Milestones are distinctively local, created in idiosyncratic styles from vernacular materials. To encourage people to take an interest in these quirky waymarkers, our members around the country have organised a variety of projects and heritage walks, securing support from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Peoples Millions, town and parish councils and other organisations.
Beyond Graffiti in West Yorkshire
A project to teach 100 young people about stone working, drystone walling, stone carving and of course about their travel history – they will be the guardians of the milestones in the future so if they recognise the significance of these rusting lumps of cast iron, they may not chuck them in a skip. You can read all about this exciting project here.
Crossing the Pennines
Even today, with the M62, there aren’t many routes across the spectacular landscapes of the South Pennines. One of the earliest was the Roman road from Chester to York and Ilkley, through the Yorkshire Colne Valley, probably following an old droveway.
In the Middle Ages, the packhorse drivers carried commercial goods and domestic products, the routes from Wakefield and Halifax towards Oldham and Manchester crossing at Marsden.
Then came the Turnpike roads of the 1700s and early 1800s, improving the surfaces and gradients for wheeled vehicles, followed by the canal and then the railway.
Working with other community groups, Milestone Society members have set up a travel heritage trail, “Crossing the Pennines”, showcasing fascinating aspects of this route and the people who used them.
Find out more about the project on the website: watch our films on YouTube about what happened, about the Grand Opening, and about the sculptures we commissioned.
Finding the Way in Warwickshire
During 2015-6, half a dozen badly neglected but unique mileposts along the road from Stratford on Avon through Long Compton were restored, thanks to funding from Heritage Lottery West Midlands. The project was accompanied by a national poetry competition run by WriteOutLoud, to spread the word. You can find out more about the restoration work and the poems on our website as well as a self-guided walk to explore the locality.
Teach the Highwayman – an Educational Resource
Young people have no idea about how many yards make a mile, which is worrying considering that the older ones are learning to drive and our road system is still calibrated in yards and miles. How to remedy this shortfall?
“Wouldn’t it be great if every child in England had the opportunity of learning about imperial distances and milestones?!”
Well, why not link it to the gory “Highwayman” poem, by Alfred Noyes, taught in Key Stage 2 to years 5 or 6, by creating an educational resource for teachers who are charged with delivering it? You can find the resources on our website including a lively video about the life of a highwayman!
The Judges’ Road in Cornwall
The Milestone Society has worked with local people and charities to restore and celebrate a lost road between Bodmin and Camelford on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. This was the route taken by the Assize Court Judges when the Summer Assize was moved from Launceston to Bodmin in 1716. You can find out about it and download the route to follow here.
Bromyard Town Heritage Trail
The unspoilt Herefordshire market town of Bromyard lies on John Ogilby’s 1670s road from ‘Oxford to Aberistwith’ and was later the focus of one of the county’s prolific turnpike trusts. Working with local organisations and supported by Heritage Lottery Fund, the Milestone Society set up a Town Heritage Trail to showcase that travel history. You can download the walk details here.
The A34 Blog
The A34 Historic Research project explores the old road between Salford and Southampton via Oxford – the modern day A34 with lots of deviations. This 225 mile route has been chosen for its variety, of interest to the general public as well as to Society members.
Visit the project’s web site The A34 Project to read contributions and make your own comments.
Look in the newspaper archives and on the web – find stories of prehistoric trackways, Roman roads, medieval packhorse or monastic ways, the travellers, highwaymen, murderers, the wagons and coaches, the tragic or amusing accidents, the road-makers, toll-keepers, the historic properties and towns along the way… as well as the milestones ~