Today’s links with Edmund’s invention

This surveyor’s chain is on display at the Te Aroha Museum.

Edmund Gunter may have been born 436 years ago, but the measuring device he invented still impacts modern life.

In the Te Aroha & District Museum is an example of Edmund’s surveyor’s chain – a distance-measuring device used for land survey.

It was designed and introduced in 1620 by the English clergyman and mathematician Edmund Gunter (1581–1626) long before the development of the theodolite and other more sophisticated equipment, enabling plots of land to be accurately surveyed and plotted for legal and commercial purposes.

Edmund developed the measuring chain of 100 links. The chain measures 66 feet, or 22 yards. The links are connected by two rings, and furnished with a tally mark at the end of every 10 links.

There are 10 chains in a furlong, and 80 chains in one statute mile. An acre is the area of 10 square chains.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries minor roads surveyed in Australia and New Zealand were customarily one chain wide.

Traditionally the Queen’s Chain is a strip of public-access land along coasts and waterways of up to 20 metres wide. The strip of land was originally one chain (66 feet) wide.

The chain measurement also survives as the length of a cricket pitch, being the distance between the stumps.

A job as a ‘chainman’ nowadays falls under the broader career category of surveying technician. (Source Te Aroha & District Museum)

The Te Aroha & District Museum, located in the Cadman Bathhouse, The Domain, Te Aroha, is open seven days a week. Current opening hours are 12 noon to 3pm. From Labour weekend (October 21) to Easter weekend (March 30, 2018) opening hours are 11am to 4pm.


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