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The rod is a unit of length equal to 5½ yards, 16½ feet or 1⁄320th of a statute mile. Since the adoption of the international yard on 1 July 1959, it has been equivalent to exactly 5.0292 meters. A rod is the same length as a perch or a pole. In old English, the term lug is also used.
In ancient cultures
The Ancient Roman units of measurement of length included a rod or pertica (also decempeda) of 10 pedes, which was equivalent to about 2.96 m; the related unit of square measure was the scrupulum or decempeda quadrata, equivalent to about 8.76 m².
In continental Europe
Units comparable to the perch, pole or rod were used in many European countries, with names that include French: perche and canne, German: Ruthe, Italian: canna and pertica, Polish: pręt and Spanish: canna. They were subdivided in many different ways, and were of many different lengths. One source from 1830 lists the following:
|Place||Local name||Local equivalent||Metric equivalent (meters)|
|Aubenas, Ardèche||canne||8 pans||1.985|
|Baden, Grand Duchy of||Ruthe||10 Fuß||3.0|
|Basel, Canton of||Ruthe||16 Fuß||4.864|
|Bern, Canton of||Ruthe||10 Fuß||2.932|
|Bremen||Ruthe||8 Ellen or 16 Fuß||4.626|
|Cagliari, Sardinia||canna||10 palmi||2.322|
|Calenberg Land||Ruthe||16 Fuß||4.677|
|Cassel, Hessen||Ruthe||14 Fuß||4.026|
|Geneva, Canton of||Ruthe||8 Fuß||2.598|
|France||Perche (for woodland)||3 2⁄3 toises||7.145|
|Jever, Oldenburg||Ruthe||20 Fuß||4.377|
|Menorca, but not Mahon||canna||1.599|
|Menorca, city of Mahon||canna||8 palmos||1.714|
|Messina, Sicily||canna||8 palmi||2.113|
|Montauban, Tarn-et-Garonne||canne||8 pans||1.783|
|Naples||canna (for cloth)||8 palmi|
|Naples, Kingdom of: Puglia, Calabria, Eboli, Foggia, Lucera||percha||7 palmi||1.838|
|Naples, Kingdom of: Capua||percha||7 1⁄5 palmi||1.892|
|Naples, Kingdom of: Fiano, Naples||percha||7 1⁄2 palmi||2.014|
|Naples, Kingdom of: Caggiano, Cava, Nocera, Rocce, Salerno||percha||7 2⁄3 palmi||1.971|
|Nürnberg, Bavaria||Ruthe||16 Fuß||4.861|
|Palermo, Sicily||canna||8 palmi||1.942|
|Poland||Pręt||7 1⁄2 łokci or 10 pręcików||4.320|
|Prussia, Rheinland||Ruthe||12 Fuß||3.766|
|Rome||canna (for cloth)||2|
|Rome||canna (for building)||2.234|
|Saxony||Ruthe||16 Leipziger Fuß||4.512|
|Tuscany, Grand-Duchy of (Florence, Pisa)||canna||5 bracci||2.918|
|Uzès, Gard||canne||8 pans||1.98|
|Waadt, Canton of||Ruthe or toise courante||10 Fuß||3|
|Würtemberg||old Ruthe||16 Fuß||4.583|
|Zürich, Canton of||Ruthe||10 Fuß||3.009|
Except where noted, this table is based on Niemann (1830). The units of subdivision may also be subject to local variation.
The length of the chain was standardized in 1620 by Edmund Gunter at exactly 4 rods. Fields were measured in acres, which were one chain (four rods) by one furlong (in the United Kingdom, ten chains).
Bars of metal one rod long were used as standards of length when surveying land. The rod was still in use as a common unit of measurement in the mid-19th century, when Henry David Thoreau used it frequently when describing distances in his work, Walden.
The rod was phased out as a legal unit of measurement in the United Kingdom as part of a ten-year metrication process that began on 24 May 1965.
