About The Berkshire Milestone Map


The Base Map

One source reliable enough to be used as the basis of the new map was the 1st edition 1" OS map dating from 1830-1840, when the turnpike system had reached its fullest extent, and consequently the new map covers the area of the county at that time. I chose to work from the David and Charles reprints for the convenience of scanning folded sheets, rather than copying larger sheets photographically which would have lost the accuracy inherent in the scanning process.

How It Was Done

I started with a grid corresponding to the 10-km OS national grid squares for Berkshire, marked by the blue cross-hairs. This was the space in which to fit 17 map segments, each derived from an A4 scan of a part of the base map. The difficulty was to place these segments accurately on the grid, especially since the exact orientation of the scans couldn't be relied on. The solution was to fix the position of a few key features (such as road intersections) by means of crosses on the grid, from their modern map references. Then it was only necessary to position each segment so that the features overlaid their corresponding crosses, hopefully linking up roads from neighbouring segments at the same time. The crosses, intended only as draughting aids, were removed afterwards so that they don't appear on the final map. I've aimed to get all features on the finished map to within 0.1 mile of their true positions.

Symbols For The Mile Markers

Colour is used to differentiate between surviving and lost markers; survivors have a red body colour and lost ones are in black and white only. Surviving milestones are shown as red-filled circles, and posts, that is ones made of metal or having metal plates, as red-filled squares. The few survivors which have been moved (eg to a museum) are shown in their original positions as red-filled triangles. Where markers have not survived, we often don't know whether they were milestones or posts, so symbols are used differently. Lost markers of either sort from maps later than the base 1" map (eg from the 1st edition 6" map) appear as black circles filled with white, lost markers which are present on the base 1" map appear as black squares filled with white, and those from earlier maps as black crosses. A small dot, without any mile number, merely indicates mileages shown on old maps along roads, where nothing is known of actual milestones or mileposts.

Priorities

As you might hope, a mile marker often appears in the same position on more than one map, so a choice may need to be made as to which symbol to use. Obviously, a survivor will always be shown as such, and for lost markers, the most recent symbol is used (so, for example, a cross indicating a marker from an early map will appear only if there is no evidence on the base map or later maps).

One Milestone Or Two?

Confusion can arise when the positions of mile markers differ from one map to another. In some cases this may arise from inaccuracies in the map-making process, in others because of actual resiting of the stones due to road changes. I have chosen to show only a single mile marker if it can be placed within about 0.1 mile of all available source positions. Any which are further apart than this I show separately, though it should be realised that this commonly represents a single stone which was moved rather than two co-existing ones.

Destinations

Another difference between source maps is sometimes the mile number associated with a given mile marker: one map may present miles to one destination and another to another. As I chose the 1st edition 1" as my base map, I have also stayed with its choices here where possible. Any place names which are referenced by the mileages, or are at the end of a route, are considered destinations and are given the accolade of upper-case lettering and a ring round the town.

Isolated Mile Markers

Sometimes a mile marker exists in splendid isolation and can't be clearly ascribed to a known turnpike or other route. Only as much of the road as is certain is then shown, usually up to the first main junction in each direction. One unique stone in Upper Bucklebury commemorates the birth of Prince George in 2012, while at the same time marking the distance to London as 52 miles.

Toll Gates

A toll gate is shown on the 1st edition 1" map as an almost indistinguishable line across the road, which by itself indicates any gate, but with the clearer label 'T.G.' adjacent to it. Other maps may show it as 'Turnpike' or 'TB', for toll bar. I have marked toll gates on the new map by green bars across the road, each with a short identifier. Where they are not given names on the source maps, I have identified each for reference purposes from a nearby place name. If documents surface in the future which give an authentic contemporary name, the intention would be to use that instead. Similar names with a number '1' or '2' attached suggest a single toll gate which has moved, '1' indicating the earlier position. To avoid too much clutter, I haven't shown side gates which were sometimes used to bar roads that could bypass the main gate.

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