query sheet. The soil lines were digitised following the centre of the line and continuing into the overlap area. Stream digitising was not used. Nodes were snapped where two or more lines met at a point. The line file was cloned to make the point file, to ensure that the geo-referencing was the same in both files and the lines were then deleted from the point file. Rubbersheeting points were digitised at every grid intersection on the base map, ie every 1km intersection. Rubbersheeting points were given the code of 1. Soil codes are shown on the 1:63,360 map as letters indicating soil association and soil series. These letter codes were translated back to the five digit numbers used in the Oracle table Soils of Scotland Soil Series Codes (4100001001). A single point was digitised within each polygon and the appropriate five digit code assigned to it. A plot was made, checked against the original and any discrepancies noted. Queries were noted on the query sheet and passed with the map to a soil surveyor to be resolved. Once all the edits had been completed a final plot was made and passed to another member of the digitising team, for a final check. Files were made which would be acceptable to ARC/Info. Coverages were generated, rubbersheeted, and the rubbersheeting points removed. Clipped with LCS88 coastline and lochs and finally edgematched to its neighbours.

This release includes previously unreleased data in the north and south-west of Scotland. I also includes modifications to Strichen and Arkaig Associations as follows: prior to the completion of the 1:250 000 scale national soil map, soils developed from schists were allocated to the Strichen Association, however, during the national scale mapping, this Association was divided into two based on the stratigraphic age of the Schist (Moine or Dalradian) giving rise to the Arkaig Association (Moine Schists). The extent of these two Associations followed the geological mapping and some soils previously allocated to the Strichen Association were reclassified as belonging to the Arkaig Association. Subsequent revisions of the geological map have relocated the boundary between the Moine and Dalradian Schist such that the soils reallocated to the Arkaig Association are in areas now mapped as Dalradian Schists by geologists. During the revisions of the 1:25 000 and 1:63 360 scale soil maps, it was decided to revert to the soil Association to which the soils in this area were allocated originally, thus the areas allocated to either the Strichen or Arkaig associations on the more detailed maps will differ from the national scale map.

This data set is undergoing a phased revision. This version of the data is Phase Three and was released on 4th March 2015. This data set includes all the data previously issued, however the data with an attribute value of "3" in the attribute ReleasePh has been revised in this release. Revisions to the remaining parts of the data set will follow in a subsequent phase.

Other contacts

Colin Campbell
The James Hutton Institute


Spatial representation type
Spatial reference system
OSGB 1936 / British National Grid


Topic categories
Farming , Biota , Environment , Planning / Cadastre
Geology Geospatial / Map National Soil