Centre points of the United Kingdom

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The stake marks the spot of the geographic centre of Britain (including all islands). It is located just to the east of Whitendale Hanging Stones in Lancashire at SD 64188 56541 .
"Centrographers" at the centre of mainland Great Britain, in a field near Whalley, Lancashire at Grid Ref SD 72321.72 36671.1 (approximately), in December 2005.

There has long been debate over the exact location of the geographical centre of the United Kingdom, and its constituent countries, due to the complexity and method of the calculation, such as whether to include offshore islands, and the fact that erosion will cause the position to change over time. There are two main methods of calculating this "centre": either as the centroid of the two-dimensional shape made by the country (projected to the Airy ellipsoid then flattened using the Transverse Mercator projection), or as the point farthest from the boundary of the country (either the sea, or, in the case of constituent countries, a land border). These two methods give quite different answers.

Traditional locations[edit]

The town of Haltwhistle in Northumberland has[when?] banners stating that it is the "Centre of Britain".[citation needed] By another calculation[which?] the centre can also be said to be Dunsop Bridge, Lancashire (historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire), 71 miles (114 km) to the south.[citation needed]

For centuries the parish of Meriden to the west of Coventry has claimed to be the geographical centre of England, and there has been a stone cross there commemorating the claim for at least 500 years. The justification is that the point farthest from the sea is in the parish.[citation needed] Morton, Derbyshire also claims to be the centre of England as it is not only mid-way along England's longest north-south axis,[citation needed] but also mid-way between the east coast and the Welsh border.[citation needed] Claims are also made for the site of a tree, the Midland Oak, situated on the boundary between Lillington and Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, although the basis for these claims is not clear.

Schiehallion, a mountain in Perthshire, is sometimes described as the centre of Scotland.[citation needed]

However, in 2002 the Ordnance Survey conducted studies that pinpointed the respective centres more precisely, and it is their results that are quoted below.

Centroid locations[edit]

Plaque on the ancient cross at Meriden, West Midlands, the traditional centre of England.
Road sign welcoming visitors to the Centre of England at Morton, Derbyshire.

Put simply, the centroid is the point at which a cardboard cut-out of the area could be perfectly balanced on the tip of a pencil.[1] Islands are assumed fixed to the mainland in their precise position by invisible rigid weightless wires. A mathematical method is used to do the balancing to a much greater accuracy than the practical method could achieve.

Unless stated, positions are the centroids of the two-dimensional shapes made by the countries. Calculations include offshore islands unless stated.

Great Britain

Great Britain (excluding islands other than the island of Great Britain itself)

England

Northern Ireland

Scotland

Wales

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Locations found by other methods[edit]

Point farthest from the sea

Point farthest from high tide mark (including tidal rivers)

Centre of a rectangle enclosing precisely all of England and Wales

Mid point of the longest north–south axis

  • Haltwhistle, Northumberland. The midpoint of the longest north–south meridian; also approximately the midpoint of each of the lines through it across Great Britain along the 16 main compass directions.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Brave hearts of Scotland". BBC. 2002-10-24. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  2. ^ a b "Stuck in the middle with ewe". BBC. 2002-10-20. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  3. ^ "Q. Where is the centre of mainland Great Britain?". MapZone. Ordnance Survey. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  4. ^ "A tale of two centres". BBC. 2002-10-22. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  5. ^ "New centre of England marked in Fenny Drayton". BBC. 2013-06-14. Retrieved 2013-06-14. 
  6. ^ "Meg in the middle". BBC. 2002-10-23. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  7. ^ "Saving the centre of Wales". BBC. 2002-10-24. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  8. ^ BBC News (calculation made by Ordnance Survey) 16 September 2014
  9. ^ The Centre of Britain, Centre of Britain Hotel, Haltwhistle, Northumberland. Accessed May 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Sacred Center: The Ancient Art of Locating Sanctuaries John Michell, Inner Traditions, 2009 . ISBN 1594772843

External links[edit]