Sunday, December 16, 2012

Setts and cobblestones

click photo to enlarge
Many people assume that an old road that is laid with stones is "cobbled" and that such stones are called "cobblestones". The word "setts" isn't widely known, but where it is, there is a general belief that it is synonymous with cobbles. However, the two types of stone road surface are different.

The essence of the distinction is as follows: cobblestones are found and setts are made. So, cobblestones may be - and often are - large (bigger than 2.5 inches but smaller than 10 inches), water-worn pebbles, that are laid closely together, frequently irregularly, but sometimes with patterns and borders. Setts are cut, rectangular, blocks of stone, usually granite, that are laid in stepped parallel courses, rather like a horizontal, stretcher bond, wall. An example of a road constructed of granite setts is shown in today's photograph which shows Pilot Street in King's Lynn, Norfolk. Such a road is very durable, looks great, with the slight differences in colour of the setts adding to its appeal, but is somewhat uncomfortable to walk, cycle and drive over. It is for the latter reason that many British cobbled roads and those laid with setts were taken up or covered with a smooth layer of tarmacadam. However, many survived, and quite a few of those that were buried have since been revealed and repaired.

This particular street in King's Lynn has a charming and interesting collection of houses spanning several centuries and on one side borders the churchyard of the town's second largest medieval church, St Nicholas. I plan to make the street the subject of a future blog post.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 24mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/50
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation:  -0.67 EV
Image Stabilisation: On