In the USA, the rod, along with the chain, furlong, and statute mile (as well as the survey inch and survey foot) are based on the pre-1959 values for United States customary units of linear measurement. The Mendenhall Order of 1893 defined the yard as exactly 3600/3937 meters, with all other units of linear measurement, including the rod, based on the yard. In the post-1959 system, the fundamental unit of length is the inch, defined as exactly 2.54 centimeters. The above-noted units, used in surveying, retain their pre-1959 values.
Despite no longer being in widespread use, the rod is still employed in certain specialized fields. In recreational canoeing, maps measure portages (overland paths where canoes must be carried) in rods; typical canoes are approximately one rod long. The term is also in widespread use in the acquisition of pipeline easements, as the offers for an easement are often expressed on a "price per rod".
In Vermont, the default right-of-way width of state and town highways and trails is three rods (15.0876 m). Rods can also be found on the older legal descriptions of tracts of land in the United States, following the "metes and bounds" method of land survey; as shown in this actual legal description of rural real estate:
LEGAL DESCRIPTION: Commencing 45 rods East and 44 rods North of Southwest corner of Southwest 1/4 of Southwest 1/4; thence North 36 rods; thence East 35 rods; thence South 36 rods; thence West 35 rods to the place of beginning, Manistique Township, Schoolcraft County, Michigan.
Area and volume
- Chain (unit)
- Imperial units
- English units
- United States customary units
- anthropic units
- Bonten, JHM (2007-01-19). "Anglo-Saxon and Biblical to Metrics Conversions". Surveyor + Chain + British-Nautical. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- Rowlett, Russ (2008-12-15). "lug ". How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- Smith, Sir William; Charles Anthon (1851) A new classical dictionary of Greek and Roman biography, mythology, and geography partly based upon the Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology New York: Harper & Bros. Tables, pp. 1024–30.
- Niemann, Friedrich (1830) Vollständiges Handbuch der Münzen, Masse, und Gewichte aller Länder der Erde fur Kaufleute, Banquiers ... : in alphabetischer Ordnung. Quedlinburg und Leipzig, G. Basse. p. 33, pp.231–2, p. 286
- Thomas Ulvan Taylor (1908). "1". Surveyor's hand book. McGraw-Hill. p. 1. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
- Russell, Jeffrey S.; American Society of Civil Engineers (1 August 2003). Perspectives in civil engineering: commemorating the 150th anniversary of the American Society of Civil Engineers. ASCE Publications. p. 167. ISBN 978-0-7844-0686-1. Retrieved 28 November 2011.
- Rowlett, Russ (2008-12-03). "acre (ac or A)". How Many? A Dictionary of Units of Measurement. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- Thoreau, Henry David (1899). Walden: or, Life in the woods. H. Altemus. pp. 67, 113, 203, 204, 208, 290, 300, 309, 319, 339, 341, 356. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
- Consumer and Competition Policy Directorate (1968). Report (1968) by the Standing Joint Committee on Metrication (PDF). Department of Trade and Industry. http://www.metric.org.uk/Docs/DTI/met1968.pdf. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- Handbook 44 - 2012, Appendix C - General Tables of Units of Measurement
- "Canoe Glossary and Clickable Canoe". OutdoorPlaces.com. Michael Thiessen. Retrieved 2010-11-01.
- Attorney Discussion on Price per Rod. Retrieved 24 Oct 2012.
- "Allotments". Watford Borough Council. Retrieved 2009-10-05.
- Width of highways and trails. 19 V.S.A. § 702 (Vermont Statutes Online) (Added 1985, No. 269 [Adj. Sess.], § 1.).
- Shelton, Neil. "How to Read Land Descriptions". homestead.org. p. 5. Retrieved 2008-05-07.
- "Lake View Parcel $198 Down $198 Month Incredible 8 Acre Parcel!". EagleStar. American Eagle Star. Retrieved 2010-11-01.