Benchmark Bagging

Mr and Mrs Physics have a new hobby in lockdown, and a way to make those daily walks a little more interesting. It was Mr Physics who started this obsession but he can’t remember why he clicked on the OS Benchmark Website, I suspect it was because the alternative was talking to Mrs Physics!

Anyone on one of our walks he produced a piece of scrap paper with a few grid references marked on it and we were off!.

Benchmark locator

Ordnance Survey Bench marks (BMs) are survey marks made by Ordnance Survey to record height above Ordnance Datum. If the exact height of one BM is known, the exact height of the next can be found by measuring the difference in heights, through a process of spirit levelling.

Most commonly, the BMs are found on buildings or other semi-permanent features. Although the main network is no longer being updated, the record is still in existence and the markers will remain until they are eventually destroyed by redevelopment or erosion.

So instead of just going for a walk you arm yourself with a map, put a grid reference on your smartphone and off you set with a description of the position of the benchmark.

The first one we found was at the old local post office building, now a smart opticians. We’ve lived in this town for 25 years and walked past this particular spot at least two times in a week and often more than that in one day, but I can honestly say I’d never seen the small plaque in the bottom of the right hand sandstone wall. So that was us hooked.

OS BM Moffat PO
OS BM Moffat PO

The first day we collected the post office, church two at Holm Street, although we didn’t initially take photos of those and one at the old school and the parapet of Burnside bridge.

OS BM Moffat St Andrews Church
OS BM Moffat St Andrews Church
OS BM Flush Brackets Moffat Holm End
OS BM Flush Brackets Moffat Holm End
OS BM Cutmark Moffat Holm End
OS BM Cut Marks Holm End
OS BM Cut Marks Holm End
OS BM Cut Marks Holm End
OS BM Moffat Millburn Bridge
OS BM Moffat Millburn Bridge also called Birnock Bridge
OS BM Moffat Bridge over Burnock Water
OS BM Moffat Bridge over Burnock Water

We managed to drag Piglet across the park to find the two on the old bridge across the old A701. (This old bridge pre 1857 is actually named the new bridge, so I don’t know what the current bridge is called) Piglet got as far as walking up and down the old road before he thought that his parents had gone completely cuckoo and made his way back home. It was worth the wait, although we only found one mark and not the second. We think the second plate was placed over the first cut mark. Now in the time we’ve been here we’ve walked this route countless times but I don’t think it had ever registered. We’re on the look out now.

OS BM Moffat Bridge over Annan
OS BM Moffat Bridge over Annan

So at the end of hunt 2 we’d picked up 7 OS Benchmarks and had a couple of false starts. One at the Hope and one at the post office. We can’t find the one at Piglet’s friends house, but didn’t feel it was quite right to wander around their house to look.

Not one at the Hope Moffat
Not one at the Hope Moffat
One from the Armit collection
Discounted as not a benchmark!

By the end of the first trip we’d found some kindred spirits in the Armit’s and got into competition. They bagged 6 in their first outing, although added a GPO benchmark. This was too much for Mr Physics who thought we’d end up logging every water hydrant and stop tap covers.

The GPO Benchmark was quite cute though, it has a look of a shocked old man

Within what seemed about 20 mins of telling my best pal Wol about them she’d bagged several. Most of hers where in brick and much harder to identify.

Cutmark Wall in Aylesbury
See how they have to dig so deeply into the brick in Aylesbury. One of Wols first bagged benchmarks
Aylesbury cutmark
Look how hard they are to find in the brickwork of Aylesbury.
This one is much clearer to see.
Another of Wols and much easier to spot.


Today Mr Physics started a coup he’s found a list of fundamental benchmarks. These are still in operation today so weren’t publicised on the OS Benchmarks, but someone wasn’t as private and had listed them……..

So we’re off to find one that is just a few miles away. The Armits have agreed to a 100 point bonus for a fundamental one, let’s hope we can bag it first.

We’d got a grid reference but that doesn’t indicate the vegetation that you’ll be wading through. That willowherb was higher than chest height and it wasn’t even where I’d been looking. Is this getting a bit stupid?
OSBM Fundamental Benchmark on the A701
OSBM Fundamental Benchmark on the A701
OSBM Fundamental Benchmark plaque
Not sure it is a usual monument, but in this climate I can’t see anyone complaining and wanting it removed.
OSBM Fundamental Benchmark OS plate
OSBM Fundamental Benchmark OS plate on the A701
Well worth a dig through wet willowherb chest high
Well worth a dig through wet willowherb chest high
OSBM top of a fundamental
It wasnt as tall as I thought it would be from the photo on the internet. But it is worth 100 points!

Are you hooked yet? Check your area and get looking.
Benchmark Bagger 2020

Five in 2 days and a flush plate!

Well it’s the holidays, the pressure is off, so let’s go and bag some benchmarks. Not bad we bagged 5 in two days, although I’ve not got photos of them all.

