About The Essex Milestone Map

The Base Map

Two maps stood out as having sufficient accuracy and sufficient coverage of milestone locations to be used as the basis of the new map: Chapman and Andre's 1777 Essex map, and the 19th century 1st edition 1" OS maps. Either would have done well. I chose to work from the David and Charles reprint of the 1st edition 1" (1838-1844), mainly because it represents the turnpike system at its fullest extent, but also for the greater convenience of scanning folded sheets rather than the heavier flat sheets of Chapman and Andre. The alternative of copying photographically 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 Essex, marked by the blue cross-hairs. This was the space in which to fit 25 or so 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 Surviving 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 markers which are 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 known survivors which have been taken away from the road they were on to an out-of-context location are marked by red-filled triangles at their original positions. Examples are the Colchester obilisk (London 51) now to be found in a local cemetery, and the more conventional Mistley (London 61) marker moved a short distance to Mistley Quay.

Symbols For Lost Mile Markers

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 sources later than the base 1" map (eg. from larger scale OS maps) 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 (eg. Chapman and Andre) as black crosses.


As you might hope, a mile marker often appears in the same position on maps of different age, 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 symbol appropriate to the most recent appearence 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 away 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 (see for instance on the route to Harwich). An unusual situation can be seen on the road through Roxwell where two sets of stones interleave, presenting mileages from opposite directions.


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.

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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