I’m starting to see arrows wherever I go; broad arrows carved into ancient brick or stone work, or bronze plates with the arrow cast into the surface, built into walls.
It’s all a result of the post I wrote last year, about the Ordnance Survey’s network of benchmarks.
I found a couple recently when I was taking photos and doing research for The Railway That Nearly Was post; I can now spot them carved into walls from about 40 feet away.
These two were in the road bridges over the old railway at New Bradwell and Great Linford. It doesn’t take a moment to take a close up photo. I hold a flash off camera to side light the benchmark and show it up clearly.
Above the broad arrow (for govt. property) is a horizontal line. This is the benchmark, the reference point for map making.
I didn’t think to check the church at Old Wolverton when I went there for a forthcoming post yesterday, because the wind was icy cold and striking right through my clothes; it’s pretty exposed up there on the hill overlooking the Great Ouse.
I waited until the sun came out for a second, took my photos, and hurried back to the car.
When I got home I checked on the National Library of Scotland’s map images, and sure enough, the map showed a benchmark on the South side of the church.
I knew I had taken a photo of that side, so found the photo on the camera and zoomed right in. There it was, clear as day, but far too small to show up on the blog. You’ll just have to trust me on this one.
If you keep an eye out, you’ll find lots of churches have these bench marks. They are quite often found on pubs, too.
I’ll go back on a nicer day. Actually, I have a plan. When the weather gets warmer and the days a bit longer, I will go out on the motorcycle to look for benchmarks.
I will be on a bike quite like this one, a 500cc BSA, an M33. My one is a little later than this one, so there are a few differences. But the basic experience is the same; relaxed cruising down the back roads.
A bike is ideal. It’s easy to park, can be turned round in small places, and it’s fun. The point is, I’ve been riding since 1978, and while I used to enjoy just riding around, it’s find it’s much nicer to have a destination in mind.
Going to see if Benchmarks are still there in a certain village or area will give me that destination. I’ll check on the National Library of Scotland’s map pages, screenshot the map for the village I’m going to, and off I’ll ride (the link takes you to a map of Winslow, in the centre of North Bucks). I’ll take a modern map too.
Back home, I can put a report in to the Benchmark database whether it’s one on the list already (yes, it’s still there/no, it’s gone) or it’s a mark they didn’t know about.
I might find a few things for the blog too; motorcycles are great for exploring the countryside, and towns too. Bikes and photography go together like eggs and bacon.