I’m not sure how we missed this one. It was obvious from many metres away, although I think the light shining on it helped. This hasn’t appeared on any OS Benchmark list, so I think the windowsill might have been pilfered from another building in one of its many updates.
It certainly stands out!
A very nice man allowed me into his garden to take this one. It was visible from the road, but the light wasn’t on it. Part of the many along Old Edinburgh Road. I wonder if he’ll be bagging them on his post round.
We spent ages looking for this at Well Road the first time but gave up after 5-10 mins. This time Mr Physics found it in under a minuts. You can see how it is so much easier to see when the light it on it.
Spot this one at the junction between Haywood Road and Well Road, but look when it is light.
This one is in someone’s garden, so again not easy to see. Why would you put your plants up against it so it isn’t visible? Another one for a winter visit.

This one was clearly described close to Archbank on the bridge over Hind Gill and according to the description it should be located where that piece of concrete is set. I wonder if it had been removed and replaced!

Was this once a cut mark?
In Archbanks Garden Wall, on the road side so no need to go rummaging!
And here is a flush plate at Hidden Corner.

Soon we hope to be delivering AH Project Equipment to the Advanced Higher students so that they’ve something to do during lockdown holidays so we’re checking the maps. Gretna, Annan, Lockerbie and Eaglesfield here we come!


Just doing a dry run of the Moffat Flush Bracket Quiz with Miss Physics, who worked out all the clues before setting off to find the benchmarks. Mr Physics was armed with the 1858 Map, so we took a detour to the Old Moffat Can building. How did we miss this big beauty, newly painted and standing out from the street?

28th July 2020

I’ve just finished typing up the answers for the Moffat Museum Quiz on flush plates and cut marks and I’ve realised I am well behind in filling you in on the bagging of the benchmarks.

It appears that some serious competition has moved into the area and is a fanatic bagger of benchmarks. He completed a route just south of here and bagged 30 in one journey. This is upping the ante, but I think we should just quit! I hope he gives us a little more time to collect the ones in Moffat before he finds all the ones that we haven’t yet unearthed.

So what have we been up to? Well not in any particular order but last night I finally bagged our nearest benchmark, not 100 m away. We’ve been looking on the wrong wall. Thinking back I thought I might have seen it a month back but it was described as being on a corner wall which has been plastered over, when actually it was on the window frame. Talking to Piglet’s friend;s dad, and owner of the house, he knew exactly where it was and what it was. It has been painted black but it was quite easy to see. Sometimes you miss what is right before your eyes!

Mr Physics and I combined a bit of school work and benchamark bagging. Due to lockdown some of the new AH, some of whom I’ve yet to meet, decided they’d like to try some of their AH Physics project over the summer. I have great expectations of this group- I’ve named them the great eight. So Mr Physics and I did the full risk assessments, collected the resources at the end of term and provided some starters for 10 on possible practicals. We had to deliver as far south as Gretna, Annan, Hoddom and Lockerbie. So Mr Physics armed himself with a few to look for as close to the “way points” as possible.

If you live in Lockerbie a quick walk from Townhead along to Tescos with a brief detour up Bridge Street will bag you 6 benchmarks, including the top of a flush bracket, now mostly buried under the pavement.

We actually Bagged this on our second Lockerbie visit
How many times have I walked past this one on the way to Dryfesdale Church with a register class at the end of term- too many to count.
This one has had a chunk taken out of it too. It too is just before the Dryfesdale Church.
I suppose this one is quite vulnerable.
At the old Clydesdale Bank building, before they moved to a more modern place.
This one has rather a lot of damage to it.
Right outside the opticians- it could be part of the annual eye test, did you notice the benchmark on your way in?
This poor flush bracket has been buried alive. This was done when the works were done to make it safer for pedestrians.
This one you’ll find on the parapet of the Bridge over the Railway, Bridge Street.
This one is near the dentist on the “ginnel” to Home Bargains. I hope the dentists learn to love their benchmark as much as they love their teeth. Maybe a cleaning routine for this benchmark is required, such as brushing twice a day and flossing regularly to avoid the build up of nasties!

Now on our second trip we went looking for the one on Livingston Place but we couldn’t find it, although Mr Competitor had spotted it in April. In our defence, the bush was another 5 feet taller.

This little beauty was a reward for travelling to Gretna, and much healthier than a trip to the Thornton’s shop
Although this is now someones lovely house, it still has a touch of the old station about it, especially in the name of the cottage.

Walking on the Wild Side.

As Miss Physics was home and we hadn’t seen her since New Year due to lockdown we decided to drag her around to see our new hobby. We thought she’d appreciate it as she used to be dragged around various Historic Scotland buildings, castles, museums and other places of historical and geographical importance. He friends commented that we were Nerdy! No idea where they got that idea from.

So two lovely walks around the town yielded a few we hadn’t yet encountered, although most were undetected. Status Not known is how they are logged. They might be hidden in the undergrowth or painted over on buildings. One was covered in garden plants.

The first was a walk up Chapel knowe.

Bagged this one quite quickly, although the lounge was full of people. I trust we didn’t disturb you but such a fine specimen.

Couldn’t find this one, but it is probably still there, waiting to be exposed under the render.

So many no finds but the views were worth it

July 2020