History of Surveying and Measurement

Standards and Units of Measure

No surveying is possible without a measurement tool whether it be for angles or distances and any such tool must be properly standardised and calibrated if the results are to be the best achievable. In addition when delving into the history of surveying there is a multiplicity of units and conversions from one to another. This is a large subject in its own right into which many researchers into contact. Various reference works list and briefly discuss many different units but are in general not appropriate for the specifics of standardisation of measures used in surveying. For this resort has usually to be made to individual scattered technical papers although even these are few and far between.

For the major survey schemes of the past there is often a section in the official report devoted to standards and units

Among useful reports are:

Comparison of standards of length of England, France, Belgium, Prussia, Russia, India and Australia. A R Clarke. 1866. HMSO London

Results of the comparisons of the standards of length of England, Austria, Spain, US, Cape of Good Hope and of a second Russian standard scale. A R Clarke. 1873. Phil. Trans. Roy.Soc.

A series of papers by L Pfeifer in the Survey Review Nos. 277-281 (July 2000 - July 2001). These cover details of numerous old standards and scales.

Cadastral Map from Denmark. Courtesy Kort & Matrikelstyrelsen, Denmark, KMS and Den danske Landinspektørforening DdL.