Sunday, 5 July 2009

The Mysterious 'Standing Stone' of Wimbledon Common

I had a very enjoyable stroll around Hammersmith and Shepherds Bush yesterday, but as that will take me a few days to sort out I was pleased to stumble over an interesting object on Wimbledon Common this morning (not literally of course, it was quite noticable and had a small girl perched on top when I first saw it) that makes a nice quick post in its own right.
As you can see it looks suspiciously like a milestone, albeit in a strange place. The main road is a good few hundred yards away from its position and although the Common has been traversed by riders since its inception, I would have been surprised if they were using it as the main route anywhere.
A plain, chiseled obelisk standing alone in an open space at the highest point of Wimbledon Common..hmm

Getting up close for a better look there were no obvious inscriptions, although it was quite worn and I suppose it was possible that any had been erased over time.

And then... I saw it. Right on the top. A metal rod had been placed into the body of the rock in the middle of a slight depression and there, just to the side, was the faint remnants of three chisled arrows pointing toward it.

Thanks to M.J. and his information regarding the identical sign I saw in Brentford last week I was able to identify this as another benchmark. It's surprising how, when your eyes are opened to something for the first time, you seem to see them everywhere!

OK, it's not all that clear, but try squinting or clicking on the image to have a closer look

If you haven't read M.J.'s comment I can tell you that these 'benchmarks' are sited and used by the OS as points of reference for all maps. In effect they are the standard points from which all other measurements are made. The three chisel marks were historically used to site the feet of the surveyors equipment but I assume they are more symbolic these days. In this particular instance it's the metal rod that 'marks the spot'!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, you did well to spot that. Unless I'm much mistaken (and I'm not really a trig point nerd) that's a particular type of benchmark called a rivet. I'm not sure what they actually did with these rivets but if you google it you'll find lots of people on the internet who get excited about them.

Anyway, I wanted to drop in and say hello because I've been very inspired by your blog - I run one with a very similar remit for my home town of Cheltenham. I found yours while researching for a post about coalholes ... so needless to say we have one or two interests in common! I found your coalhole posts so useful I've given you a credit. Keep up the good work, it's fascinating stuff.