Did You Know?

A Little Note About... Old UK Area Measures
(and modern approximations)

For 2000 years up to the latter part of the 20th Century, rural England has had a number of ways of measuring area.

The earliest measures related to the ability of the land to support a family (one Hide being the measure of land required to support a family for a year, which could vary between 60 and 180 acres) or how the land could be worked (an acre was the amount of land which could be ploughed by a yoke of oxen in a day). But those measures were not standardised, because on good land, for example in the Vale of Pewsey, a yoke of oxen could plough far more in a day than they could in the heavy clay of Bedfordshire.

There is also a link between linear measure (for example a yard) and its equivalent area measure (a square yard). What is somewhat less well known is the strong link between land and maritime linear measures - a chain in maritime measure equals 100 links, or 22 yards, and on land a chain is also 22 yards.


Area Measures
1 square inch =   Approximately equal to 6.5 cm2
1 square foot = 144 sq. inches Approximately equal to 0.09m2
1 square yard = 9 sq. feet Approximately equal to 0.83m2
30.25 sq. yards = 1 sq pole*   
40 sq. poles = 1 sq. rood  
1 acre = 4840 sq. yards Approximately equal to 0.4 hectares
1 square mile = 640 acres Approximately equal to 259.0 hectares
* Also known as sq. rod (not to be confused with 'rood'), or sq. perch. In Pewsey, allottments are still measured using an even older measure - the 'lug' - equivalent to about 40 sq. metres. A standard Pewsey allotment is 5 lugs.