It is often said that we go around with our eyes closed, and it seems that I am no exception. It is also certainly true that it sometimes takes showing visitors around the area where we live before we truly appreciate and understand what we have close by.
Walking our dog, Bella, recently with a good friend who was visiting the island led us to an area where we have walked many times by the sea before. In the distance was what I always thought to be a barbecue area, mainly because of the barbecue shaped concrete object in the distance, complete with chimney, that I have seen so many times before in official picnic and barbecue areas in Spain. Sadly, I had never bothered to investigate further.
It was only when our friend commented that what I had previously thought was a barbecue is, in fact, a ‘Trig Point’. I was vaguely aware of these objects, correctly named as triangulation points in the UK, but was not aware of seeing one in the Canary Islands, and I certainly did not expect to find one so close to home. In the UK, these trig points are concrete pillars used by the Ordnance Survey to discover the exact shape of the country. They are usually to be found at high levels of ground to allow for a direct line of sight from one trig point to the next. The top of the pillar is designed to allow for a theodolite (a kind of protractor built into a telescope) to be sited so that an accurate angle may be measured – a process called ‘triangulation’.
The Ordnance Survey maps that are still lovingly used in the UK today were the result of a project that began in 1935, to accurately map out the shape of the country. The series of coordinates displayed is known as the ‘National Grid’.
The process appears to have been one of dedication and immense skill, since they claim an accuracy of just 3mm across the entire length of the country. Aerial photography, digital mapping and GPS measurements have largely superseded this process and, sadly, some of these trig points are disappearing or have fallen into disrepair.
The UK was not the only country to use this system of mapping, and many examples can be found in countries across the world. In Spain, there are over 11,000 triangulation stations erected by the Instituto Geographico Nacional (http://www.ign.es).
These are usually made up of a cylinder, some 120 cm high and 30 cm diameter on a concrete base. The trig point close to our home in Gran Canaria is of similar design, and was erected in July 1991. Whilst it could do with a bit of a makeover, it is reassuring to know that it is part of a nationwide network and that our islands were not forgotten.
I will now be much more alert to find other trig points on Gran Canaria, as well as the other islands that we visit. The history and use of triangulation points is an interesting subject and I was delighted to discover that it was not just another barbecue.
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Barrie’s websites: www.barriemahoney.com and www.thecanaryislander.com or read his book, ‘Expat Voice’ (ISBN: 9780992767174). Available in paperback, as well as Kindle, iBooks and Google Play editions.
iPhone/iPad and Android Apps: ExpatInfo, CanaryIsle and CanaryGay now available.
© Barrie Mahoney
Filed under: http://www.theleader.info/article/46286/
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