Past Activities

Northern Spring Meeting, April 2017


Nearly 30 milestoners braved the usual clichés (hottest day of the year, lambs larking among the daffodils, cakes and ale - well, tea - etc) for another interesting day in Hebden.  Entertained for starters by the duo of Dorothy and Brian Burrows with stones and signs from most continents - I especially liked the "Long delays at Worlds End" road-sign.

David Garside followed, describing the walks he has organised highlighting some of the old roads and tracks in the South Pennines and their boundary-stones and waymarkers.  The most recent one around Blackstone Edge is a fascinating area with a Roman road (probably), packhorse track (still traceable), the Aiggin Stone (probably mediaeval rather than prehistoric or Roman, possibly a boundary stone, or possibly simply a marker for anyone lost on the moors), several boundary stones, some with unidentified initials (surveyors, buried criminals or suicides? - see example on left), and an excellent pub/restaurant, The White House, with magnificent views.

Other walks have covered areas around Todmorden, Mankinholes, Stoodley Pike and Marsden.  The latter featured the Packhorse Road stones and the various routes over Standedge, with some more magnificent views from Pule Hill where you will also find one of Simon Armitage's Stanza Stones poems (Snow).

The indefatigable Jan Scrine then told us about her latest project, Finding the Way (, and showed us her British Empire Medal - richly-deserved.

After lunch June Scott gave a talk on something those of us of a certain age (most of us, to be honest) have long since forgotten from our school-days: rods, poles and perches and many other pre-metric measurements.  She illustrated this while waving a yardstick (a real one rather than the metaphorical sort that is the more common usage of the word nowadays - quite appropriate for a society whose name has also been purloined figuratively), and finally produced a chain.  Again a real one, a bit rusty, but still perfect for preparing a cricket pitch. 

Apparently an early measure was the Persian parasang, the length of which varied according to terrain and speed of travel.  As someone later pointed out, we seem to have come full circle: we no longer think of what the distance between two places is, rather the time it takes to get there.

And finally Nick Mortimer and Keith Benton presented another miscellany of milestones, mainly from Wales, Northumberland, Derbyshire and Cumbria (or should I say Cumberland and Westmorland?).  A sobering collection, in that it showed how many waymarkers have succumbed to the ravages of rust, erosion and modern machinery; and how much work is still to be done.

RWH/April 2017