Rural boundaries

In rural areas the present day surveyor is often faced with the problem of re-determining the boundaries of very early surveys, which before 1870 were measured only by circumferenter and Gunters chain. Allowance for factors like sag, slope and temperature was made by overstating the measured distance. In this way the owners entitlement was assured. Accordingly, re-surveyed distances using modern equipment will, in general, be greater than the deed distances.

By todays standards the measurement of both azimuth and distance was poor, however, some rural surveys (especially those relating to public roads) were of high standard.

Old survey marks

In rural areas surveyors have to search for marks which may have been placed up to 120 years ago. However it is not uncommon to still locate either the original marks or evidence of their existence. Varying types of marks were used, including:


Lockspits consist of either trenches or lines of stone in the direction of the boundaries - usually 10 links (2.01 metres) long and one link (0.2 metres) from the corner peg. The remains of dug lockspits can be seen either as a depression in the ground or by improved grass growth in the old trench.

Blazed trees

Trees located on parcel corners were blazed on all four sides, while trees located within one metre of the boundary line were blazed on both sides at right angles to the boundary. Reference trees were usually marked within 30 m of each corner with a large blaze inscribed with a broad arrow and the portion number. Overgrown blazed trees are generally evident by a 'bump' in the external bark, and a quick cut will reveal both the old blaze and a 'mirror-reverse' shield. Stumps of trees will also often show evidence of a blaze.

Reference marks

These were sometimes shown on old plans as bottles, cement filled bottles, or iron pipes or rods. Some plans merely state 'reference marks' on boundaries five links from the corners shown. They were usually placed at the main corners of a survey.

Rock marks

If surface rock exists two methods were used to mark the corner:

  • A peg was placed and held in place by a cairn of rocks, or
  • A drill hole was placed with wings in the direction of the boundaries.