See also perch, pole.
In the English-speaking world, a unit of length used to measure land, at least as early as the 13ᵗʰ - 20ᵗʰ century, = 5.5 yards, (since 1959 in the United States and since 1963 in the UK, = 5.0292 meters exactly). With metrication, the unit now survives as a legal measure only in the United States, having been abolished in the United Kingdom by the Weights and Measures Act of 1963.
R. D. Connor (1987, page 39) makes a convincing argument, based on measurements of properties described in Saxon documents, that the rod is identical with the Saxon gyrd. Like Grierson, he speculates that the most probable origin of the gyrd's length is the length of twenty natural feet. (In 20ᵗʰ century American male median feet, that would be 208 inches, not much more than the rod's 198, and the feet of 11ᵗʰ century Englishmen were certainly smaller.)
In many contexts the rod is synonymous with the pole and the perch. In addition to the legal 5½-yard rod described above, many others have been used. They are described in the entry for perch.
In Great Britain, ? – 19ᵗʰ century, a measure of work done by bricklayers. “1 rod of brickwork = 306 cubic feet = 11¹⁄₃ cubic yards, and contains about 4,500 bricks with about 75 cubic feet of mortar.”¹
1. Frederick Danvers Power.
A Pocket-book for Miners and Metallurgists...
London: Crosby Lockwood and Son, 1892.
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Last revised: 15 September 2011.