Gunter Survey Chain circa 1860
Gift of the Parks & Wildlife Commission of the Northern Territory - 2010
The measurement of land has had an interesting history over time. Innumerable techniques, instruments, and measurement standards have been developed through the ages to survey land for commercial and legal purposes, most of which were confusing or relatively inaccurate. However, in 1620 the English clergyman Edmund Gunter developed a system that would simplify and standardise land measurement. He divided a furlong (660 feet or 201.168 metres) into 10 equal parts which he called chains (66 feet or 20.1168 metres), and divided each chain into 100 links (7.92 inches or 201.168 mm). He then constructed an actual chain made of iron that could be physically used to measure land using these units.
This became known as the Gunter chain and it revolutionised surveying. Each chain was made up of 100 iron links connected by three oval rings. Each end was furnished with a...