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The construction of a triangulation pillar is more complicated than might at first be supposed. The location of the station is actually defined by a Lower Centre Mark, fixed into the bedrock. This is isolated from the rest of the pillar by means of a sacrificial wooden cover. The surveyed mark is the Upper Centre Mark, which is set exactly above the Lower Centre Mark during construction (or during reconstruction of toppled pillars). This Centre Mark can be lit by torches inserted into the sighting tubes. The top surface of the pillar contains a brass fitting called a 'spider' incorporating three grooves 120° apart. Three brass loops, countersunk into the top of the pillar, are set between the arms of the spider. A Theodolite or Beacon is mounted on the spider and can be plumbed over the Upper Centre Mark. The instrument is held tightly in place by running a cord through the loops and around the mounting screws of the theodolite. The Centre Pipes were initially made of steel tubing, on the assumption that they would support permanent metal beacons. However such beacons were not used, so later pillars used a lighter cardboard tube, just strong enough to support the concrete while it set[1]. In most cases, a Flush Bracket was installed on one face of the pillar.

Whilst these details are not usually visible, they can sometimes be inspected when a pillar has been partly demolished. Examples include Whitwell and Rixton Moss.


  1. The History of the Retriangulation of Great Britain 1935-1962, p19, {{{2}}}