Pavement Archaeology

mystery symbols

mystery symbols

I’ve been working in Soho for many years, and have always wondered about the weird little symbols that one sees carved into kerbstones.

What are they for? How old are they? Are they cut into the stones before or after the kerb is laid? Maybe some of London’s kerbs are cut from ancient Celtic megaliths?

What does a triangle mean? A cross? An X with dots? A little arrow?

I always thought they were only to be found in central London – but I saw some in Twickenham (well St Margarets) the other day.

The thing is – I’m not sure if I want anyone to tell me what they are for. It’s bound to be something really boring. For surveyors? Something to do with quarrying? Highway maintenance schedules? I prefer to think that they are some kind of masonic language. Maybe something to do with ley lines. I’ll ask Julian Cope.

2 Comments so far

  1. Julia Frey (lajulia) on September 29th, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

    Spoiler Alert:
    Having been a tourist in your country (and going on many guided tours) I believe they are the stonecutter’s marks. A way to identify one’s "company" way back when. The marks used to be laid so no one could see them, but probably when they repaved the road over the years, and reused the stones, they put the marks up either on purpose (cuz they look cool) or by accident.

    That’s my 2 pence.

  2. padster on September 29th, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

    Hmmm, so YOU say… ;)

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