Sunday, 11 April 2010

Milestone on the Bath Road

The various databases provided by English Heritage contain a wealth of material on vast numbers of historial sites. I have known about Pastscape and Images of England for a while. For anyone interested in this kind of thing they are well worth a look.

Today, for the first time, I discovered Listed Buildings Online. Again, it provides access to a wealth of information. I don't know how long this one has been around, but as far as I am aware, this kind of information was previously only available for England on individual local authority web sites, in a variety of different formats.

I suspect they rarely visit TLATET, but neverthless, I will begin by congratulating and thanking everyone involved in making this information available. Each of these sites provides a valuable resource. Unfortunately, I have to admit that each of them also demands a fair amount of determination to extract anything of interest. They duplicate each other to some extent, they are not well integrated with related information (or even with each other) and all suffer from rather clunky interfaces.

If anyone reading this is aware of alternative ways of accessing this information then I would be interested to hear about it. Meanwhile, having discovered the database of listed buildings I decided to try it out by searching for information on local milestones along the A4 (Bath Road) between Maidenhead and Twyford.

The Listed Buildings Database holds the locations of almost 3,000 milestones across England, of which 83 are in Berkshire. You don't normally see milestones from a car, and although I've spotted the odd one in passing, I never twigged that there were so many of them. I've used the grid references provided by English Heritage to plot the ones in Berkshire, here.

Once I'd extracted the data I set off on the bike to see if I could find the nearest milestones on the ground. It turns out that the grid references on the listed buildings register are remarkably precise, and I only failed to find one. Missing it is almost certainly down to me, since the others seem to be exactly where they are supposed to be.

Having returned home I discover that more sensible members of my family think that cycling fifteen miles or so to check up on a bunch of milestones is an odd thing to do. Perhaps they are right, but I reckon there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours on a Sunday afternoon. Washing the car, and sorting out the garden shed will wait another week (or two).

I discover that the above is a bit unfair on English Heritage. They also provide a gateway that aggregates the results from a variety of different databases - here .

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